Somerset Stories, Fivepenny Dreams reflects on the sense of belonging and identity connected to Venetia Dearden’s childhood home. Exploring the haunts of her youth and the lives of the current inhabitants, the series intimately documents her surroundings and families who live there. This five year project was published in 2008 and has since been exhibited at the Phototaumnales Festival in France, The Focale Gallery in Switzerland, The Espace Jorg Brockmann in Geneva.
My passion and curiosity for Somerset has been fuelled by my long-term connection with this area where I spent my childhood. I am compelled to return again and again to explore my relationship with the landscape and the people living here. I wanted simply to capture intimate moments in families striving to create a way of life they believe in. My journey takes me through seasons, rituals, gatherings and day-to-day life. I witness a sense of belonging and identity within these rich bonds of family and community.
About the Artist
Venetia Dearden [Wales, b.1975] grew up in Somerset and retains a strong affinity with its landscape and people. Her photographs of local families living close to the land first brought her work to international attention in 2008, on the publication of her book Somerset Stories, Fivepenny Dreams.
She has an MA in Anthropology, Comparative Religion and History of Art from Edinburgh University (1998) and undertook postgraduate studies in Photojournalism at the London College of Printing (1999–2000). In 2011, she received the Vic Odden Award from the Royal Photographic Society.
Dearden’s images are carefully aimed to provoke a feeling, or an experience. She looks at her subjects in their contexts, asking us what it is to be human within our chosen environments. Her belief in the pivotal moment, in cherishing people, and in following her gut feel has taken her on a photographic journey around the world for 15 years as well as back to the countryside of her childhood in the UK.