Starlings On Fire – Peter Iain Campbell

30th July 2016

“ It tests you physically, mentally and emotionally. Every single corner of your psyche gets

seriously rinsed out here……….”

(Title image: Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.)

Starlings On Fire, © Peter iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

SEARCHING FOR THE ANTITHESIS / A TANGLED WEB OF PIPING
11th November 2013 – 12th August 2014
Being strapped to a seat inside a metal cylinder and then submerged in a large, deep pool of tepid
water, to perform helicopter safety and escape drills, was the easy part. Establishing a way of
getting onto an offshore installation in the North Sea to work, let alone undertake a photography
project, was definitely going to be the hard part.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

In late 2013, a sequence of photography projects and wild notions had brought me to an Offshore
Survival Centre in Aberdeen where I undertook the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and
Emergency Training course – the minimum requirement for anyone wanting to work offshore in
the Oil and Gas Industry. Completing the course didn’t guarantee anything, other than a fairly
deep hole in my pockets.
For the following 10 months, while continuing my work as a photographer, I contacted all the
Recruitment Agencies, Drilling Contractors and Facilities Companies based in Aberdeen, trying to
find a route into the offshore world. I had to be very resourceful. Photography is not a
particularly transferable skill into the Oil and Gas Industry.
I got lucky, and in August 2014 I started my first, 2-week trip offshore. It was on the Janice Alpha
Platform, situated in the central North Sea, approximately 175 miles south east of Aberdeen.
I remember my first helicopter flight. I was simultaneously excited and anxious. It was the
antithesis of the life as a photographer I had known up to that point. Exactly what I was looking
for. As we approached the production platform, I looked out of the window and witnessed this
vibrant, bright orange gas flare and what appeared to me to be a chaotic, tangled web of piping
floating in the sea. It seemed surreal, alien and almost post-apocalyptic. My life offshore was
about to begin.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Mid-2013
The genesis of ‘Starlings On Fire’ came in the form of two projects that I was working on
simultaneously during 2013, but which were conceived independently of each other. These
projects formed part of my ongoing interest in post-industrial landscapes. There was an
overarching dystopian nature to both projects.
I had been researching archival images that had the potential to be physically projected back into
some of the decayed ‘monolithic’ environments that I had been shooting in. I kept returning to an
image I have which dates back to the early 1900s. It depicts two diving men sitting opposite each
other, outside a telescopic gasholder, presumably about to commence interior test work on the
holder. I find the image truly captivating. It haunts me. I know nothing about the two men or the
photographer who took the picture.

 

granton_web
Gas Holder No.1, Granton Gas Works, ca. 1905, Photographer Unknown.

 

I started to examine the cache of albums that accompanied this image. They document the
construction of the Granton Gas Works in Edinburgh. I wondered about the lives of the workers
depicted in these photographs, posing with a steely, emotionless gaze towards the camera,
dwarfed by the construction of huge buildings and machinery that surrounded them. I was lost in
the notion of living during that time – documenting the construction of this vast world. I started
to consider the idea of producing a body of work now, which could act as a kind of ‘time capsule’
and be something looked back through in 20 or 30 years time. I needed an industry that
remained relatively unchanged since its beginnings and was somehow cocooned from the social,
political and economic pressures exerted on more land based industries.
I was intrigued by the incongruous existence of the offshore Oil and Gas Installation – a collision
of industry and nature. I quickly established that the only way I was going to be able to produce a
body of photographic work offshore was to try and work out there.

 

October 2016
I worked for 2 years onboard a Drilling Rig in the North Sea, situated approximately 130 miles
east of Aberdeen. After about 5 months working on a 3:3 Rotation (3 weeks on/ 3 weeks off) and
having bedded myself in to the demands and culture of offshore life, I was granted permission to
start shooting on the rig. Initially, this was restricted to seascapes only. I shot the entire project
on 120 film, which aside from what Roger Ballen calls the ‘great alchemy of analogue’, meant that
I didn’t have to get a Permit to Work every time I wanted to shoot. This was a good thing. It gave
me relative freedom to work around my 12-hour daily shifts and I often worked at night, where
shooting opportunities often only presented themselves at 2 or 3am in the morning.

 

Starlings On Fire, ©Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

The seascapes were more than just a photographic opportunity however. The entire process
became ritualistic and a means of escape, metaphorically speaking. This was my incentive and
motivation for getting through an arduous shift or trip. The magic hour (at both ends of the day)
became a period of reflective solitude, yet the perpetual humming of the rig always prevented the
experience from developing into something more spiritual.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

A positive acknowledgement of my seascape work allowed me to extend the scope of the project.
I was granted unprecedented access to the entire rig and with the approval of the on-shift driller,
I could shoot in and around its fulcrum, the drill floor. I was constantly drawn to this area.
Between the driller’s digital control hub, ‘The Dog House’, and the machinery and workings on
the drill floor, I often thought it was like entering the combined fictional worlds of H.G.Wells and
William Gibson. I was a photographer documenting heavy industry in the late 1800’s, but in a
strange parallel universe where there had been a sudden spike in technological advancement.
I developed a strong relationship with the core and third party crews onboard, but I had an
almost equal interest in the architecture, machinery and layout of the rig. There’s an underlying
feeling of isolation, volatility and danger offshore. The confined physical environment can be
claustrophobic, the natural elements harsh and brutal. By combining the seascapes and the
portraits I wanted to convey these qualities, but maintain a certain level of distance and
anonymity between the crew and the viewer, referencing the archival industrial photographs
that had inspired me three years earlier.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

31st July 2016

“ Do you know where you’ll be redeployed when this contract is up? ”

“ Aye…..the dole queue.”

“Hah, really?!”

“Aye, I’m not fucking kidding. This is the third slump I’ve experienced and it’s definitely the

worst. I think the North Sea’s fucked. I don’t think it’ll ever recover………unless we get a good

old war……….. the good times are gone. The way I see it, if this is gonna be my last trip, then I

reckon this could be my last time offshore. If there are jobs out here, then the money’ll

probably be shite.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

There are many areas within the Oil and Gas Industry that are deeply problematic and
controversial. The offshore installation almost acts as a provocative totem for the industry.
When I started this project in August 2014 the price of oil was approximately $110 per barrel
and there was much speculation that the industry in the North Sea would continue to thrive for
another 30 – 40 years.
By February 2016 the price of oil had slumped to an 11 year low of $28 per barrel. Oil companies,
suppliers and contractors started streamlining their operations, which lead to many people
across the industry losing their jobs. The North Sea was particularly hard hit. Its waters are
amongst the most expensive in the world for carrying out Oil and Gas exploration and
production. This year the Industry approved less than £1billion to spend on new projects,
compared to a typical £8billion per year in the last five years. According to Oil and Gas UK’s
Activity Survey, published in February 2016, if the price of oil were to remain at approx. $30 for
the remainder of 2016 then nearly half (43%) of all UKCS (UK Continental Shelf) oil fields would
likely be operating at a loss, deterring any further exploration and investment.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

The number of Drilling Rigs operating in the North Sea plunged in September to 27, the lowest
number since records began in 1982. In the same month, the drilling contract for the Drilling Rig
I worked on expired. The vast majority of the crew onboard were served notice of redundancy
and the rig was towed into the shipyard, where it remains today.
Decommissioning in the North Sea is being viewed across sections of the industry as being the
major investment opportunity of the future.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

21st July 2016

“ Pink Floyd! Is that Pink Floyd?! ”

“ No. It’s Mogwai.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.
Starlings On Fire, © Peter Iain Campbell, all rights reserved.

 

Many thanks to Peter Iain Campbell for allowing us to share his project.

Peter Iain Campbell photography website, and Peter Iain Campbell on Instagram.

North Sea Fishing – Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Back in the day I’d had an assignment from a Scottish newspaper to go out on a fishing boat which was taking part in a fisherman’s demonstration against EU regulations and quotas. It was only an overnight job, but it gave me a taste of being at sea.

“Can I come back and come out with you sometime when you go out fishing”” I asked the skipper Ronnie Hughes, of the seine net boat Mairead. When he’d stopped laughing he answered, “Aye, but if you’re sick, you’ll be sick for ten days and we’re not taking you back in.” I agreed to his terms.

It wasn’t too long after, not wishing to let the chance slip, that I boarded the boat in Aberdeen harbour and we set off into the North Sea for ten days of fishing for cod and herring. I didn’t even know the difference between a cod and a herring.

My sea legs appeared by magic, and soon I was scrambling all over that boat like an old sea dog. For the crew these trips can be exceedingly dull, monotonous and repetitive. I was probably light entertainment for them as they told me their stories, and explained their work.

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Argosy', on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Argosy’, on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Argosy', on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Argosy’, on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Argosy', on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Argosy’, on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

A while later I decided to venture out again, this time with the Argosy from Peterhead. Another ten days off out to sea, over near Norway somewhere. Same routine, throw the net overboard, wait an hour and half, circle the boat round, play dice games, drink more tea, read the Daily Mirror for the 276th time, pull in the net, retrieve the fish, gut the fish, stow the fish, chuck the net overboard, make more tea, read the Daily Mirror again…

Looking back on these images recently as I edited them for a new Café Royal Books publication, North Sea Fishing, they brought back so many memories for me. I could see each ship clearly in my mind, remembering the moments; of eating Angel Delight for desert and fried cod roe for breakfast, of the crew member who read his bible every morning and evening, of watching Kim Basinger in The Getaway, of hearing of the boat that pulled up their nets to find a car in them, of hearing of large waves which buckled metal, and of the deaths of loved ones swept overboard.

As one skipper said to me, “the North Sea is a cruel mistress. You love her and want to be with her, but she’s hard.” Ever since those North Sea trips I’ve ventured out on many oceanic assignments, from the North Sea to the Pacific, the Sea of China to the South Atlantic, the Irish Sea to the Southern Ocean. And all the time I remained standing in force 12 storms, stalwart on the bridge looking out the window loving every peak and trough that shuddered the metal of the ship and the bones of my body. And every time I’m there I think back to the Mairead and Argosy, and the hospitality and education those boats and crew gave me. – Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Argosy', on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Argosy’, on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Mairead', on the North Sea, 1993. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Mairead’, on the North Sea, 1993. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Argosy', on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Argosy’, on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Argosy', on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Argosy’, on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

Aboard the seine netter 'Argosy', on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.
Aboard the seine netter ‘Argosy’, on the North Sea, 1995. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, all rights reserved.

 

With thanks to Ronnie Hughes and the crews of the Mairead and the Argosy.

Some of the above images appear in a new 32-page Café Royal Books publication, North Sea Fishing, published in a limited edition of 150, in October 2015.

 

The Scottish Independence Referendum

 

Highs, lows, an historical and unforgettable week for Scotland.

Here are some of the images shot by Colin McPherson, Sophie Gerrard, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Stephen McLaren in the lead up to and over the 18th September 2014. The world was watching, and so were we…

 

 

Colin McPherson

(above: Alex Salmond and a supporter take a ‘selfie’, Perth, Scotland image © Colin McPherson 2014, all rights reserved.)

© Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.
A pro-independence gathering in George Square, Glasgow © Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.
The audience cheer as former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP delivers a speech to supporters at a Better Together rally at Community Central Hall, Glasgow © Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.
A musician with flaming bagpipes leads a spontaneous march to mobilise support for a pro-independence vote on the day of the independence referendum, Craigmillar, Edinburgh © Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.
Members of the Protestant Orange Order march through Edinburgh © Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.
Scottish socialist campaigner and former parliamentarian Tommy Sheridan speaking at Shottstown Miners Welfare club in Penicuik, Midlothian © Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.
A pro-independence supporter breaks down in tears outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh as the results of the referendum on Scottish independence are announced. © Colin McPherson 2014 all rights reserved.

 

 

Sophie Gerrard

140918SG_IndyRef_9698
The media village outside the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, Edinburgh, on a misty 18th September 2014, the day of the independence referendum. © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.

 

Union Flag and St Andrews Cross fly from a front garden in Argyll, Scotland. © Sophie gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.
The Union Flag and St Andrews Cross fly from a garden in Argyll, Scotland. © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.

 

140918SG_IndyRef_9662
The Craxton Family at their local polling station, Edinburgh, 18th September 2014 © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.

 

140918SG_IndyRef_9675
Erik Kruse at his local polling station, Edinburgh, 18th September 2014 © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.

 

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A family at their local polling station, Edinburgh, 18th September 2014 © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.

 

201412SG_IndyRef_7033
Bruce, Edinburgh, September 2014 © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.

 

140919SG_IndyRef_9945
Overseas media report on the results of the independence referendum from outside the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh, 19th September 2014. © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved

 

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Being interviewed outside the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh, 19th September 2014. © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved

 

 

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

© Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.
Pro-Union No voters argue in the street with pro-Independence Yes voters, in the run up to the referendum in Glasgow, Scotland. © Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.

 

512267683JS046_Referendum_D
Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, talking to youths while out campaigning for a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum, East End of Glasgow, Scotland © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.
A heated exchange of opinions takes place between pro-Scottish independence supporters and a pro-Union supporter in the run-up to the referendum on Scottish independence in Glasgow, Scotland © Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.
A pro-Union Better Together campaign sticker reading ‘No Thanks’ is affixed to a window alongside a Union Jack flag, Glasgow, Scotland © Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.
Pro-Independence Yes supporters in George Square the day before the Scottish independence referendum, Glasgow, Scotland © Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.
Gordon Brown speaks at a pro-Union event, the day before the Scottish Independence referendum, Glasgow, Scotland © Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.

 

© Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.
Jim Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Scotland, arrives carrying his soapboxes as he continued his ‘100 towns in 100 days’ tour outside the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland © Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved © Jeremy Sutton Hibbert 2014 all rights reserved.

 

 

Stephen McLaren

© Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.
Bruce Turnbull, of Leith, Edinburgh, salutes after he has cast his vote in the Independence Referendum on 18th September 2014 © Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.

 

© Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.
Men walk on a foggy Calton Hill, a famous Edinburgh landmark, as the polling boots open for the Scottish independence referendum on 18th of September 2014 © Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.

 

© Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.
A young girl standing in front of TV crews as they interview Alex Salmond, in Glasgow during the independence referendum © Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.

 

© Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.
A supporter of the No to Scottish Independence campaign, at a polling place in central Edinburgh © Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.

 

© Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.
Nicola Sturgeon being interviewed in Glasgow for radio during the independence referendum campaign © Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.

 

© Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.
George Square, Glasgow on the night of the independence referendum © Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.

 

 

This is only a small selection of the work shot by Document Scotland’s 4 photographers on the days surrounding the 18th September 2014. You can see more on each of on our websites and by following these links …

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert on Getty Images

Colin McPherson on Corbis Images

Sophie Gerrard for The Financial Times

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert in TIME

Colin McPherson in The Independent on Sunday

Sophie Gerrard in The Telegraph

Stephen McLaren and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert for Der Spiegel

Colin McPherson in TIME

Sophie Gerrard on Instagram for The Photographers’ Gallery

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert in The Guardian, here, here, and here

Colin McPherson in The Guardian here , here and here

Sophie Gerrard for Le Monde

Colin McPherson for Le Monde

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Colin McPherson in Armen Magazine

Colin McPherson in The New Yorker

Photographs were also published in The Daily Record, L’express, Internazionale & Nation

Document Scotland in the British Journal of Photography and again here

Document Scotland on Photomonitor and again here

Document Scotland in The BBC

Time And Tide Wait For No Man.

Luke Brown sent us this series of images ‘Time And Tide Wait For No Man’, a look at the outdoor swimming pool areas of the Edwardian and Victorian eras. It isn’t a subject matter we’d seen covered before, and knowing nothing of Scottish outdoor pools we find it of interest and Luke has graciously shared it below with his introduction. – Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert.

 

Cellardyke Tidal Pool, East Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
Cellardyke Tidal Pool, East Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

Time And Tide Wait For No Man, by Luke Brown.

The tidal pools represent some of the last standing man made structures that do not come under scrutiny from current health and safety rules.

This is due to the period in which they were built, if built today they would be designed under the constraints imposed by present day regulations. These very rules now affect the existence of the remaining pools. They are under threat from lack of maintenance, being exposed to the harshest of elements scattered along Britain’s margins.

“A sense of superiority of English Landscape aesthetics was linked to a broader certainty that English ways were the best ways of doing things and of their natural superiority and authority over other people and places (Seymour 2000)

Britain’s sense of hierarchy over the landscape is evident up until the very edges of our coastline where the tidal swimming pools can be found, built originally for the enjoyment of newfound leisure time, and as a safe haven for swimming away from the dangers of the sea.

The structures embody the Edwardian and Victorian periods, acting as a reflection of Great Britain’s strength and power, during the reign of The British Empire. At the islands peak in 1922, Great Britain controlled almost a quarter of the Earth’s total landmass. These manmade constructions are a product and symbol of The British Empire, demonstrating England’s attitude towards controlling the land.

At present the spaces represent something very different. The tidal swimming pools now “hold an absence of order from the social laws of today that keep us in check.” (Ribas recalling Baltz) A space where freedom of expression can be celebrated, where people can make choices to act on instinct and common sense, rather than the behavioural constraints dictated upon society.

 

North Baths, Wick, North Highland, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
North Baths, Wick, North Highland, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

Pittenweem Tidal Pool, Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
Pittenweem Tidal Pool, Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

Step Rock, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
Step Rock, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

North Berwick Tidal Pool, East Lothian, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
North Berwick Tidal Pool, East Lothian, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

The pools are photographed on a 4×5 plate camera, a Victorian invention, during the tidal swimming pools downtime, the winter period, to show the landscape in its rawest state. A time when the tidal pools themselves struggle to survive under the harsh coastal weather conditions, battling against the typical British Winters to stay in existence.

But even these spaces have restrictions, the most prevalent limit being nature. The tide dictates the space and its use, however the ocean answers to the gravitational pull of the Moon. While the tide is in, the majority of the pools are hidden in an unforgiving dark mass, becoming un-swimmable. This natural occurrence still holds a very dominant sense of control over humans and the landscape, dictating the conditions of use, enjoyment and documentation.

“Time and tide wait for no man.” (Geoffrey Chaucer)

 

Portsoy Tidal Pool, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
Portsoy Tidal Pool, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

St. Monan's Tidal Pool, Anstruther, Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
St. Monan’s Tidal Pool, Anstruther, Fife, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

The Trinkie, Wick, North Highlands, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
The Trinkie, Wick, North Highlands, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

Powfoot Tidal Pool, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.
Powfoot Tidal Pool, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. ©Luke Brown 2014.

 

Luke Brown’s photography website is here, and you can chat with him via his Twitter feed.
Going To The Hills by Glyn Satterley

Going To The Hill

It is with great pleasure that Document Scotland can today showcase the work by Glyn Satterley, from his latest book ‘Going To The Hill, Life On Scottish Sporting Estates’.  This is the tenth book by Glyn, a renowned freelancer whose work has been widely exhibited and published in magazines. He has spent many years documenting life on Scotland’s sporting estates, and his earlier book, The Highland Game, concentrated purely on Highland estates was published in 1992. This new book brings estate life up to the present and covers the whole of Scotland.

On our blog you can view selected pages from the book, as well as watch a film in which Glyn talks with enthusiasm for the work, lifestyle and Scottish landscape.

“I have always loved this work by Glyn, and it gives me great pride to be graciously allowed to feature it here as a folio. It truly is a treat to delve into the books and archives from which this work is selected and to be able to choose images, to read Glyn’s words, and to learn about both the sporting estate lifestyle and culture, and also through the words sense Glyn’s enthusiasm for his work, and his love for Scotland’s landscape.” – Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert.

All below captions and images are © Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

 

The helicopter departs, Invercauld, Aberdeenshire. © Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“Looking somewhat dismayed, these guns were deposited high up on the Invercauld hillside in pursuit of ptarmigan. Helicopter is not the usual mode of transport, but this was a charity auction day.”

 

The Stalking Party, Glen Affric, Inverness-shire. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“On this particular day out on the hill, stalker Ronnie Buchan not only had to put up with four people in the party, but also accomodate the photographer and find a ‘shootable’ stag. Great stalker that he is, Ronnie delivered the goods.”

 

Jimmy unleashes the Glenlyon hounds, Perthshire. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“Universally, keepers and stalkers are obsessed with controlling foxes and Jimmy Lambie is no exception. He does, however, have the advantage over most other keepers who usually work single handedly, aided by only a couple of terriers. Jimmy runs a pack of thirteen fox hounds.”

 

The Beaters’ Wagon, Islay Estates, Islay. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“Rather like Dr. Who’s Tardis, a glimpse inside this wagon reveals it to be full to the gunwales, including one of the guns, umpteen beaters and a whole gang of dogs.”

 

The Cleaning Squad, Reay Forest, Sutherland. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“These ladies were heading for one of the outlying lodges on the estate to prepare for incoming guests.”

 

Morning cleaning, Glencalvie Lodge, Sutherland. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

 

‘Spring’ pointer and setter trial, Tomatin, Inverness-shire. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“These Easter-time trials are often a lottery regarding the weather. This one was brought to a halt as a snowy squall passed through, leaving the landscape covered in white, frozen, human and doggy sculptures.”

 

Loading onto the Argo, Assynt, Sutherland. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

 

The start of a long drag, Benmore, Isle of Mull. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“This was a wonderful scene, set amidst dramatic landscape, but eventually the euphoria wore off. The stag had been shot on a steep down slope, and the only way to extract it was to drag it downward, and then along the valley floor. Sounds easy, but the bottom of the valley section was a mile or two away, traversing burns every few hundred yards. The three of us shared the pulling, working two at a time, but it became more and more difficult as we got hotter and hotter, and each tiny incline felt like a mountain. The person not pulling had the added burden of carrying everybody else’s discarded clothing, plus my camera kit. You can imagine our relief when we finally got close enough for the Argo to collect it.”

 

Wind turbine grouse, Farr, Tomatin, Inverness-shire. ©Glyn Satterley 2012, all rights reserved.

“Controversial though they may be, wind turbines have revived some estates fortunes. This one at Farr required sixteen miles of road to be laid, which has given keepers access to the moor and helped with vermin control. Interestingly, the highest densities of grouse are now being recorded in and around the turbines, which probably means the blades deter raptors. It does however look and feel a little unnatural, having huge structures whirring away in the backdrop whilst people are shooting from butts.”

 

Click here to purchase Glyn Satterley’s ‘Going To The Hill, Life On Scottish Sporting Estates’.

View Glyn Satterley’s photography website and print sales page here.

 

The Dunes

“Sophie Gerrard’s project The Dunes, is about a Site of Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire that Donald Trump has turned into a golf course; but it’s not just about that. Depicting local people whose lives and livelihoods have been irrevocably changed by Trump International Golf Links it’s also a story about the power of money and the lack of regard for the environment.

Foveran Links used to be home to an enormous, shape-shifting network of sand dunes; constantly moving, it created the unique community of plants and animals that made it an SSSI. This designation should have ensured it was protected, and initially Trump’s planning application was refused. Then the Scottish government, lured in by the 6000 jobs the American billionaire was promising to create, intervened. The jobs have not materialised but the golf course has, riding roughshod over local people; those who have refused to sell up and move on have found their houses boxed in behind giant bunkers of earth and screens of thick spruce and pine.

These people are not happy but there’s little left they can say – they can’t afford to fight Trump and the army of lawyers he can fund. In Scotland this story has special resonance, recalling the Highland Clearances and the depopulation forced by landowners; it also recalls China’s famous holdouts, single houses standing firm against developers. These disenfranchised locals can’t speak out, Gerrard’s images eloquently tell their story.”  – Diane Smyth, Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Photography, 2012.

 

“The vast shifting dunes at Foveran Links, Menie, were once one of the few remaining examples of true wilderness in the UK. This dynamic landscape, a wonder of the world, has, however, been stabalised and sterilised, bulldozed and flattened into “The greatest golf course in the world” according to Trump. The Dunes presents a social document and intimate portrait of a vulnerable community and landscape on the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire. Portraits of the residents and their personal accounts and memories communicate not only the local, environmental and political impact this controversial development has had on such a unique and fragile landscape, but also the deep personal and emotional scars left on a community bullied into submission and left with no voice.”  – Sophie Gerrard, 2012

 

“These dunes are the jewels in the crown of our national identity. The equivalent of our rainforests, once they’re gone, they’re gone.”  – Dr Jim Hansom, Geomorphologist, University of Glasgow

 

Susan Munro, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2012) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Susan Munro
Susan Munro is one of the residents living on the Menie estate. Having refused an offer from Trump International to buy her home, she  has seen the landscape outside her door change dramatically over the  past few years. “Bringing up my  two little boys here,  they had everything you could want growing up,” she recalls. “It was two minutes to the beach,  and it was the busiest house in the summer, full of kids, happy  children all the time. And now that’s come to a halt.” Munro’s home is situated in the middle of the Trump development; the ground in front of it has been raised and levelled and a huge pile of sand; set to be a car park; now blocks the view from her kitchen window. “I sometimes feel like a captive in my own house. I go out the door and I’m stopped, I get 100 yards out the door and I’m stopped by them, “where are you going, this is private land.” It happens everyday. I get stopped when I’m out walking the dog, or when I try to go down to the beach. They try and stop me, and then they follow me, they get out of their jeep and they follow me all the way down onto the beach behind me and the dog. It’s awful.””They sit up there in their 4x4s on that bank of sand facing my house and look right in at me,” she says. “It really cheeses me off. I used to know these dunes like the back of my hand; now I don’t know where I’m going. It’s changed so much. It’s heartbreaking.”

Leyton Cottage, Susan Munro’s home, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In April 2012 a 9 foot high pile of earth planted with spruce trees was erected by Trump International around the periphery of Susan’s home. “I can’t see out my windows in any direction, he’s completely blocked my view. The dust is unbearable. Everything’s filthy.” Susan Munro from ‘The Dunes’ (2012) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Marram grass planting to enable dune stabilisation at the Trump International Golf Links on the Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. from ‘The Dunes’ (2012) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

“The great importance of the sand dome was that it was mobile, it was a great shifting system, it wasn’t
fixed. So if you plant it, if you try and stabilise it you will ruin the very aspect which made it unique.
If you halt the progression of these dunes by planting them, you’re effectively sterilising the entire
dynamic system.” – Johnny Hughes, Director of Conservation, the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

 

The 9 foot high pile of earth planted with spruce trees was erected by Trump International around the periphery of Susan Munro’s home. Leyton Cottage, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. From ‘The Dunes’ (2012) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Tarmac golf buggy paths on the course at Trump International Golf Links, Menie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Michael Forbes, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Michael Forbes
Forbes and his family have lived on the Menie Estate for generations. His uncle, father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all fishermen. “My uncle, who was a salmon-fisher, bought this place in 1956,” he explains. “I left school and came to work for him, until eventually my father and I bought a salmon station and we worked that together. “When I first came to live here, there was no green at all, only sand. I’ve watched it change and grow for the past 40 years. This place means peace and quiet; it’s paradise. Where else would you find anywhere like it? There’s nowhere.” That all changed, of course, with the advent of the construction work. “The wildlife is just outside my door, or at least it was till the diggers came,” he recalls.
One of the golf course’s most outspoken critics, Forbes has been at the forefront of the planning battle against the development, and in return has been branded a “loser” and a “village idiot” in a statement issued by the billionaire himself. In 2011, Forbes’ access route through the dunes to the sea was closed by Trump. Which means that he no longer fishes for salmon. “Now that the access is blocked, well, I can’t fight him,” Forbes says. “He’ll win; he has too many lawyers.” So why does Forbes remain on this land rather than sell up? “I think if I’d been younger, I’d have taken [Trump’s] offer [to sell up],” he explains, “I’d have sold. But I’ve been here for 40-odd years now, and I want to stay. “It’s a wild place. It’s my home.”

 

Pillbox, Balmedie Dunes, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, “The World War II pillboxes are still there in the dunes. The army blew most of them up after the war but some remain. they used to sit on top of the dunes at one time, they’ve moved with the shifting sands. In some bad storms I’ve known them to be completely covered by the shifting sand and then re-appear years later. It’s always changing.” Michael Forbes from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Photographs in Michael Forbes’ home show him and his uncle salmon fishing off the Aberdeen Bay beach. Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Snow on the Menie dunes, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

David Milne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

David Milne
Milne bought his home on the Menie Estate in 1992; a former coastguard station, it sits 30m up and 300m back from the high-tide mark. From the roof-top lookout tower you can see the spectacular 40-mile coastline of Aberdeen Bay.
“It’s the serenity,” he says, explaining the attraction of the place. “You can hear the waves, the birds, the sea. It’s pretty close to being an untouched landscape – or at least it was. That is what I fell in love with 20 years ago when I saw it.”
With the arrival of the golf course, things have changed. “Trump described my home as an eyesore: he didn’t want his golfers to see it,” he says, adding, “They came and planted Sitka spruce and Scots pine, which blocked our view – but half of them are blown down or dying now. Fully grown trees planted at the top of a hill need a lot of water. We’re 100ft up and 700ft back from the high-water mark and we regularly get salt spray on the windows. All the wind that comes off the sea here is heavily laden with sand and salt. Those trees are brown on the seaward side. They’re dying; the salt in the air is no good for them.
“The dunes were a very strange and beautiful place,” he reflects. “It was an evocative site, and isolating – there were spots where you could see nothing else. We used to walk down through the dunes every weekend, then up the beach to Newburgh. It was a perfect place to live. People say it’s only a patch of sand, but it’s not. It was a unique and valuable wilderness, valuable to Scotland, to the UK and to those of us who live here. This development is a tragedy.”

Storm damaged spruce pines, David Milne’s house, Menie Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

Trump International Golf Links, Menie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

“By turfing and stabilising the dunes, the unique landscape has now lost all its scientific value. What was once a valuable environmental asset for the UK has been lost.” – Dr Jim Hansom, Geomorphologist, University of Glasgow

 

Sand dunes further down the coast at Balmedie, Aberdeenshire coast, Scotland, from ‘The Dunes’ (2011) © Sophie Gerrard, all rights reserved.

 

“SSSIs are designated in the national interest, not just in the interest of Scotland. This is a decision which could have implications for protected areas of coast all over the UK.” – Johnny Hughes, Director of Conservation, the Scottish Wildlife Trust

 

Sophie Gerrard (Scottish, b.1978) is an award winning documentary photographer specializing in environmental and contemporary social issues. Currently based in the UK, Gerrard’s work has been published by The Telegraph Saturday Magazine, Financial Times Weekend Magazine, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, The Independent on Sunday, Portfolio Magazine, Foto8, Uncertain States, Yvi Magazine, Greenpeace International, Scotland on Sunday and Geographical Magazine. Gerrard’s work has been commissioned by national galleries and exhibited in the UK and internationally, and is now held in a number of private and national permanent collections. Sophie currently lives and works in London and Edinburgh and is represented by The Photographers’ Gallery in London.  www.sophiegerrard.com

More images from Sophie Gerrard’s project can be seen on Photomonitor. These images appeared, along with an article by Peter Popham, in The Independent in July 2012.

Diane Smyth is the deputy editor of the British Journal of Photography, and has also written on photography for Aperture, Creative Review, PDN, The Philosophy of Photography, The Guardian online, The Sunday Times online and The Sunday Herald. http://www.bjp-online.com/

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