Photography, film and audio production are at the core of our work. For us it is where it all began. It is what we trained to do and it is also how we express ourselves creatively.
We have both worked in the film and photography industries for over 20 years. Mark is a filmmaker with experience from script to screen as well as teaching the craft of film editing. Rebecca is an established photographic artist with experience in commercial and museum photography as well as teaching photography and darkroom practice as a university tutor.
We believe that film and photography, as distinct but connected languages, are an effective way to explore cultural heritage. We utilise photography, film and sound archives to stimulate project ideas using images and sound as our starting point. In her work with the Gunnie Moberg Archive Rebecca used the artist’s remarkable collection to engage groups in creative conversations about cultural heritage. Folklore was a starting point for the art and archaeology project made with Rousay children – Investigations of a Hogboon Mound.
We often use visual and oral archive material to engage communities and to stimulate ideas for new content. We draw on archive material in order to make new work in response. Mark created a suite of films with the community of Papay that weave archive audio and visual material with new content – see Papay on Film. For a Pier Arts Centre artist residency Mark used archive photographs and oral histories to generate a reflective docu-drama – see The Imaginary Worlds of Scapa Flow. In Stromness Hometown we built a soundscape of the town through archive and contemporary oral and music recordings. This approach uses oral history to travel through time while remaining in the one location. In the project Listening to the Piers, we created new audio pieces that can be listened to on an audio listening post at Stromness museum. For the project Wilder Being we created a new story based on folklore that was then used as the basis for a film. Artefacts found during archaeological digs on both these projects were photographed and displayed as part of the final exhibition.
Oral history is something we have embedded in many of our projects. In Stromness Hometown we were able to build a soundscape of the town through archive and contemporary recordings. This approach used oral history to travel through time while remaining in the same place.
Whilst connecting with our local archives is often the stimulus for projects, we also think it is important to create material for future resources of those archives. Many of our projects have since become part of the local archive. We will often create websites to house these new resources, with an on line exhibition an important part of the project.
Image: Reel to reel machine at Orkney Library & Archive. We have a range of equipment that we use in projects, we don’t have one of these but we’d like one! We use solid state audio recording equipment and digital fim cameras. We work across digital and traditional darkroom photography, so we keep a firm foot in the analogue world.