On my journey north I was trying to understand what it was they didn’t seem to understand about my work. The project, to me, is about laying the ghosts to rest from my police work and embarking on a personal journey of discovery, whilst working in this beautiful landscape of north-west Scotland. I want, through my images, to evoke for others my personal experience of The Road to Elgol and in particular the foreboding and formidable Black Cuillin. Why is it that I have to return so often to this road I know so well? Why did Don McCullin seek solace in the Somerset Levels?
So, on my first day in Skye I put the camera down. Summer is not my favourite season on the Road to Elgol. I much prefer the de-saturated and monochrome vistas of winter. The sun was quite high even at 5am and the light was moving rapidly from being warm and delicate to becoming flat and bright.
I reflected on the fact that others had described my images thus far as “thrilleresque”, “Hitchcock-esque” and that they give a sense of impending horror. I was pleased in a way by these comments as it led me to think that these people understood what I was trying to achieve.
I was sat at the head of Loch Slapin half way between Broadford and Elgol and realised that I was looking at a point where the foreboding and rugged Black Cuillin met the warm Red Cuillin looking resplendent in the summer sun. Their red scree tops (no less formidable or dangerous than the Black Cuillin for climbers) seemed welcoming.
I felt as if the Red Cuillin was embracing and enveloping me. It was interesting for me to think back and consider how many times I had actually photographed the Red Cuillin. I had always been drawn to the Black Hills and rarely considered a shot of the beautiful Red tops. There is a sense of serenity in the Red Hills that I decided to capture more of over the following few days.
As I started to work with the Red Hills I began to see the Road in a rather different way. For me the Black Hills will always dominate but I have gained a different perspective that balances, to a certain extent, the overwhelmingly dark sense of the Road (for me at least) that hitherto I have recorded.
I had a timely 1-2-1 with my tutor a few days into my trip and I mentioned to her about my thoughts. She suggested to me that although I had concurred with her view that one of the reasons for my work was to seek out an antidote to the experiences in photographing crime scenes, that in reality she saw nothing of an antidote in my black and white work – moreover it gave her a sense of impending horror. She said my current work was very “dark”.
So maybe this is the start of my journey (having spent considerable time working with the Black Cuillin) where through photographing the Red Hills I can seek some solace and transformation through my image making. I am thinking further about how I might present my images from this recent trip – perhaps I leave the Black Cuillin in monochrome and try a de-saturated approach or even colour popping to create my experience of the Red Hills? Images will follow as I seek to recreate my experiences in my processing . . .