astar: silver gelatin photographs

ASTAR (distance, journey) was a collaborative project in which Ishbel Murray, Mairi Morrison and I explored the concept of journeying through time, to retrace the history of five families who in 1843 left their homes in the Pairc district of Lewis and settled in the uninhabited Glen Tolsta. My connection with Glen Tolsta is through a great-aunt who married into the village in the early part of the 20th century, when travel between Bragar and Glen Tolsta was mainly on foot across the moorland centre of Lewis. I retraced this journey during the summer of 2011, walking barefoot as people did in the past.

While the Lewis moorland has inspired countless songs of nostalgia and love of place, it is also the context for enigmatic songs and stories of meetings with fairy lovers, water-horses, and with the infamous robber and murderer of Lewis tradition, Mac an t-Srònaich. The moor would seem to be at its most dangerous when travelling outwith one’s own familiar territory to other parts of the island, and I incorporated text from some of the more sinister songs and stories of the moorland into my work for Astar, which comprises a series of 8 silver gelatin photographs on handmade paper. The work was exhibited at An Lanntair, Stornoway, in February/March 2012.
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‘Gheall mo leannan dhòmhsa cìr’
‘Tha’m bainne mar dh’fhàg thu 'n-dè e’
‘Dh’fhàg sibh mis am mòintich fhiadhaich’
‘Gheibh sibh mo chnàmhan sa ghlacaich’
‘Tom an Loch Sgeirich’
‘An t-sùil a thug an leanabh orm’
‘’S tu bhi marbh ann an innis na sprèidhe’
‘Nighean nan gamhna’
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