Hand to Mouth explores the lives of villagers and nomadic shepherds in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. Made over a period of four years, Tessa Bunney worked closely with these communities, spending prolonged periods in villages and shepherd camps. As the title suggests, these people survive precariously by their own labour, bringing a new reality to our often idealised notion of self-sufficiency. Bunney takes us on a journey through the seasons, witnessing the changing landscape and the rhythms of rural activities: cheese making, crop harvesting and sheep milking. Her photographs reveal a way of life that is at times idyllic, yet often harsh. With Romania’s new EU membership and its associated health regulations, this mountain culture, rich in traditions linked closely with the land, is now under threat.
Hand to Mouth was supported by Arts Council England, the European Cultural Foundation and Impressions Gallery.