“In our earliest years we know a patch of ground in a detail we will never know anywhere again – site of discovery and putting names to things – people and places – working with difference and similitude – favourite places, places to avoid – neighbours and their habits, gestures and stories – textures, smells – also of play, imagination, experiment – finding the best location for doing things – creating worlds under our own control, fantasy landscapes.”
(Professor Mike Pearson)
“Photographers and artists have always found inspiration in their immediate location. There is a concept within Welsh culture called Y Filltir Sgwar (The Square Mile), described above by Professor Mike Pearson. It is the intimate connection between people and their childhood ‘home’ surroundings.
Make a series of 6–12 photographs in response to this concept. Use this as an opportunity to take a fresh and experimental look at your surroundings. You may wish to re-trace places you know very well, examining how they might have changed; or, particularly if you’re in a new environment, you may wish to use photography to explore your new surroundings and meet some of the people around you.”
IaP Coursebook (p.15)
In 1983, between my first and second years at Glasgow University, I spent the summer back home in Kirkwall. Nothing much seemed to have changed; nor did it seem likely to change at any point in the foreseeable future. Glasgow, on the other hand, already seemed to be in a permanent state of flux. Almost the first thing I noticed when I returned in the autumn was that the derelict facade of the Grosvenor Cinema on Byres Road had been pulled down and rebuilt.
A simple opposition was established: Orkney- rural, eternal and unchanging, a little bit dull; the city – mercurial, fluid, exciting. My idea of a romantic landscape leant more towards a neon sign reflected in a puddle than some blasted heath or a Turner-esque storm at sea. If anyone asked me whether I missed Orkney, I would answer that it was still there, to be visited any time I wanted.