Focusing on The New Forest in Hampshire and its surrounding areas, The Appleslade Archive is an on going project with the main purpose of documenting the rural practices, both modern and traditional, that are in use in the area by farmers and Commoners (Someone who owns and turns out Ponies, Cattle, Pigs or Sheep onto the New Forest). Looking into the working life of New Forest Commoners and Farmers, the Archive looks at the ever changing landscape of rural areas and gives an insight into a world that many people would otherwise never know about.
Alistair Deacon, founder of The Appleslade Archive, was first introduced to New Forest Commoners by his wife, Rebecca (A working, practicing Commoner whose family have been commoning since the 17th Century). Interested in this struggling trade, he began learning about the traditional methods of ‘Running Animals on Forest’, ‘Branding’ and ‘Drifting’ and started documenting the traditions that are under threat. The introduction of higher volumes of tourists and vehicles is affecting how the Forest Works. More efficient modern farming techniques are now being employed, therefore age old traditions are disappearing. Techniques and tricks which used to be passed down from generation to generation are dying out and the knowledge is being lost.
Alistair, having grown up on a Dairy farm, learnt the importance of farming at a young age and understands the need to document the old traditions before they die out. Feeling that it was important to have the perspective of another photographer, someone less familiar with the practices and customs integral to the rural way of life in the Forest, Dominic Evans was also invited to be a contributor to The Appleslade Archive, allowing a different point of view to cover elements that may be overlooked by someone more familiar with the area.
Working with his wife, Rebecca, and fellow photographer Dominic, Alistair hopes to expand The Appleslade Archive to enable it to reach as many people around the world as is possible. Please have a look around the website to learn more about The New Forest and the traditions and people that make it so unique.