In her final year project at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen-based artist Joan Macleod has created a photographic exploration of the Wester Ross coastal landscape, through the prism of fish farming.
Returning to her childhood village of Lochcarron, Joan captured impressions of the silence and solitude of the landscape where fish farming takes place. Flowing through ten panels, the exhibit displays distant farm locations and the shore margins. It submerges itself into the details of the shallows, and then descends beneath the water to capture the beauty below.
Joan said: “Inspiration for my project came from consideration of divergent versions of modern working life – urban and rural, and how I might represent salmon farming as one example of the latter. I wanted to understand the industry and the environment, to create a body of work which would act as a window into the landscape in which the farms inhabit and also reveal the small details which colour the shores and mark the transition from land to sea. The title, Surface Tension, emerged as a metaphor for contradictions evidenced as I worked.
“I enjoyed the much deeper exploration of photography theory and technique which the project allowed, and the chance to re-explore a familiar place through different eyes. It was nostalgic experience to reconnect with some of my childhood memories: stumbling over seaweed-covered rocks to find the jewel-like pebbles that light the shore and discovering the sparkle of small shells or tiny flashes of the life that inhabits tidal rock pools.”
Joan took a career break to fully commit to a return to full-time education in pursuit of her long-held passion for photography, taking the articulation route from NESCOL to the BA Commercial Photography at RGU.
“The team spirit of my class mates, the opportunity to learn from others’ work and to engage with different photographic techniques have been real highlights of my time at university. It’s been a great experience to take the time out and make detailed photographic studies in areas which inspire me.”
“In the short term, I will be preparing for my next exhibition then returning to work part time,” said Joan. “I hope to continue to exhibit and sell my work over the next year then return to RGU to complete a master’s degree, after which I will practice photography full time.”