Having discussed with my tutor researching the history of the visual representation of Skye, and struggling to find the words for my Final Project Proposal, I decided to take a trip to Portree, the capital of the Island, to see what books and old photographs I might be able to find. I had been given a copy of The Charm of Skye by Seton Gordon and reminded myself of both the photographic and watercolour images in my 1929 First Edition:
Retail opportunities are limited in Skye, which is part of its attraction for me, however I made my way to a very good book shop I had visited before. After spending time flipping through numerous tourist editions (which I may come back to) I found a book Last Ferry to Skye by Christopher Uncles. The book provides a photographic history of the island dating back to the 1880s and ending with the building of the Skye Bridge and its opening in 1995.
The author’s Introduction suggested to me that he had similar feelings and sensitivities about the Island to me:
“Those who know it are generally agreed that of all the islands which comprise the Inner Hebrides, Skye is something apart, something special. A large, tattered land mass stretching for some fifty miles, deeply indented by long sea lochs, no part of Skye is more than five miles from the sea. The Cuillins, the finest group of mountains in Britain, dominate the scene, catching the eye from every direction. Skye is a land where folklore, legend and fact are inextricably interwoven. Over the years it has been the destination for geologists, mountaineers and rock climbers, the haunt of artists, photographers, travellers and tourists. Many have felt compelled to record their experiences, and major and minor classics abound, with every imaginable aspect of island life having received the treatment.” (Uncles 1995:3).
As I left the shop I asked the assistant whether he knew of any other bookshops on Skye that I might find helpful in my search. To my surprise he said yes and sent me off towards Dunvegan in search of a Rare Book shop. As we snaked our way over moorland we considered it inconceivable that we would find any shop let alone a Rare Book shop! We travelled for a number of miles on the basis of scant instructions but as we started to think we had missed the turn, taken the wrong road and been misguided in starting out on this jaunt in the first place, we found ourselves on the outskirts of Skeabost Bridge. It was then I exclaimed that I could see a sign indicating the Rare Book Shop. After traipsing through a garden and towards a beautiful loch we found the shop – a cabin with the most amazing view, and as it turned out a staggering collection of books not just about Skye. The shop was Gilleasbuig Ferguson, Highland, Gaelic and Rare Books.
After a long chat with the owner, a cup of tea, holding a Darwin 1872 The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals First Edition and looking at a large number of potential books for my collection I settled on these:
On rainy days on the Island I shall enjoy researching the history of the visual representation of Skye!
GORDON, S. 1929. The Charm of Skye: The Winged Isle. London: Cassell & Company Ltd.
UNCLES, C. 1995. Last Ferry to Skye. Catrine: Stenlake Publishing.
I always knew that books paint the best pictures but I love the photos of them! It sounds a wonderful project – totally absorbing. Have followed the blog with much interest, many smiles and the odd quizzical head on one side moment!
Thanks for your comment Katherine. I agree about photographs of books. You would have loved the Rare Book Shop and in such a beautiful place.