Salon event 2016

Our Salon events for 2016 start next month, and we are delighted to be partnering with the University of Highlands and Islands to bring you events across Scotland. On the 18th February 2016 we will be hosting an event from Perth College which will be streamed live to venues across Scotland.

We hope you’ll be able to join us!

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Please jois us in Perth or at any of the venues here;

Room 325, Perth College UHI, Creiff Road, Perth, PH1 2NX  tel: 0845 270 1177

Inverness College UHI, 1 Inverness Campus, Inverness, IV2 5NA tel: 01463 273 000

Moray College UHI, Moray Street, Elgin, Moray, IV30 1JJ tel: 01343 576 000

Orkney College UHI, East Road, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1LX tel: 01856 569 000

Shetland College UHI, Gremista, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0PX tel: 01595 771 000

Lews Castle College UHI, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS2 0XR tel: 01851 770 000

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New book by Marc Wilson

We interviewed Marc Wilson and featured his impressive project ‘The Last Stand‘ on the Document Scotland site a while ago. His project beautifully documents some of the physical remnants of the Second World War on the coastlines of the British Isles and northern Europe.

When we first spoke to Marc, he had already travelled to over 100 locations and was in the process of crowd funding  to complete the project and travel to further locations all over Scotland, England, Wales, France, Denmark, Belgium, The Channel Islands and Norway. The result is a beautiful book and an impressive document of the various bunkers, gun emplacements and observation posts which exist on these coastlines. Many of these locations are no longer in sight, either subsumed or submerged by the changing sands and waters or by more human intervention. At the same time others have re-emerged from their shrouds.

In Scotland, the building of coastal defenses was concentrated on Scotland’s east coast as anti-aircraft defenses existed to protect strategic locations on the west, such as the Firth of Clyde, the region’s industries, the shipyards and the city of Glasgow. Some of the locations Marc photographed in Scotland include Lossiemouth, Newburgh, Findhorn, Loch Ewe, Hoy, Flotta, Northmavine, Unst and Lerwick.

 

Marc sent us some information about the book which you can pre-order here – we hope you enjoy it…

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Stanga-Head, Unst, Shetland, Scotland image © Marc Wilson 2013 all rights reserved

Stanger Head, Flotta, Orkney, Scotland, 2013 © Marc Wilson 2013 all rights reserved.  To protect Hoxa Sound, the main entrance channel to Scapa Flow, new coastal defences were established during WW2. They included gun and rocket batteries, boom nets, searchlights, also anti-aircraft and barrage balloon sites. The Navy’s signaling and observation station on Stanger Head was also enlarged.

 

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Lamba Ness, Unst, Shetland, Scotland, 2013 © Marc Wilson 2013 all rights reserved. Because of their proximity to occupied Norway, where the Germans had established U-boat and Luftwaffe bases from which they threatened Allied shipping in the North Atlantic, it became urgent for Britain to extend the range of the radar covering Orkney and Shetland. A Chain Home Low radar station (RAF Skaw) was set up at Lamba Ness in Unst, the most northerly island of Shetland. It could detect enemy aircraft flying at a minimum altitude of 500 feet.

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You can click here to see more of Marc Wilson’s project The Last Stand on his website www.marcwilson.co.uk

Marc is also on Twitter here.

 

 

 

 

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Stone Built by Gunnie Moberg, rebuilt.

It was with pleasure that I followed a link on Twitter today, that great oracle, and found out news that a book of Scottish photography is about to be reprinted. Always joyous news here in Document Scotland.

The book in question is Stone Built by Gunnie Moberg, so with kind permission of the Gunnie Moberg Archive we reproduce below their blog post which tells the story of the reprinting, and they have kindly allowed us to show a few of Gunnie Moberg’s photos from the book also.  – Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

 

Knap of Howar. ©Gunnie Moberg.

Knap of Howar. ©Gunnie Moberg.

 

Stone Built, by Gunnie Moberg

Great news. The Orcadian have just published a facsimile copy of Gunnie Moberg’s 1979 publication Stone Built. This book (originally published by Stromness Books & Prints, which in 1979 had just been taken over by Gunnie’s husband Tam) has been out of print for some time. And so it is great news to see this, Gunnie Moberg’s first book, being made available again.

This edition has been made using new scans from the original black & white negatives held in the Gunnie Moberg Archive. The beautiful compositions, it transpired, were not achieved through later cropping of the photographs but were there on the neg – Gunnie was a full frame photographer, making her decisions through the lens, and all this hundreds of feet up in a small plane.

The Orcadian have included a section at the back which updates some of the information on the sites while leaving the original captions intact. The 18 photographs inside are an aerial tour over some of Orkney’s remarkable archaeology and some lesser known places – one no longer exists, having been claimed by the sea. Gunnie Moberg’s feeling for stone makes this a visual essay on shape and structure. A treasury. A small book of Gunnie’s monumental vision of Orkney.

 

Sheepfort Ruskholm. ©Gunnie Morberg.

Sheepfort Ruskholm. ©Gunnie Morberg.

 

Eynhallow. ©Gunnie Morberg.

Eynhallow. ©Gunnie Morberg.

 

Churchill Barriers. ©Gunnie Morberg.

Churchill Barriers. ©Gunnie Morberg.

 

This was Gunnie Moberg’s first book published just three years after she moved with her family to Orkney.

The book is made up of 18 full page black & white photographs of aerial images of archaeology across Orkney. The photographs spread across the islands and across time from 19th Century agricultural buildings to Neolithic chambered tombs. The earliest stone structure is Papa Westray’s Knap of Howar (3,500B.C) and the latest is the WW2 Churchill Barriers. The photographs were shot on 35mm Ilford HP5 and FP4 film.

 

Maeshowe. ©Gunnie Morberg.

Maeshowe. ©Gunnie Morberg.

 

In the acknowledgments Gunnie thanks Andy Alsop the pilot who flew Gunnie around the islands in the Loganair small Islander plane. To find out more about Gunnie’s aerial photography visit here.

Stone Built is available now through The Orcadian bookshop and Stromness Books & Prints priced at £7.99.

 

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As You Are in North Ronaldsay

On a brilliantly bright, icy cold, winter Sunday afternoon recently I caught up with Giulietta Verdon Roe  over coffee and cake.

I knew that Giulietta had made several visits to the remote Scottish island of North Ronaldsay over a number of years to create a documentary photographic project of the population and character of the island. I was really interested to hear how her photographic project As You Are had begun and why, and what it had been like making the work. The relationships she established with the island inhabitants over time culminated in a body of work which has been exhibited in numerous locations in the UK including The Manse House on the island itself. In an ex-Royal Mail van, Giulietta drove the exhibition from London to Orkney and, due to a storm preventing the ferry taking her work to the island from the mainland, had to freight plane the entire show to the island.

With freezing hands that afternoon we looked through her box of prints and chatted about what had attracted her to the project in the first place.

John O ' Westness, Bay of Ryasgeo, North Ronaldsay 2008

John O ‘ Westness, The only fisherman on North Ronaldsay, doesn’t have a working boat, Bay of Ryasgeo, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2008 all rights reserved.

 

GVR: “I’d been living and working in New York for three years and in 2007 I found myself unexpectedly back in the UK. Maps have always fascinated me, I’ve always been drawn to the romance of far away places and after living in NYC I’d found myself looking, this time, to those out of the way places which were a little closer to home.

It appealed to me that for this project I would be constrained to a specific location when making the work. I began researching remote places in the UK and my attention was drawn again and again to Orkney and to North Ronaldsay in particular. Being the furthest most northernly island in the UK, it was its isolation which first fascinated me, that and the fact that it is home to both to the tallest land based lighthouse in the UK and had unique seaweed eating sheep. I bought a tent and booked my flight.

In 2008 I set off. Arriving on the island alone, I didn’t know what to expect.  the first thing that struck me was that island life is utterly dependent on the weather. By the time I’d pitched my tent that first night in North Ronaldsay in September it was cold, windy and dark and I was wondering what on earth I was doing…

I’d romanticised the idea perhaps, an island adventure, far away. My photographic process took quite a few days to begin, and it was almost 2 weeks before I made any pictures, I was interested in the stories and so I walked, and I met people and I talked to them, eventually borrowing an old bike to get around.

The conversations were what came first, with the photographs coming relatively late in the process. I was interested in understanding the everyday life of the island, of understanding how things worked there, I wanted to explore the past, present and future of the island and its community. The locals were used to ornithologists visiting, but not so used to people like me, someone who wanted to know about them and the land. It took time for a mutual understanding and confidence to start to become established.”

Heading towards Bridesness, North Ronaldsay, 2010.

Heading towards Bridesness, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR: “Island life is all about the weather. You are at the mercy of it. I felt very aware of my size in relation to the elements, the vulnerability of everything. I felt that I couldn’t make portraits without shooting the elements. The people are so much part of the landscape, it meant that I didn’t want to photograph the people without photographing the land.”

Jennie O' Scottigar, The oldest lady on the island when this was taken, bringing in her washing, 2008, North Ronaldsay.

Jennie O’ Scottigar, The oldest lady on the island when this was taken, bringing in her washing, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR “One interesting aspect of community life on North Ronaldsay is that people adopt the names of their houses, as a way to refer to each other. Jenny’s house was O’Scottigar, and that was how she became known. We spent a lot of time talking, We talked about the war, she remembers walking to school with her gas mask in her hand and how heavy it was. She was born on the island and didn’t leave its shores until she was in her very late teens.”

Point of Twingness, Seaweed eating sheep, North Ronaldsay. 2010

Point of Twingness, Seaweed eating sheep, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR “The seaweed eating sheep are unique to North Ronaldsay, they are kept out to shore by a 12 mile long dry stone dyke that surrounds the island. There are about 3000 of them and they’re quite beautiful and wild, nearly everyone has some sheep of their own. Twice a year, there is an event that I have yet to see, it’s called Punding and its one of the oldest forms of communal farming still practised today. The whole community help round up the sheep into pens known as ‘punds’, once a year to separate the pregnant ewes from the flock to keep them on the land for lambing and at another time of year to sheer their coats and give them their injections.”

(Heather O' Twingness), Nouster Bay, North Ronaldsay.

(Heather O’ Twingness), Nouster Bay, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR “Heather was the youngest female on the island when I photographed her in 2010. She is the daughter of the island doctor and the owner of the islands Bird Observatory. Heather commutes to mainland Orkney to go to school.”

The population of North Ronaldsay when I first arrived in 2008 was 63, just 2 years later in 2010 when I re-visited the project the population had dropped to 50. In a small community like this, this was a big change and the school was left temporarily without any children to teach despite being kept open. The orkney island council built two new houses on the island in response to the situation and launched a promotion to select two new families to move to the island, which was a great boost to the community and resulted in putting children back into the school.”

(The Manse), North Ronaldsay.

(The Manse), North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

“I exhibited the ‘As You Are’ exhibition in this house in 2010. At that time it was un-lived in and had been empty for 40 years, but since then the islands school teacher has moved in and there is now new life in the building, it’s been brought back into habitation again. There’s been so much change. It’s also an important place for me as the exhibition was shown here. By seeing the exhibition, I’d hoped the islanders could really understand the project. It’s one thing to see the work online or as small images but to see yourself in a 30″x30″ print is a very different thing.”

(Jimmie O'Lochend). On his roof of Lochend, fixing his chimney. North Ronaldsay.

Jimmie O’Lochend on his roof of Lochend, fixing his chimney. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Gavin O'Twingness). The youngest islander when this was taken, pictured here in a bird catching cage in order to ring and monitor birds. He has just put out some North Ronadlsay Mutton Bones down to attract the birds. 2010.

Gavin O’Twingness). The youngest islander when this was taken, in a bird catching cage in order to ring and monitor birds.
He has just put out some North Ronadlsay Mutton Bones down to attract the birds.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Lighthouse and Moon, the UK's Tallest Land Based Lighthouse. North Ronaldsay. Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2008 all rights reserved.

Lighthouse and Moon, the UK’s Tallest Land Based Lighthouse. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2008 all rights reserved.

Jen in the Wool Mill.

Jen in the Wool Mill processing some of the islands native sheep wool. Many islanders have multiple jobs, Jen worked at the Bird Observatory, was an ornithologist and also work part-time at the islands yarn mill. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Byre, North Ronaldsay, 2010. A native North Ronaldsay sheep whose lamb has died 'not taking' to a non-native orphaned lamb. North Ronaldsay. Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Byre, North Ronaldsay, 2010. A native North Ronaldsay sheep whose lamb has died ‘not taking’ to a non-native orphaned lamb. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR: “Whenever I met people they would always ask where I wanted to take their portrait and if they should get dressed up or how they should be posed. So in a way the project named itself as I always explained I want to photograph you the way you are, just as you are.

I loved working in Scotland, it really became a huge part of my life and one that was important to me. It has meant that I have gone on to do other projects in other areas of Scotland and I am also planning future ones too. I now for example cannot watch a weather forecast without looking at Orkney. Just as the environment is so wild and changeable, so can my feelings and emotions be when I am there. Sometimes I loved it, and sometimes I just couldn’t place what on earth I was doing, but more importantly I’ve been left with a powerful relationship with the area.”

 

Many thanks Giulietta for talking to Document Scotland about this project. To see more of Giulietta Verdon-Roe’s photography visit http://www.giuliettaverdon-roe.com/#/home

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