Tara Drummie (She/Her)
I am a photographer, filmmaker and artist based on the Isle of North Uist, Scotland. My photographic practice celebrates a healthy relationship between humans and the land, acknowledging the harmful narratives that demand positive and progressive change amid the Anthropocene.
Harvesting Light is an ongoing body of work motivated by a symbiotic relationship between humans and the land, inspired by the crofters who encourage the rare and biodiverse machair ecosystem prevalent on the Isle of North Uist to thrive. While its rich ecosystem is a unique habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, machair is not entirely ‘wild’, the longevity of low-intensity cultivation exhibited by islanders over millennia having too shaped the land. For instance, unlike humans’ excessive use of fertilizers in intensive farming, many admirable crofters still endeavour to scatter seaweed onto the fields before ploughing. This enriches the ground with organic matter and binds the soil with moisture, aiding in protecting the low-lying machair from the devastating impacts of global warming, with rising sea levels and the surge in the intensity and frequency of storms resulting in the erosion, flooding and submergence of coastal areas globally. It is imperative that humans as part of the global population responsibly establish an alternate path to protect our earth and consequently, ourselves. Sheep Shelter Camera, Bird Hide Camera, and Horse Box Camera reflect a collaboration between the more-than-human assemblages of the machair and the maker. The works are time-based and site-specific, exclusively using matter found within a given environment to create a camera obscura, dissembling the works and appropriately disposing of any harmful debris found on site upon a work’s completion.
A camera obscura is a rudimentary optical instrument comprising a dark chamber, a small round hole known as an aperture, and reflected light, projecting an image of the external environment onto the internal wall.
I savour the utterly experiential and intimate process of engaging with each extraordinary machair environment, enjoying using my hands to plaster the final light leaks up, with mud, sand, or whatever will cling, then pausing as my eyes slowly adjust to the freshly projected landscape.
Sheep Shelter Camera
The dark chamber in the work Sheep Shelter Camera (left) consisted of a rusty diesel tank that was being used as a sheep shelter, a steel gate, rotted wood, nettle stems and mud, leaving one corroded hole exposed to function as the aperture (centre). Reflected light travelled through the aperture, projecting an image of the exterior machair croft onto the rusty internal wall (right).
Bird Hide Camera
The assemblage of a lid to an insulated fish box, a tyre, a car foot mat, a size 7 left shoe, a size 9 right slider, fishing rope, two wooden pallets, rotted plywood, a tree trunk, Lewisian Gneiss, seaweed and mud created the dark chamber for Bird Hide Camera (left). A hole in a limpet shell set in mud functioned as the aperture (centre). The exterior machair environment’s reflected light travelled through the aperture, projecting its image onto a piece of plywood in the camera obscura’s interior (right).
Horse Box Camera
The dark chamber for Horse Box Camera (left) was created utilising a horse box, marine debris, rotten silage, cow dung and sand found on site. A hole in a calf’s feeding bottle cap, also discovered nearby, functioned as the aperture (centre) and harvested the reflected light of the external croft within the horse box’s interior (right).