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.