Book of the week: Farm Follows Function by Jethro Marshall
Words Mark Hooper
The first release from West Country Modern takes the apparently banal subject of agricultural buildings and invites us to reconsider them as architectural landmarks…
Sometimes it takes someone with fresh eyes to point out what’s right in front of you. Which is exactly what Jethro Marshall does in Farm Follows Function, showing, with tongue ever so gently in cheek, that the out-houses, lean-tos and hastily-built barns of West Country farm buildings are every bit as worthy of our praise as any modernist architecture.
Using readily available, affordable material – corrugated iron, breeze blocks and concrete, steel frames and bracing – this is where practicality and efficacy take the place of aesthetics. A place where simple solutions and a flexible interpretation of planning permission results in a style that is largely ignored.
Marshall has photographed these buildings in stark black-and-white, elevating them from the mundane to something more heroic, avoiding the usual clichés of countryside photography to celebrate the everyday. This willingness to find secret places of beauty, hiding in plain sight, is almost the definition of a ‘hole-and-corner’ lifestyle (full disclosure, the introduction is by Hole & Corner editor Mark Hooper).
This is the first in a series looking at rural landscapes afresh – next on the list is a similar visual essay titled Coastal Brutalism, with two more promised ‘in a strictly irregular publishing pattern’. Farm Follows Function is stocked at Margaret Howell stores, galleries including Hauser & Wirth, the Arnolfini and the Photographers’ Gallery as well as being available online. Get it while (farm) stocks last…