Moving On

So looking back, when I disappeared from the previous incarnation of the website, it was 2009. The recession had only just hit, the Conservatives had not yet wrested political control from an abysmally weak coalition (in fact Labour were still floundering in government), unemployment was nothing like as high and Star Trek had just been re-booted.

And of course there were many other more relevant/important differences (no Justin Beiber… wow just imagine what a deprived world it must have been…), but in KPP terms it was a quiet time. A lull after several exhibitions. After several years managing an unsigned band (Blue Origin- released their debut album on an independent last year to rave reviews across the music press, still going strong), I finally got back to doing the work that made me happiest. You might say I was ‘lost in an urban wilderness’, but that would be self-indulgent and the stench of whimsy would be too great even for me. To be straight, I struggled with what I wanted to photograph, lost interest in the medium- I had the pictorial equivalent of writers block. I’m not sure what re-confirmed the importance of photography to me. However, I continued photographing for the Reverie work and started several other documentary-based projects; alongside working for a company shooting packshots for clients such as TK Maxx, New Look, Matalan, George, and many others. This packshot work allowed me plenty of opportunity to travel the length of the country and get some inspiration for other potential projects (in addition to funding them).

Then in 2012, between freelance contracts, another opportunity presented itself- one that appealed to the environmentalist, the photographer and the traveller in me. The job was on a tiny Scottish island, just off the west coast, in the stretch of the Atlantic known as ‘The Minch’. The island was home to a single family, a clutch of isolated holiday lets, a RYA Sailing School and a café/Post Office and it was our job (myself and my partner) to help to run these myriad small businesses and look after the island.

Needless to say, the opportunities for photography were fantastic. I engaged myself in a project, which looked at the running of the island, it’s idiosyncrasies and the people who make it work. I was interested in capturing how people live on the land, work it, use it and re-use it and ultimately respect it. How they live in isolated countryside communities in a modern age, without any of the romanticism that implies. There was a melding of the old and the new there- highly environmentally concerned, politically aware individuals, living with all the trappings of the modern world but in 100 year old crofters cottages, relying on the weather, the tides; carving out a niche for themselves. There are layers of history condensed and still visible on the landscape, layers which should have long since gone and faded, or been salvaged; reclaimed to exhibit and preserve in museums. But on tiny islands such as this everything seems so much closer- the history merges with the present. The island itself becomes the artifact, and the museum- a palimpsest of its own history.

Thankfully, this project being a surprisingly large undertaking, we are now back back for our second year. Watch this space for new work on Tanera Mhor.