‘Signs of Uncertainty’ in the Windows at Northlight

The Northlight Gallery, Stromness, continues with its window exhibition and is currently showing photographs by Ian Collins.

The exhibition is on from 20th of September until the 3rd of October.

Sign and tree West Dron Hill near Glenfarg March 2020, a week before the Covid-19 lockdown began.

Ian Collins says that he is interested by the way in which everyday objects or marks seem to take on a significance  perhaps not  intended by those who made them.

Beach towel in winter landscape Near Ballochleam Campsie Fells A cold, wet, winter afternoon. What is a beach towel doing at this remote spot, high up in the moorlands of the Campsie Fells? No Covid-19 restrictions.

His work has also examined the ways in which interest or beauty can be found in abandoned structures, notably the remains of wartime installations that have marked the Orcadian landscape.

Ian Collins describes one of the defining features of the Covid-19 crisis as the sense that nothing is quite what it was.  He chose four images for the windows with this in mind and says of them that they appear to have significance but the meaning is unclear.

Paddling pool The Rath Milford Haven Pembrokeshire An observation. Covid-19 lockdown restrictions begin to ease.

These interests have been reflected in solo exhibitions in Alloa, Stirling University, the Northlight Gallery, the Orkney Museum and group shows in Glasgow. Copies of Ian’s work are held by the Orkney Library & Archive.

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3 replies »

  1. I’ve been thinking about Ian’s picture of a tree, with an arrow, pointing upwards. As Ian says of his images…. “they appear to have significance but the meaning is unclear.”
    I had vague thoughts connected with Extinction Rebellion – trees, and their plight, pointing the way for us?
    The importance of looking up – rather than down?
    And the pool, with a cone which appears to float, but – it doesn’t, as there is no water in the pool. Cones are usually used to warn us to be careful in an approaching situation. There’s no water in the pool – do we need to ‘mind’ our water, too? Yes – we do – we’ve made it unfit to drink without complicated processing.
    The ‘X’ on the door – like the X’s used to mark the plague houses – that plague passed – this one will pass, too – eventually.
    Maybe I’m over-thinking and reading too much into these images? Maybe my mind is a bit too occupied with the times we’re living through, and the signs of those times?
    We need to be aware, and take action when we can, but being too aware, and taking too much on board, can damage our personal equilibrium – our balance in our own world – which we need to hold onto more than ever, in these times.

    I won’t be going into Stromness, maybe for a couple more months, so I won’t get to see Ian’s images, so, many thanks to Fiona for presenting them in this way, and to Ian for more food for thought.
    I’d written something about my own interpretation of the ideas behind this exhibition, which Fiona tells me is going to appear in TON. I wondered would it duplicate this piece – then I thought – for one thing – you can’t have too much publicity! and, also that my ‘view’ has a slightly different angle. My idea was to take the idea of Ian’s images of the war years, and the changes the war made in people’s lives then, and the idea of his images of the present time, and the changes Covid makes – and – kind of juxtapose them. I’m not sure I succeeded.

    Having seen Fiona’s piece, today, I can see that it triggers thought in a wider sense than mine does/will. Fiona’s piece, and Ian’s images which it presents to us, leads to more expansive lines of thought, and, in my view, chimes more with what Ian’s aims in presenting these images, might be.
    That’s just my line of thought on seeing his images, in this piece. As always, a very personal response. And – a review of an exhibition, without going to it! Another sign of the times.

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