This is a question an academic from the University of Gloucestershire posed in the context of my project The Shape of Water.  She offered that may be an Island is more about land than the water that surrounds and flows on it.  The direct answer to the question, of course, is an Island is a piece of land surrounded by water however, what of the Isle of Skye that is surrounded by water but has a bridge of ‘land’ linking it to mainland Scotland?  Does this diminish the feeling of isolation, vulnerability and fragility of the Island economically and socially?  The bridge has clearly made communications and travel into and out of mainland Scotland much easier but has the character of the Island changed as a result?  The increasing numbers of island visitors and tourists has been supported by the building of the bridge, although this might have been achieved through the opening up of the current tiny airport.  What of the many Spanish Islands served by large and frequent ferry services and international airport links?   So, it seems that perhaps the Island communities of the world are being eroded, developed or merely changed in the 21st century.

Regardless of these changes, it seems to me that my project The Shape of Water remains valid.  The Island is still surrounded by water that affects how people live their lives, the climate and its history.  Even from an aesthetic point of view, there is a great deal of water to photograph, given that at any time, such is the shape of the Island, you are only five minutes from the sea.  On the Island itself there are many thousands of burns, waterfalls and inland lochs.  Water is plentiful and rainfall is all too frequent.  All these considerations led me to conceive of the The Shape of Water.   My intent is to capture the constantly dynamic state of water, whether it be a fast-flowing burn, a waterfall in spate or the waves crashing on the beach.  Similarly, the shape of water is equally mesmerising when waters are calm and tranquil.  The waters in connecting with themselves and the land create shapes and forms that are unique at any moment in time and will be gone in an instant.  Furthermore, the secrets beneath and the light and landscape above make for ever-changing palettes and opportunities.  The camera with its ability to reduce space and freeze time is perfectly placed to record The Shape of Water.  

Given the on-going building work on the house, I have decided to focus on my photographic practice for the next three weeks.  I intend to spend more time in the landscape, seeking out the abstract details.  I plan to play with my camera, write in my journal, reflect on the first seven months of the PhD and develop my attentive and creative writing skills.  I will also experiment with Ryan’s (2019) strategy for opening non-conscious awareness as the gateway to essence.  The first approach is through activation of the non-conscious with its cue-dependent structures.  The non-conscious responds directly to emotional intensity that activates the ‘tags’ we lay down in the archives of the mind.  Music can be profoundly powerful in this respect so I will be experimenting by trying to open my awareness through that means.  His alternative strategy is to quieten the ceaseless processing of sensory experience – the chattering monkeys of our conscious engagement with the world as presented to us.  Techniques for ‘zoning out’ via reflective concentration on details within the frame and other quasi-meditative skills can be very useful.  For a start, I will use music to relax my mood, encourage the activation of my sub-conscious mind in deep engagement with the shape of water.

What do people say about plans – they rarely survive first contact with the enemy!  I will not lose sight of my academic research and writing plans over the next weeks but I will take this opportunity to focus in a concentrated way on making work and reflecting on my practice.

Alison Price

Alison Price

My name is Alison Price and for the past ten years I have travelled the world photographing wildlife, including Alaska, Antarctica, Borneo, Botswana, the Canadian Arctic, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Skip to content