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a monthly reading group for bored cows


Hopes Ash Farm, Ross-On-Wye

by Hattie Godfrey

In 2017, as a part of her research into institutional landscapes and narratives of diagnoses and recovery, Hattie drew parallels with agricultural spaces and systems. In particular, she became interested in a group of cows that were kept aside from the rest due to their inability to produce milk. This inability was either because they were young heifers or in the latter stages of pregnancy. They are primarily kept in/near the cattle yard during this period.

At the time, Hattie was suffering with recurring kidney infections and severe depression, and as such was spending a lot of time in waiting rooms. She saw that these cows were living in a similar kind of limbo, leaking, waiting and unable to see beyond the barn walls. On the basis of these parallel experiences, The Reading Group for Bored Cows was established and met on a monthly basis for six months. Each month, Hattie chose a text to read and unpack to the small group of cows. The video, photographic and written documentation chronicles the artist's growing relationship with the cows. We see as they become more comfortable, playful and mischievous. At the third meeting, they run to the gate to greet her.

Alongside being crucial in the development of her performative installation A While Back, Rub My Back, this project brought Hattie an enormous amount of comfort during a very difficult period of time, and her hope is that she was able to bring some comfort to the wonderful cows who attended the reading group.

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