At the beginning of May I found myself aboard a small vessel heading to the Isle of May. I’ve been going to Fife for photography related stuff for a few years now, and always found myself staring out to the island with intrigue, with its spooky deserted buildings silhouetted against the sun sets every night, I always wondered what went on there. My intrigue was heightened greatly after hearing from a Fife local that some nights they have “burn nights”, which being Scotland I assumed she meant Robert Burns night, but no “burn nights, where they just burn things!”. Right I thought I must go! The island, only one mile long and without any signs of human life, started coming into focus, it felt rather dreamlike, like I had been here before, like I knew it already, it was a strange sensation. After a bumpy landing we made it in the tiny harbour where I could see silhouettes of the people awaiting our arrival. I was greeted from the boat and shown around by Dave island warden.
I spent a week on the island just getting used to life in this environment, which involved amongst others things; lots of being outdoors all day (bliss), watching birds (though I never really knew what I was looking at), sea air, crashing waves, early mornings, passing ships, submarines, boat arrivals, some rain, binoculars, puffin counts, puffins burrows, puffin watching, bird ringing, bird talk (again didn’t really know what was going on here), drift wood, burning drift wood (though this took place in the fireplace as apparently the ‘burns nights’ do not exist), shower bans, water shortages, listening to Jeremy’s jokes and singing, Will-I-am impersonations, Whiskey nights and good banter. Oh yer and some photography, forgot about that. I find it hard to say exactly what I’m doing photography wise on the island, it’s not straight documentary, though it’s also not art photography, maybe somewhere in the middle, maybe not. I’m just interested in spending time on the island and documenting island life in someway.
The day I left the island a deep sense of sadness came over me, the island is its own world, you really have no connection to the outside one and that means you leave all your normal life stuff on the mainland. The isle is not just isolated physically but mentally too, it cleared out the worries that were in my head and I felt some peace. The island has the great ability to allow you to experience isolation, but then also you have amazingly friendly and welcoming people around you that you bump into throughout the day, stop for a chat, and share a whiskey with in the evening. I miss the island and it’s frame of mind, and I’m looking forward to my next visit in a few weeks.
By Celine Marchbank Full blog post can be read here: http://celinemarchbank.wordpress.com/