Plate 43: Afternoon, Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, 2004
Each standing stone in the Ring of Brodgar has a different character but to my knowledge none are officially (or unofficially) named. This stone almost looks like it is covered in skin. I saw the stones this day as sentinels, or soldiers on parade. I wanted to get as close as I could focus to the almost “human” like texture of the stone. Using a wide-angle lens I was able to get six other stones to stand at attention. The setting sun gently caressed this stone directly, while putting the others in soft shadow.
Plate 44: Graveyard, St. Mary’s Church, Rousay, Orkney, 2007
Rousay has so many Neolithic tombs and graves that it has been called the “Egypt of the North”. However, I was far more interested in the ruins to be found on the Westness Walk. This one-mile walk spans settlements from the first Stone Age settlers, the Pictish Iron Age, the Viking invaders, the period of the Earls and the troubled crafting times. The trail ends St. Mary’s Church. Here I found a small graveyard at the roofless church. The top of this granite tombstone echoed the iron arrowheads on top of the cast iron fence, both wearing away, reminding me that all things made by man are temporary.
Plate 45: Drying Fish, Corrigall Farm Museum, Harray, Orkney, 2007
At the Corrigal Farm Museum, Neal Leask tries to maintain the buildings as if the occupants just stepped out for a moment. Historically, drying and salting fish were a mainstay of Orcadian life. What more natural way to dry fish the hanging them from the ceiling near the constantly burning peat fire? When paired with the image on the next page (Plate 46) it set up a nice visual pattern with the hanging tapestry needles.
Plate 46: Tapestry, Carol Dunbar Studio, Buckquoy, Harray, Orkney, 2006
This tapestry, by Carol Dunbar, was a work in progress when I photographed it. Orkney has a long and well-known reputation for the woven arts using locally raised sheep. The Orkney Arts Council has made it possible for artists like Carol to remain on Orkney by using advertising, government grants and business training available. By bringing art tourism to the Orkneys artists are able to raise their families while producing their work as part of the community they grew up in. By staunching the flow of youth from the islands the Orkneys are growing as vibrant communities.
The bobbins hanging down in the front of the tapestry reminded me of musical notes. In the upper part of the print you can see through the warp threads to the cartoon of the design yet to be completed. Standing in front of the vertical loom I thought I could hear the plaintive notes of an old Orcadian tune.
Plate 47: Bus Stop, Finstown, Orkney, 2007
On any project that lasts as long as Odin Stone, there are ups and downs, twists and turns. In my travels I saw these modern Plexiglas bus stops all over Orkney. In fact, on many a rainy day I had photographed within their confines looking out over the landscape or trying to capture the water running down the windows. On this particular morning I was heading into Kirkwall to catch a very early ferry out to one of the northern islands. I left Ramsquoy before sunrise, but as I was driving through Finstown, the sun broke over the horizon. As I passed this bus stop the light seemed to explode through its walls. I stopped, parked in the bus stop, and grabbed my camera with a very wide-angle lens. I had only a few minutes to work. I think I got three or four sheets of film exposed before the sun moved from behind schedule board that was blocking it. On an earlier trip to Orkney I had made an image of the sun setting behind a standing stone in Stenness and I felt this bus stop was a modern equivalent of a 5000 year old standing stone. Who knows what archeologists will make of the plastic roadside structures 5000 years from now. They may be as big a mystery in the future as the standing stones are to us.