WATER SALAD ON MONDAY  E M Campbell

Water Salad on Monday was an on-site, immersive experience of cinematic black and white photographs that tenderly picked their way through the special natures of Elm Tree Farm, a working farm staffed by adults with learning disabilities.  Esther was in situ here for a year to witness animal birth and death, mud and blood, community and care while clicking battered, analogue cameras.  The show pasted, stapled and hung vast monochrome portraits and fleeting moments onto walls, hay bales and sheds around the farm itself.  Portraying the life-affirming hotbed of care, compassion and graft of the farm, the exhibition was a treasure trail of sensory pleasure as photos sparkled everywhere - holding still life for a single moment while surrounded by their living, breathing muses in resplendent Autumn light.  The accompanying limited edition book  is now available.

Sometimes you only realise what's been lacking when it suddenly appears.  Most photographic shows display work in sterile surroundings cut off from context.  Water Salad on Monday is different.  The pictures - a poignant mix of unguarded portraits, captured moments, still lives - are chanced upon in unexpected places around the farm on which they were taken. In an orchard, a pig sty, pinned to a straw bale, hidden in a barn, peeped at through a high window. The effect is resonant, lingering, multi-layered.  Rich, nuanced, context floods in through the ears and nose as well as the eyes.  There's such a closeness to the photos. Tender and acutely observed, building to a deeply-felt love letter to the land, to community, to care in its many forms.  Mike White, Boneshaker.

I genuinely don’t know how Esther does what she does - the photos are remarkable, relevant, heart-felt and important. She tells stories with single-frame images like no one else.  Her work illustrates a deep connection between artist, camera and subject which gives images a vitality and integrity.  It is direct and accessible, deeply personal, poetic and cinematic.  Adam Laity, cinematographer 

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