This work is from a series I made called Comharradh – an audio-visual project which is the result of a sustained engagement with the peat bogs and moorlands of the Isle of Lewis. At heart, it is an ode to the moor; to its component parts, peat, water, sea, and sky; to the wide open spaces that create the sense of what is commonly known as ‘landscape’; and to the local language and poetry which attempt to represent it.
Although the pure poetry of the moor would be a worthy documentary subject in itself, my desire to represent the moor was also driven by a political imperative. Through the eyes of big business, the peat lands of Lewis are seen as desolate and unworthy of preservation. This idea of desolation has legitimised calls for mass development from energy companies who are trying to build upon and dig up the moor in order to construct wind turbines. Building upon peat deprives it of the water that sustains it, releasing tonnes of the carbon stored in its structure.
Rich cultural forms are created through the centuries long relationship between people and place. If the peat disappears, carbon, poetry, culture, and language will be lost. Comharradh plays a role in remediating that loss by asking the viewer to become acquainted with the land; to perform acts of place- and self-making, mental-mapping, poetry and song. Traditional photographic prints did not do justice to the ineffability of the land and so I chose to use the waterways of the island – the very body of the moor – as the camera itself in order to create abstract prints. These prints are supplemented with the sounds of the moor and its people; official documents concerning land development; videos of the flora; and (in the Installation) raw peat for the viewer to inspect.
The audio-video aspect of this work is available on Linda’s website – here
Selected images from Linda’s Comharradh series are shown below
ABOUT LYNDA LAIRD
Lynda is a photographic artist working on long term bodies of work; primarily focusing on landscape and the idea that memory is stored in place; that there are trace’s and an imprint of history stored in the buildings, landscapes and spaces where specific events have occurred.
These traces, she believes can be sensed through an intuition and feeling of a particular environment; it’s for this reason she is interested in exploring ways of showing what is invisible to the naked eye. As well as photography, she works with video, sound and archive; collecting objects and testimony from these spaces as well as employing camera-less techniques in an attempt to find a way to collaborate with the subject. She likes to work with the materiality of specific landscapes, bringing a trace of its history and memory into the work.She is interested in how bringing these elements together can be a trigger for stimulating memory and creating a sense of place.
Unless otherwise stated, all words and images in this article are © Lynda Laird