IMAGES of dramatic moorland, romantic views and sometimes shocking modernity, all focussing on the vital role women play in farming life, feature in the autumn exhibition at the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock.

Drawn to the Land is an ongoing and exploratory project which takes an intimate look at the contemporary Scottish landscape through the eyes of the women who are working, forming and shaping it. Sophie Gerrard’s extraordinary photographs explore the lives of six of these remarkable women who are ‘drawn to the land’; women who shape, and are shaped by, some of the most remote and diverse parts of the Scottish landscape.

As female farmers, working and living in a male dominated world, they are underrepresented in the UK, and yet, according to the Office of National Statistics, the number of women in farming has increased by almost 25% in the last ten years alone.

When Sophie began the project in 2012, it was as a way of exploring her own relationship with the Scottish landscape. She talks about it often becoming romanticised as a symbol of national identity and ‘rural fantasy’, and says, "My aim was to uncover something more authentic … I wanted to scratch the surface, to go beyond the picturesque postcard view and learn about the land through the eyes of those who are responsible for it."

Sybil, Mary, Sarah, Minty, Patricia and Lorraine are six of the hill farmers who take on this responsibility. They each have their own stories, but all talk of being custodians rather than landowners. They demonstrate a great empathy with the land and livestock that they look after and talk of being unable to imagine themselves doing anything else.

For Sophie, it was important to represent this in Drawn to the Land. In understanding the relationship between farmer and landscape, she found that: "More often than not, that perspective is a male one, I was curious to understand it from a female viewpoint."

Roger Watson, curator for the National Trust at the Fox Talbot Museum says: "They are more than just photographs, they are a true exploration of humanity and its relationship with the landscape in which it exists."

Drawn to the Land runs until March 2017, and is free with normal admission.

Patricia’s blackfaced ewes with windfarm turbines, the Scottish Borders, January 2013 ©Sophie Gerrard from the series, ‘Drawn to the Land’

Sarah, Sandamhor Farm, Isle of Eigg, May 2015 ©Sophie Gerrard from the series, ‘Drawn to the Land’