Common Land explores the legacy of the Oxfordshire Rising of 1596, a rural protest in the countryside to the north of Oxford city against hardship and land enclosure after failed harvests had led to near-famine. The wounded landscapes of enclosure persist to this day, expressing violence, inequality and dispossession as power and money have driven successive generations from the land – their land, our common land.
These legacies are still with us. The Tudor era was the dawn of centuries of oppressive land enclosure that have given us both the English landscape and the system of property ownership we have today. Even now, more than 90 per cent of the land in England is off-limits to the public and more than half of all our rural land is owned by just 36,000 people. The Oxfordshire Rising of 1596 was a protest by the common man. It was born of desperation and ended, tragically, at the gallows. The issues it brought to light, however, remain unresolved to this day.
My name is Mark Crean and I am a photographer based in Oxfordshire.
After some years in book publishing I realised that photography was for me and I have turned my hand to many genres over the years. The main concerns of my practice now are rural life and farming, the environment and landscape, with a bit of urbex and events photography added to the mix and supplemented with plenty of cake.