Plenary session- Re-imaging the rural - An agricultural labourer, an artist, an agenda

Event : Plenary / semi-plenary
Room : Amphithéâtre Matagrin
Speakers : Joanne Coates

Joanne Coates

Joanne Coates is a working class visual artist working with the medium of photography. She lives and works across the North East of England.  Her work explores rurality, hidden histories, and inequalities relating to low income through photography, installations, and audio. She uses photography to question stories around power, identity, wealth, and poverty. She was first educated in working-class communities, and then at London College of Communication (BA Hons Photography). Participation and working with communities are important aspects of her work. 

In 2022 Coates was the winner of the Jerwood/Photoworks award. She is a nominee of the Pix Pictet award. Over the past five years she has achieved worldwide recognition from Magenta Flash Forward, British Journal of Photography, The British Council, Arts Council England, Women Photograph, Firecracker and more. In 2021 Joanne was a recipient of Shutterstock Females in Focus Award. 2020 saw her as artist-in-residence at The Maltings in collaboration with Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) and the Institute for Creative Arts Practice, where she developed Daughters of the Soil, exploring the role of women in agriculture in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including shows at The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Middlesbrough Museum of Modern Art, Belfast Exposed, Jerwood Arts, The Arthouse, Somerset House, The Royal Albert Hall, Format photography Festival, and Cork Photo Festival. Her work is often shown in site specific contexts in the countryside. Her work is in the permanent collections of MIMA.

Website || 
Social media ||


Much of Joanne’s work smashes the idea of the idyllic rural England. This talk will look at how an artist re-imagines the rural with a research-led approach. It will examine how both personal and political arts-led practice can bring fresh information into different fields of inquiry. This talk will showcase how arts and sociology are not too dissimilar. Joanne Coates has been compared to the English poet John Clare, a peasant maker, artist, photographer and doer bringing lived experience of agricultural labour into the arts. What can rural sociology glean from this approach?