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Lewis Elegies - Mhairi Law & Calum Angus MacKay
2 October 2019 until 30 October 2019
Part of Glasgow Mod 2019 – Scotland’s premier Gaelic language festival
Lewis Elegies celebrates the photographs of two diverse artists from the Isle of Lewis, the largest island of the Western Isles in Northern Scotland. The works on show reflect the rich contribution that artists and photographers from the far north of Scotland have made to contemporary photography, and this exhibition showcases work by artists whose work is rooted in the remote landscape of their homeland.
Mhairi Law’s ‘The Darkest Dawn’ commemorates the centenary of the Iolaire disaster. On New Years morning 1919, over 200 men returning from WW1 were drowned as their ship, HMY Iolaire, struck the rocks metres from their destination of Stornoway Harbour. This series depicts the treacherous rocks, The Beasts of Holm, that claimed the Iolaire. The seriesaims to capture this sense of blackness felt on one of the darkest nights in Lewis’s history. The monument serves as a constant, a memory still felt. Perhaps the most harrowing moment of this memory comes with the arrival of the dawn. Light slowly breaks over the Beasts of Holm, onto a very different island.
Calum Angus MacKay combines a crofting life in the Western Isles with a career in Gaelic broadcasting and his activities as a photographer. Using wild and domesticated animals of the area as subject matter, his photographs make reference to local history and folklore without being nostalgic or sentimental. The richly atmospheric photographs from the series ‘By Fin, by Wing, by Hoof’ have a beauty which contrasts with the stark environment of their origin.
This exhibition as part of Glasgow Mod 2019 is one of a series marking Street Level’s 30th anniversary (September 2019 – September 2020), and draws together works from the past and make connections with contemporary photography from Scotland.