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Homer Sykes’ Once a Year and Other Folkloric Photography Journeys: Revisiting 10/26


Homer Sykes’ Once a Year was published in 1977 and is a collection of photographs taken oven seven years as he travelled across Britain recording traditional customs and folk rituals.

Until I revisited the post I wrote on it during the first year of A Year In The Country I’d forgotten that the book was one of the early starting points for what eventually became A Year In The Country. It may well have been the first thing I bought when the ideas that became A Year In The Country were developing and percolating away.

When I bought it the book seemed like a rare photographic documenting of folk culture and customs but since then there have been a fair few  books published that take as their subject such traditional customs, both in the UK and abroad. A number of them I have written about before and they could be seen as being part of lineage which stretch back to Benjamin Stone’s photographing of British traditional customs in the late 19th and 20th century. Below is a list of some related books:

Homer Sykes’ Once a Year (1977, reissued in 2016 by Dewi Lewis Publishing)
Sarah Hannant’s Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through the English Ritual Year (2011)
Merry Brownfield’s Merry England – the Eccentricity of English Attire (2012)
Charles Fréger’s Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage (2012)
Axel Hoedt’s Once a Year (2013)
Estelle Hanania’s Glacial Jubilé (2013)
Axel Hoedt’s Dusk (2015)
Henry Bourne’s Arcadia Britannica: A Modern British Folklore Portrait (2015)
Axel Hoedt’s Fast Nacht (2015)
Charles Fréger’s Yokainoshima: Island of Monsters (2016)

There seemed to be quite a concentration of such books over a six-year period between 2011-2016 but I haven’t come across any new similar publications for a while now. Perhaps the release of these books connected with a wider cultural interest in the undercurrents and flipsides of folk and rural culture which seemed to begin to flower around 2010 or so and gained considerable pace from approximately 2014 onwards. It’s slightly surprising though that there haven’t been many more since then. Perhaps the topic has been thoroughly explored and related book releases had reached a saturation point and the subject needs to lie fallow for a while.

The original post published during the first year of A Year In The Country:


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