‘Wish you were here’: Alternative postcard views of the Hebrides
The idealised image of the Outer Hebrides includes wind swept beaches, isolated peat covered moors, and craggy mountain cliff tops abounding with wildlife. These images are reproduced in countless tourist postcards and websites to entice visitors to visit, explore, and of course spend their money on the islands. At the same these images create a certain ‘expectation’ of the islands that not only promote a particular ‘way of seeing’ (Berger 1972) the landscape, but perpetuate the dominant narrative of the ‘wild’ wind-swept islands. This projects tries to challenge these notions of ‘nature’, wilderness and heritage by accepting alternative and ‘minor histories’ (Benjamin 2005) of the landscapes by the people who live there. In a subversive nod to the tourist postcard, I have been exploring contemporary issues of island life and landscape, through unconventional representations of island postcards. Made by myself and residents of the islands, these postcards are themed around contemporary Hebridean issues, including: health, isolation, community, landscape, family, and work. This talk looks at the fragmentary and constellation (Gilloch 2002) of images made about the islands and challenges the notion of a ‘wild’ romantic island place, and offering insight into how identity, memory and heritage are understood on these islands.
George is a Research Associate for the Glasgow School of Art at the Creative Campus in Moray. His research focuses on the messy entanglement between heritage and material cultures. Currently, he is working on a creative ethnography of the Hebrides to develop the hidden and underlying stories of the region via co-produced and narrative methods.