The signpost is such an iconic rural image, they are so familiar in our lanes and villages that we take them completely for granted; but when they get taken down, then it’s a real miss.
This signpost in Exbourne is no longer there, although the power cable post alongside it still stands.
Village resident Clare Kelly lives not too far from the place where Ravilious stood to take this image in 1978. She doesn’t know who the children are, but she does know the name of the dog.
“I think he was called Bruce,” she says, describing how a previous exhibition of old village photos included one taken around the same location and featured the same sheepdog. “Someone came up to us and said, ‘that’s Bruce, that is!’ I think he may have belonged to the Hayes family who ran the local abbatoir.”
The abbatoir used to be housed in the buildings to the right of the picture, along the lane. The building behind the wall where the children are playing was Town Living Farm. It’s no longer a farm, and has been divided into two cottages. The abbatoir buildings have also gone, the lane now leading to a group of four new houses.
For Clare, this photograph is about change; not just what has changed, but how so many things are still the same.
Some buildings, and the post of course, have gone, but others remain; farm buildings that have housed many families and probably will do for generations to come.
There’s a solidity to it, remarks Clare. “Even the kids playing outside, it reminded me of when I was a kid doing the same things – and it looks like they’ve been caught doing something they shouldn’thave done!
But do we see as many children playing outside these days?
Perhaps not, says Clare, “But we still have a village school and you can still hear the kids in the playground, the sound of them playing.”
“It’s how we lived then and how we live now and the continuity of life cycles,” she adds.