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Students research project exhibition captures the living landscapes of a North Coast 500 community

Muriel Murray showing her family fishing "completely unsuccessfully" in the rain at Castlehill harbour.
Muriel Murray showing her family fishing "completely unsuccessfully" in the rain at Castlehill harbour.

Photographs taken on disposable cameras by northern villagers are featuring in a unique exhibition hoping to shine a spotlight on tourism, heritage and landscape along the North Coast 500 route.

Five villagers from Castletown, in Caithness, are the eyes behind the lenses of Thurso student Julian Grant’s PhD project ‘Living Landscapes of Castletown’.

The 26-year-old University of the Highlands and Islands student enlisted their help to create his exhibition of digital-free and unedited photos, in partnership with the village’s heritage centre.

Mr Grant, who lives in Thurso said that by involving the community he hoped to document and reflect its relationship with the human and natural landscapes around them.

Julian Grant, creator of the Living Landscapes of Castletown exhibition.  Supplied by University of Highlands and Islands Date

The contributors also took part in group discussions and prepared captions for the images.

He said: “Given the opportunity, what would residents choose to share with visitors about the place where they live?

“Could this encourage a more inquisitive, informed and mutually beneficial form of tourism?

“The project was conducted in the midst of the Covid pandemic and has produced a unique and vivid record of Castletown at this moment in time.

“It illustrates a view of a touristed landscape from the inside, through the eyes of the people who live there.”

Photo by Cairistiona Stone.  Washed up.

The world-leading NC500 tourist trail marks its fifth anniversary this summer and is gearing-up to welcome a boost in local visitors opting to holiday in the UK post-lockdown.

“The images and words are full of memories, of people, of bits of poetry, of personal forms of knowledge rooted in the joys and challenges of life in a rural community,” Mr Grant added.

“They remind us that this is a peopled place with a vibrant life of its own.

“Whether you are from nearby or from far away, they offer a chance to see the place through another perspective.

“The process of creating these images and learning about the lives behind them has been the centrepieces of my research.

“It has given me plenty of food for thought, and I hope it does the same for those who view this exhibition.”

Sign of the times. Photo by Muriel Murray.

The ‘Living Landscapes of Castletown’ images can be viewed on the Castletown Heritage website.

Public exhibitions are being planned at the Castlehill Heritage Centre and the Lyth Arts Centre this summer.

 

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