Collaborative artists' book. Photo etchings printed onto 180gsm watercolour paper, folded into a concertina and pitched into a found cover from a discarded book of hymns; Sailm is gaelic for 'hymn'. Alexe: I was given a book and as I held it and touched the embossed lettering reading ‘Sailm’ in a slight gold tinge held against the dense black. It was authoritarian and austere though well worn, almost dishevelled. How many hands had touched it and how many had studied this Gaelic psalm book? These feelings and thoughts are part of my landscape.
It was an afternoon in August on the Isle of Harris. It was raining with a slight grey fog covering the landscape in a damp blanket. I was out with a fishing rod and attached to the end of the line was a pair of crow wings. I needed to investigate some 7th century Pictish beehive dwellings hidden in the hills of North Harris. The rain increased in ferocity, lashing down as I climbed the steep hills, the land barren, archaic, with old stories from childhood resonating inside my skull.
Near to the beehive structures the wings were ‘cast’, fleeting against the stability of this never changing landscape. I caught the images, snapping at the heels of flight. I couldn’t see what I was shooting. I was playing a numbers game taking them fast, as many as I could, hoping for the best.
Back in the print studio I laid the images out and as I reorganised them it seemed appropriate for these to become a series, a narrative. I decided to translate these as photo-etching prints and the process slows you down making you look and look again. There is something physical about the nature of this with the photograph being exposed onto a metal plate, developed and then ink pressed into it, wiped, before being pressed into paper. The surface quality of the image becomes embossed into the paper, the blackness of the ink, the paper and its timeless quality all playing an important role.
I am drawn to stories, to myths, and how they lodge in the back of the mind holding their profound effect. I remember as a child being told this legend about a mountain [ Ronival ] on Harris. “If, on mid-summer morn at sunrise you walk anti clockwise three times around the ancient stone enclosure on the top of Ronival the fairies will take you for a year.” As a child, this story had a deep effect, it is this effect that I try to explore through my work.