Three butterflies found in the garden and down by the wood recently. Painted Lady, Tortoiseshell and Comma.
This blog is my occasional ramblings on here, there and about, with and very occasionally without a camera. Photography, art, landscape (principally Scottish), heritage and wildlife are the things that interest me the most, so thats what I'll be writing about and of course showing pictures of. They say that a photograph is worth a thousand words, well I'm not so sure about that but if it is then great as it will save me a heap of typing, all power to the image.
Three butterflies found in the garden and down by the wood recently. Painted Lady, Tortoiseshell and Comma.
I recently came across an old Christmas card that I sent out in 2002. It was my first encounter with folds (I kept calling them fanks for some time, until I learnt otherwise) associated with shieling grounds, in one of my favourite locations, Glen Taitneach. Though I knew nothing of their purpose, I assumed for sheep, even then could detect a certain resonance. I thought them curious and interesting. I definitely never realised how they would become an area of study and creation many years later.
I did have an interest in archaeology prior to this image, after I moved back to Perthshire from Skye. I sought out stone circles, that I recall making a good set of images from, also a good 'treasure hunt' in the countryside.
That circular enclosed space, how curious. So, Christmas card 2002 and 'the silence falls' 2018. Click on the images and 'view in new tab' to get a slightly larger view.
As part of my interest (archaeological, visually and as conceptual metaphor) in upland folds associated with shieling grounds you can discover so much more by looking around the shieling area and approach. There is the landscape of course in which they sit that can be stunning and bleak. Often you can reason their placement but their remoteness reminds of a lifestyle that required long journeys (transhumance) to graze their cattle, something that fascinates me. Often the folds are associated with a shieling hut or two, as I found in Glen Taitneach, occasionally they sit remote, alone and now silent.
I recently went to visit a lone fold (56.776657 -3.299893) that I had't visited for several years up beyond Auchentaple Loch, Glen Isla and near the Cateran Trail that runs close by. What I found was that the heather that covered it previously had at some point had been burnt off, revealing the fold that lies in a dip (unusual) much clearer. A nice surprise and a nicely preserved fold that has a clearly defined narrow entrance. I looked around for any other features but nothing positive nearby, that is until I set off back home and came upon a linear feature (pictured bottom left one and two), obviously part of an enclosure or boundary wall. I followed this and as clear as day I came across a rather nice and sizeable shieling hut (pictured) (56.775806 -3.300502), a few yards away there is yet another but heather covered and unusually long. (I haven't shown the latter as the image is just too vague). So anyway a good and interesting day, plus pictures I can use for my Folds project.
The following week I made another trip, this time with a friend also interested in our heritage, he's a keen dig volunteer and new found skill as an historic researcher, so knows what he's looking at. It was an even more spectacular day of finds and interest.
Going onto the fold and shieling huts of the previous week we also found a few yards from the fold a really well defined (less so on the image to the left but definitely when on the beside it) and sizeable hut circle (56.776356 -3.300308), a nice start to the day. I should add at this point that none of these features mentioned in this entry have been ever recorded or on any maps. Apart from the chapel and farmstead and these are themselves poorly recorded.
We then headed to Auchentaple farmstead (link to the only record) hidden in part of a commercial woodland and near the loch that is contemporary to the farm, the woodland is currently being cleared. The farmstead is interesting and has several unusual features, like the walls that are just a mass of piled stones that are more complex than the linear drawing on an OS map indicates. There was also the feature (pictured), that had a some metal-work attached at some point as there was a single hole with lead fixing on each side. What is it ?? Its not a well we don't think as there are plenty of other water sources nearby.
On now to the chapel (Auchenchapel is 'Field of the Chapel) that is very interesting but what is particularly fascinating and not mentioned on any (?) sources is that at the south end of the knoll upon which the chapel sits is a natural rock outcrop and at the base of the rock outcrop runs a very free flowing spring, marked on the maps as a well but its relationship to the chapel is too coincidental, a holy well (?). Its not regarded as a holy well but perhaps at some point it was. Certainly to the builders of the chapel it was significant. Its interesting that the Golan Well up the hill is regarded on a couple of websites as a holy well, though no sources are mentioned to this being the historic case. And why not the chapel site that would make more sense.On the rock outcrop there is a small 'cup mark' (??) (pictured right), its about the size of 50p coin. Also worth mentioning is that the landowner has put a small fence around the well, perhaps to keep the cattle away and capped another adjacent part of the well.
Up the hill from the Chapel we came across a quarried area that was intriguing and further on a small circular feature (pictured) with a boulder collapsed into it (56.771889 -3.311640), too small for a habitable (?) hut circle but a feature non the less and this was near a linear wall/boundary (56.771955 -3.311381) (pictured bottom right). The linear feature can just be seen on some of the aerial pictures (Apple Maps) A little distance away there is a sizeable very noticeable pile of stones, field clearance (??).
To our final destination; a feature I had come across some time ago while walking over the area and of course its not recorded, (56.774049 -3.315528) Its a dwelling (?) with a rectangular enclosure, very interesting. A good image of it can be found Here along with another fank that is nearby.
This whole area is covered in archaeological features that are worth noting and preserving. Other features include a possible hut circle (56.771025 -3.313551) that might be the feature mentioned by Margaret Stuart (link), plus other linear/wall features. If these aren't recorded then they might be destroyed by the likes of the scrape (pictured), lost then to all.
Yes shielings and hut circles and field systems are found all over Scotland but that doesn't make them less important. Anyone interested in shielings and folds etc will soon find how little they have been studied and I think how under appreciated they are, marking as they do a sizeable population whose culture is now gone. I'll endeavour to have these features properly recorded and hopefully protected. For some bizarre reason the archaeology in Angus is covered by Aberdeen-shire council.
The grid references are from my Viewranger app on my tablet, the OS grid reference I then convert to be readable on Bing maps were I can save them and also double check position. The links (allow a few moments for the pinpoint marker to render) are to Bing maps that are by far the best for aerial imagery and OS maps but I've found Apples Map app (if you have an Apple computer you will have it installed) has crisper/clearer and closer view, plus the most recent aerial imagery, saving specific locations however is tortious.
I've uploaded a couple of new 360° zoomable panoramas of Kinclaven Bluebell Wood near Murthly in Perth and Kinross. The wood is undergoing a change no thanks to the Scottish Woodland Trust who seem incapable of leaving alone or making minimal organic changes but are managing to kill what lovely atmosphere the wood had. Re directed paths with old routes unsubtly blocked by tree trunks, incapsulated posters everywhere, a large carpark etc.
The links are HERE and HERE or click the image. Note; they can take a little time to render, especially in full screen mode.
A near complete list of zoomable Panoramas can be found HERE.
Anyway; on occasion you can still find a silence and sense the woods inner breath and beauty.
These are just two from an ongoing body of work under the banner of Folds & Porticos. Contrasting the Scottish subsistence farmers circa 1700 with the rich and colourful visions of those who embarked on the Grand Tour to Italy. The work is currently a wall piece but I'm considering it also in book form.
Photographed at Lycondlitch to the North East of Blair Atholl, now in ruin the shepherds cottage and out buildings also has this amazing lone gnarled Wild Cherry tree.
This interpretation is close to how I envisage it, frankly its just so easy to make something moody when the weather is dull. I could see it being the cover of some mystery paperback, possible with the addition of a lone crow in the sky.
I covered a conference in Perth Concert Hall this week. Always a little challenging, especially when you have speakers that are very animated and your working with a slow shutter speed to capture some of the ambient light in the venue. The mixed lighting also takes a bit to balance, especially to get good skin tones. Still, I got a reasonable selection of images that the client should be happy with. I was also shooting video that I'll add as an update (possibly) when done and if ever uploaded.
I was just checking a few things on the Isle of Rum website that I designed many years ago, that still looks ok and works fine. I discovered to my surprise that my old photography website in part is still up and running and it looks actually rather nice if I might say so myself. Ok, its not responsive though it should look ok on an ipad as it has quite a narrow width. Anyway there's a good selection of images from times not that long gone by, some rather nice images:) It can be found HERE. enjoy.
Note; there might be a few broken links that I'll get around to sorting possibly.
I've just updated my Folds gallery with some fresh images, that are more uniform in tonality which is probably what I will go with for final printed images. Ive many more that I could add.
This project which has taken me on an interesting journey, illuminating in many ways, also mystifying in that so much is unknown and that I still have much to discover and intriguing in their position within the social structures of their time in active use. I'm fascinated by these so rudimentary structures, that took sweat and blood to construct, and also how they functioned, to which I have my own theories. I'm rather amazed and disappointed in almost equal measure on how they are largely dismissed and under studied. I've easily discovered many that have not been recorded in any way. Of course they are not uncommon but they are very much part of our heritage and emblematic of a way of life now gone but certainly not forgotten by me.
The Folds or rather Folds & Porticos has for me become a much larger and broader ongoing project, of which Beanie ~ Venice is also a part. I'm hoping to extend the project later this year, so further visits to shieling grounds and targeting lone folds. Watch this space as they say.
The new Folds Gallery can be found HERE or click on the image.
I've updated the selection in the Orchards of the Carse of Gowrie gallery. There is now a more consistant tonality that I'm happy with and how I originally percieved the work. Slow progress is being made to edit down to what is a sizeable body of work. I'm also looking into finding a publisher that would be interested.
The weekend was spent showing our (with Chris Partridge) work at the BookMarket event in the Stills Gallery, Edinburgh. It was really interesting and worthwhile if somewhat tiring, complete collapse when finally home on Sunday evening.
There was some incredibly interesting and creative work being shown, with lots of ideas to follow through. The Fruitmarket was the main venue and they had more graphical form and text based work, as opposed to Stills photo image based.
One of the books at the Fruitmarket Gallery that has stuck in my mind, with several just below the surface, was called 'Do Not Touch', a curious book of uninspiring grey images (pavement or concrete wall ??) repeated with the words 'Do Not Touch' across. I honestly couldn't figure what it was about, given the short time looking at it but somehow it has lodged itself in my mind, many other books of interest there also. At Stills, again some amazing work, lots of self published books. Two stands that I'll mention and link are; Gordian & Projects and Pupilsphere. Both young publishing enterprises that are forging a way forward, with photography and texts in a cost effective book form. Nicely printed, colour and monochrome, also very nicely presented. Could this be the route to see some excellent photography and creative ideas when its not being given the exposure in galleries, or for that matter in publications ? A quick mention also to Jessie Churchill, I purchased her Croi book, nice observational photography.
Talking of publications, the 'Scottish Society for the History of Photography' had a table with their publication and despite the name contained much in the way of interesting contemporary photography, though rather tediously they tended to be the same old bloody names. A good worthwhile publication so don't wish to knock it too much but after Portfolio magazine of old with its clique of artists I hope Sshop doesn't go the same way.
I did sell a few books and it was good chatting to people, definitely worthwhile. However I came away with a few publications purchased myself :o
Just two of the books I'll be showing at the Artists BookMarket in Edinburgh on the 17th & 18th of February. We will be at Stills Gallery on Coburn Street, just around the corner from the Fruitmarket Gallery, the other venue.
I've just found this really interesting YouTube video of Stephen Shore talking about his work at the Museum of Modern Art (New York). Where he has a retrospective exhibition.
Shore very much speaks my language but in a rather more articulate way it has to be said:), especially here when discussing his particular way of looking at, and of seeing (for him) the Montana landscape. For me a Scottish moorland landscape. A landscape largely devoid of elements to help frame or formalise. Though in a way here he is talking about subtle pictorial perspective.
I love his phrase 'resonance of constant attention' and 'seeing with constant attention'.
My Folds images are possibly the closest I've come to this awareness, their subtlety requires for me and I hope the viewer a visual awareness and resonance.
There are several other videos relating to this exhibition that are also worth viewing.
I'll be showing some of my 'artist books' with fellow artist Chris Partridge, who will also be showing her excellent and inventive books at the Fruitmarket Gallery, who are working in conjunction with Stills Gallery. Not sure which venue we will be at but going by previous years it will be really interesting regardless. (Update: We will be at Stills both days)
Here is their blurb:
'Sat 17 and Sun 18th. 2018, 11am–6pm
Artists’ BookMarket is The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh’s celebration of artists’ book culture. This year we are partnering with our neighbour Stills Centre for Photography, in an expansion of our annual event.
Each year, we attract more than two thousand collectors and enthusiasts to make this date with artists’ books and artist-led publishing. This year we will have over 50 stalls with work for sale. The accompanying events ensure continuous activity in the spaces and this year events and workshops will be programmed to encourage visitors to move between our two sites over a busy weekend.'
This is a page spread from one of the books I'm currently working on; titled 'Orchards - acts of creation'. Using texts from Boswell and Johnson it focusses on perceptions of culture in the 18th century. Complimented with a few of my Carse of Gowrie Orchards project images.