alastair jackson photography blog

New Project
13th November 2017
What to do once the grey, wet Scottish Winter kicks in? A new photography project that's what. I've been racking my small brain for ideas, and this one is still only half formed. I've very tentatively named it 'Returned To Nature'
Lost in Nostalgia
02nd August 2017
Howard Devoto, lead man of the Buzzcocks declared in Feb 1977 that ‘punk is old hat’ and jumped ship. In 1978, his remaining band members sang about ’nostalgia for an age yet to come’ . This phrase was first coined by the Portugese poet, Fernando Pessoa, who scribbled it down in the early days of the 20th Century. In it, he describes a longing to escape to an absolute elsewhere, of a desire that can’t be defined – not feeling at home in the here and now.
In recent decades, nostalgia for the future has gradually lost its vagueness and become tied to a specific fixed idea. It has become a retro-futuristic emotion: those sensations of wistfulness, mixed with irony and amazement, offset by amusement which are induced by the likes of old science fiction films from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Retro-futurism has been current in pop culture since the early ‘80’s. The first decade of the new millennium saw a new boom in both retro-futurism (an ‘80’s synth pop revival) and retro-modernism. With the latter, the focus was not just on the severity of modernism, but on the movement’s ideas and political idealism, particularly the post WW2 resurgence of abstraction and minimalism in art and architecture.
Far more than anything in the art world however, it was the everyday visibility of the brutalist buildings of the ‘60’s and 70’s that provoked the backlash against modernism. By the early 2000’s though, you were starting to get photo-blogs with names like ‘I adore eyesores’, operated by roving ‘collectors’ documenting their favourite tower blocks, housing estates and shopping centres. There was a spate of books about motorways and service stations, most famously Martin Parr’s 1999 pictorial anthology, ‘Boring Postcards’, which became a cult success. Also, ‘Leadville’, Edward Platt’s ‘biography’ of the A40, Pieter Boogaart’s ‘A272 – An ode to a road’, and David Lawrence’s history of motorway service stations, ‘Always a Welcome’.
The onset of digital photography, mobile phone cameras and a massive increase in online photo-sharing has led to a push against progression, and a rise in the use of old technology and techniques in photography. Step forward the bearded hipster hurtling along Brighton seafront on his penny-farthing, with a retro-lumo camera dangling round his neck, taking saturated motion-blur images of ice cream gobbling day trippers. There are uncomfortable resemblances between retro-modernism and heritage culture. You have the venerated tradition that must be safeguarded from developers by custodians; you have the monuments to abandoned ideals ( Le Corbusier & Bauhaus inspired housing replacing mansions and castles). To an unsympathetic eye this could seem a lot like left wing fogeyism. In defence of this, some of the most interesting recent developments in photography parallel the most interesting developments in music. The use of new technology such as Instagram to share old film-style images, or the ability to produce digital negatives from film, to enable digital manipulation. But are these developments really pushing barriers and boundaries forward, or just mixing old and new?
I am guilty of this myself by refusing to shoot in colour, and although I use digital technology, I stack filters and print on rough rag paper to give the impression of film. I suppose we admire the pioneers of emerging technology, partly because of the spirit of the age permeates their work with a palpable momentousness. Partly also the Herculean effort of the original pioneers to make the images and the struggle against technical limitations seems heroic. So where to now??
Brian Griffin - Echo & The Bunnymen photographer
13th June 2017
I was always an admirer of the artwork on Echo & the Bunnymen's record sleeves as a kid, even though I had no idea about the designer or the photographer.

Last year, I took a notion that I would create a series of images on the imaginary premise that The Bunnymen had been conducting a photoshoot in Skye, and specifically, their 1981 single, a promise had loads of alternative covers taken there.

With that in mind, I set about tracking down the photographer responsible for the Bunnymen album and single covers. I was surprised and delighted to find that Brian Griffin had shot covers for Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Brian Eno, The Clash, Devo and on and on.............

Shows how little I know really! So, I contacted him about the project to ask if I could use his image of 'The Promise' as part of the proposed exhibition, and he agreed - no problem. I also asked him a few questions to go along with an exhibition statement, and I have finally got round to reproducing them here. Needless to say, I never got further with journalism than some home-grown fanzines, and I wouldn't say his answers are massively insightful either! Here they are anyway. The project remains inside my head.......

The Bunnymen’s music was seen by some at the time as ‘gloomy raincoat’ music, but I always thought that there was a euphoric build in their songs? Did you build that thought process into your images?
Not really. I just tried to make the images relevant and strong within the concept.

On the cover of the 7” of ‘A promise’, there appears to be a sense of movement - forward momentum of the seabirds rushing towards the light. I’m guessing that was intentional, but were you aware of the songs that they were working at the time in shaping your own creative processes?
It was not an easy photograph to get, never is with birds or animals. So the songs were the last thing on my mind.

The images are colour, but quite muted. How deliberate was that?
It was not deliberate.

The cover of the 12” is quite different in style and content, but it looks like movement was still on your mind. What were you trying to convey with this image?
It was not purposeful at all, we were just playing with letting off maritime flares.

Why South Wales as a location?
It was near Rockfield where they were recording.

Why were Korova so difficult about the album cover (and I’m guessing also the single sleeves?). Did they oppose your creative ideas?
They were happy with the creative idea but unhappy about the band being so small and in silhouette.

My concept for my installation is alternative covers for ‘A Promise’, if they had been taken on the Isle of Skye. I think there is something inherently ‘Bunnymen-ish’ about the place plus I grew up there! Have you ever shot there?
I have indeed worked on the Isle Of Skye.
The Postcard Collective #3 - An Online Gallery
29th May 2017
As promised in a previous blog, here is collage of the entries I have received to date. There may be a couple more still to come in, but I now have the vast majority. I am now going to recycle them as CD covers.
Cavan Campbell Scottish Soundscapes
12th May 2017
Cavan Campbell has put up a link to the CAIM collective's FB page on his blog -
The Postcard Collective #2
01st May 2017
Well, as promised here is my submission. It turned out to be a bit more of a statement than I originally meant it to be, but I was pleased with the organic process it took.I have had a few postcards in from the USA alraedy, and I intend to create an online gallery over the Summer once all the art cards have been shared
The Postcard Collective
19th April 2017
The Postcard Collective is/are based in the USA. It's mission is to re-introduce physicality in a world gone cyber. I like it because it reminds me of my youth and making up compilation tapes for me and my pals. Making covers using the cut'n'paste techniques of sellotape and scissors. This of course, without us realising it, harked back to the late '70's and the DIY world pf post-punk indie labels and fanzines.
The idea, if you are selected, is to design a postcard and mail it out to those others on the list (USA, Canada, Finland, China) and they correspondingly do the same - art in motion. I'm sure the Fluxus group in San Fransisco did the same kind of mail art.

Anyway, I'm sure you can tell which way my postcard is going to go! More to follow........
CAIM Collective - draft work
09th March 2017
Some of our work in progress -

New Collaborative Work
08th March 2017
I'm pleased to announce that I will be working with three very talented artists on a new collaborative project. We will be working under the title of the CAIM Collective.
Artists statement of intent below -
The CAIM Collective aim to create a coherent whole through the media of Photography, Sound Recordings, Poetry & Printmaking.
We have come together as four distinct and separate artists, in our shared interest in the Scotland’s wild coastal places and a desire to capture a sense of space and wonder. Many things are not able to be seen properly. They may be unclear, or hazy or gauzy. Landscapes may be misty or seen from an odd angle, or just unfamiliar to the viewer. They may be viewed in bad weather, or poor visibility. These artists are attempting to define the Orkney land/seascapes relationship with the vagaries of the elements. Structure and absence are reoccurring elements in their work, as are juxtaposition and the unexpected. This project will bring together the disciplines of photography, poetry, printmaking and sound recording as an immersive whole which the viewer will be able to interact with.

Ingrid Budge works with digital, but mainly analogue photography, as well as pinhole and camera-less photography. This work with old-fashioned cameras and darkroom techniques lead to many of her images of her native Orkney Islands in the far north of Scotland displaying a timeless ethereality, but also an indiscernible quality. Alastair Jackson also hails from an island on the edge of Scotland, albeit on the west coast, and this remote upbringing gives his work a similar sense of space and distance. Although mainly a photographer, he also uses the haiku form to bridge the gap between images, sound and writing, Moira Buchanan ‘s current work explores her personal interaction with the Scottish coastline. She focuses on natural found objects such as shells, seaweed and algae. She often refers this process to metamorphism; reconstructing the state of an object into her own. As a music teacher, acoustic ecologist, violinist, violist, composer and sound artist Cavan Campbell has specialist skills working with sound and music within a broad range of contexts. Cavan works with immersive ambisonic surround sound technologies to record, archive and exhibit natural soundscapes from across Scotland that are being lost to the ever increasing effects of man-made noise pollution.
Hold Me Dear Project
17th February 2017
The Hold Me Dear Project is a curated gallery of images of places curated by Jenny Humberstone.

I have contributed to the latest gallery with a short piece about Skinidin, Skye

It's a chance to do something slightly different, and the first online project which I have contributed to
More Haiku
19th December 2016
Pleased to have had 3 haiku included as part of Moira Buchanan's 'All Washed Up' Exhibition at the HAC in Irvine.These are included in the hand-made art book which I think fits the mood of the words nicely

Aros Exhibition Opening Night
07th November 2016
A great evening was has by all in the Aros Centre, Portree on 29th October. This was the opening night of the Sorley MacLean inspired 'An Roghainn/The Choice' exhibition.

Things started well with a free dram, courtesy of R&B Distillers, who are setting up currently on Raasay.

The evening was MC-ed by Sorley's nephew, Cailean MacLean, and up first was Gaelic singer, Arthur Cormack, who gave an inspired rendition of some traditional songs. The crowd, including Sorley's 91 year old sister were singing along! Kenneth Steven then read from his Radio 3 broadcast about the Isle of Raasay, accompanied by visuals from yours truly, and then Skye fiddle player.

Ronan Martin got toes tapping with his 'Raasay Suite of tunes, again with some visuals from myself, and Kenneth rounded the evening off with his featured poetry and my images up on the screen - which are in the gallery space until the end of the year.

If you are in Skye, pop in to the Aros Centre in Portree and have a look -
03rd October 2016
I've talked a bit on this about haiku with regards to the exhibition at the Harbour Arts Centre, and having some haiku published. However, I realise that I've never actually published any examples. So here goes. This one was featured as part of the 'On Returning' exhibition -

Clouds wrap themselves in grey
Dawn creeps in
With ceramic opacity
Exhibition on Wall
30th August 2016
I am pleased to announce that my Images and accompanying Haiku are now on the wall in Gallery 1 at the HAC in Irvine.

Many thanks to Alison Riggans, Visual Arts Officer for making this possible and Brian Craig, artist & photographer for all the assistance in setting up -

Photography, Art & Trains
13th August 2016
It's sometimes strange how things work out. This time last year I was wondering how you went about getting your work into a gallery, and all of a sudden you get two exhibitions, audio-visual work, and an upcoming feature in an arts and culture magazine.

I've just finished reading a copy of 'Playing to the Gallery' by Grayson Perry, quite a funny and insightful little book, which asks, amongst other questions -what is art? One of his problematic boundary markers is that of photography. How can you tell, he muses, the photographs which are art, as opposed to those which are merely snaps' He asked the photographer Martin Parr, whose almost serious answer was, 'Well, if it's bigger than two metres, and it's priced higher that 5 figures!'

Well, my work most definitely doesn't meet those criteria, but today I have spotted this on the Scotrail website,d.d24

I'm not sure how it's made its way onto a train company's website, but if it brings in traffic, then I'm all for it!
Institute of Photography in Scotland - Exhibition Details
28th July 2016
Details of my September Exhibition are now up on the Institute of Photography in Scotland website.
Scotland's Artists
11th May 2016
Now featured on this site

Not sure if I'm worthy of some of the company here!
CCA Event
05th May 2016
Excellent event at the CCA, Glasgow, headlined by renowned Gaelic singer, Kathleen MacInnes, where I was asked to provide backdrops for the students of Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic College

Events for 2016
07th April 2016
2016 is turning out to be an interesting year so far!

Out of the blue, I've been asked to provide a visual backdrop at the CCA in Glasgow for An Cùrsa Ciùil, students from the BA Gaelic and Traditional Music Degree at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (Skye Gaelic College)take the stage to perform a selection of Gaelic songs and traditional airs. Should be interesting!

I've got my first solo exhibition in the Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine in September, and a joint exhibition with poet Kenneth Steven in the Aros Centre, Portree on our reinterpretation of the work of Gaelic Bard, Sorley MacLean.

Let's see what happens next....
Sorley MacLean Project
08th February 2016
I'm pleased to announce that I will be working with acclaimed Perthshire writer, Kenneth Steven on a project provisionally entitled 'Places' which is based around those locations mentioned in the great Gaelic Bard's poems. I also hope to be working with a talented singer/musician/artist called Jess Ipkendanz on this project. More details to follow.

Jess' Website

Kenneth's Website