There are things in life, fears that must be overcome, taking the dragon by the horns, head on. This is what I did when renting a car and driving off, alone, to the Isle of Skye in the Highlands. I travelled across a good part of the country, driving alone in my BMW, on the left hand side of the road on these narrow winding roads during over 4 hours. In all 6 and a half hours of road to get there. Not one second of possible distraction. My hands firmly gripped to the wheel, with a tight jaw, riding in total silence across the fabulous landscape with only the feminine French voice of the GPS as interruption. That was no small victory or small bridge to cross.
Alone, finally. Sometimes I seek solitude, sometimes I fear it. It’s not always easy to love it – to be alone to manage everything. But that is the essence of the voyage, the real journeyia as much on the territory than it is within . To find yourself once again.
The way to the North through the mountains is literally breathtaking at every turn in the road. The mountains are not always very high but very abrupt. A beautiful sequence of images, mountains green and blue in the distance. The sun leaves scars of pale light on the slopes through the clouded sky. Mountain after mountain, treeless, with deep lochs at their feet. From Glen to Glen, I travel the road North.
Everything I see is through the frame of the windows of my car. There is very little space to park and to make any pictures. And to be quite honest, photography doesn’t do justice to the magnificence of the land, no matter how hard you try.
In 1977, I came to the Isle of Skye with a girl I’d just met. We came in late in the evening, the sun was setting on the ruins of Kyleakin Castle. We slept the night in her tent. We woke up in the morning to find the tent infested with midges, the Scottish plague, a very voracious species of black flies. We fled the island as soon as we could, liking our wounds.
I have always been attracted to islands, ever since I can remember, to their sense of isolation and of tight knitted communities. Today I walked up the Old Man of Storr path to the top of this rocky pinnacle. This is the must do walk if you come to Skye, with it’s peek at 720 m. A difficult climb for the inexperienced climber that I am. But…the hard walk is rewarded by spectacular views, and photographs, at the top, with strange rock formations. So, alone on the top of the mountain, there was the gift of the day, breathing in, looking, walking amongst the rocks, the rabbits and the bog cotton flowers.
Later in the day, a road trip across the Island from East to West. I came across an old cemetery with the Lovat monument, Gaelic crosses and the ruins of St-Mary’s church. Landscapes take me away in this site of Clan Macleod.
My intention is to create a dialogue between the proximity in the portraits I make and the great distance in the landscapes, trying to recreate a sense of place and space.
Back to Glasgow, I embark on the last week of the residency.
I remembered this beautiful record while on the road: