Back in the summer I approached the West Harris Trust about the possibility of hosting an exhibition of my Harris work at their community and arts centre Talla Na Mara and I was very pleased when they offered me the October to January slot.
It’s a brilliant building, enjoying the most incredible location perched above Niseaboist beach looking across to Clach Macleod and Taransay beyond. The centre sits amongst 6 new homes, also designed by Rural Design Architects, a firm whose work I really admire for their bold, contemporary approach to architecture in challenging and sensitive locations. Also on site are new Campervan pitches, artists studios, a great restaurant, the offices of the West Harris Trust and it is also a wedding venue!
Selecting the work for the exhibition was a really hard task. Originally the plan was to only exhibit my winter images, however it soon became apparent to me that there were some images from other seasons which I had to put in. So the exhibition became ‘Bless the Weather’ rather than Harris in the Winter. The original Bless the Weather is a John Martyn track from 1979 and, like most of his music, is absolutely beautiful. If you haven’t heard of him before then I urge you to listen to the album Solid Air. His music has been a constant companion to me on many photography trips, and the phrase ‘Bless the Weather’ just seemed to fit with my choice of images.
In order to pick images I first worked out the size of the space and scoped out the number which would be required. I knew I’d be having them printed by Lumejet as I love the quality and detail of their prints. Their L’Type prints are only available up to 12x12inch, however this size works out well in a 20x20inch frame allowing for a generous mount giving the images space to breathe.
The next choice was the type of framing I would use. I prefer a simple black frame. In fact, if they weren’t put together so cheaply, with poor acrylic glass, the IKEA Ribba frames would be my perfect choice. However, having used these before and talking to other photographers online I decided it was best to get bespoke frames made. I eventually went for black box frames from The Ready Made Picture Frame Company which worked out really well. The mounts were ordered from Cotswold Mounts, as always a great service. Ideally I would’ve had the images mounted and framed at a local framer, however it was just too expensive for me.
I decided to focus on the west coast of Harris and whittled down my image shortlist from 200 to 50. Then with much appreciated advice from my partner Jo and my brother and dad we got it down to the final 16. It was so difficult though. There’s a fine line between choosing images which I think would be commercially appealing and those which I think are the most interesting photographically and show off the light and landscape of Harris. I think I got the balance right, with a variety of conditions, places and landscapes showing the west coast in all seasons.
I mounted the prints at home and then took them to my brothers studio to frame them up. I was dreading the framing, I always manage to break glass or finish taping up the back without noticing a bit of dust behind the glass! Fortunately it went without a hitch. Almost anyway! I had just finished the last print, and was examining it in detail for any dust when I noticed a dust spot. Not just a speck of dust under the glass, but an actual sensor dust spot on the print. This was a major pain in the arse as it meant getting new prints done and then reframing! Luckily I had enough time and got it all sorted.
So that was all the framed prints done! Now I just had to mount up some wee 6x6inch prints (these were my top 50 shortlist) and another set of 12x12 mounted prints for display at Talla Na Mara. It was all finally coming together and all that remained to do was produce captions, an information board and load the whole lot into our wee car!
It just fit!
Hanging the show went without a hitch and I was so pleased how it looked in the space. It really is such a thrill to see a collection of your work exhibited and I have been very touched to receive such amazing feedback from people who have seen the show.
A massive thanks to The West Harris Trust for inviting me to exhibit, my partner Joanne for her constant help and support, my dad and my brother for helping me condense my shortlist and to everyone on twitter who helped with my questions and shared information about the exhibition.