A sinister probe ‘followed the baffling death of 15 ponies in a remote part of the moor’, says The Star newspaper on July 14, 1977. The moor in question is Dartmoor. And the cutting is part of photographer Samuel Fradley’s exploration into extra-terrestrial life, and society’s response to it.
Samuel’s investigation began when he started looking into a series of bizarre animal mutilations that occurred in the 1970s.
Dartmoor can be seen from the ArtsCulture offices, so it’s not surprising that the headline cutting ‘UFO Team Probe On Dartmoor’ stood out.
Samuel is the founder of The South West Collective of Photography, and A Handshake With A Martian is his own personal photographic journey.
‘A team of men armed with metal detectors, face masks and a geiger counter scoured Dartmoor in a bid to prove to presence of invaders from outer space,’ continues the Star story.
The use of language is indicative of part of what Samuel is looking to investigate: that combo of breathless paranoia and arm’s length mocking.
“People will pray to a god that they have never seen or met, but yet the existence of extra-terrestrial life visiting earth is laughed at by some and claimed to be implausible by others,” he says.
He’s gathered together evidence, including declassified files, interviews and photographs. With documents from Torquay in 1967, the journey took him to Exmouth, Brixham and Exeter before his investigation took him further afield and into one of the UK’s most famous UFO events.
It’s a fascinating, down-to-earth insight, find out more on The South West Collective.