Bruise from an oak tree
Photographing the landscape that’s been home to generations of her family helped Zoe to examine the connection she feels to the land.
WHAT’S YOUR DAY JOB?
I’m a fine art photographer at the beginning of my career (I hope) so I do a variety of things, aside from personal work, to pay the bills.
I love all things museum related so I do some digitisation and collections photography, most recently for the Cockburn Geological Museum in Edinburgh. I am also passionate about improving access and engagement with photography and I do some teaching on a freelance basis.
Lately I have been most thankful for my part time job at Stills Gallery in Edinburgh, I’ve been lucky enough to have that as a steady source of income over the last few months of lockdown uncertainty.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL PROJECT?
I moved to Edinburgh from Co. Antrim almost 6 years ago. Although the distance travelled was small, I found myself missing my home and more specifically the landscape there. It’s been home to several generations of my family but I also experience a physical sensation there that is not related to conscious memory or nostalgia.
A Map Without Words began as an investigation into the connection that I feel to that landscape, in an effort to understand its effect on me. I’m interested in trying to understand and quantify the intangible, and the limits of science and photography to do so. Over time it snowballed (as my projects tend to!) and I’ve begun to look at wider questions about photography’s connection to ‘scientific truth’ in the colonial past and the politics of collecting and collections.
WHAT DID YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE WITH IT?
I’d like to present a project that invites people to think about place and identity, but also the shortcomings of photography and empiricism in giving us true understanding of an idea or theme.
I think the presentation and titling of the images will be vital in conveying the themes of the work, and it’s still something I’m considering. I’ve created a catalogue system for the images based on the standards of the British Museum but that runs the risk of perpetuating these systems rather than subverting them…Still a work in progress!
Bos Taurus, collected on Herbison’s.
My Dad’s tan from working
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT PERSONAL PROJECT?
My other long-term personal interest is in the wide world of horses. I’ve been obsessed with them since I was a child and have been shooting several small series on different aspects of horse culture that I find intriguing.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT?
I’m currently working my way through Blúiríní Béaloidis, (Folklore Fragments) a podcast from The National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin. It’s a great mix of academic discussion around Irish cultural traditions and original recordings of oral histories and anecdotes from the Collection itself. I like to find inspiration in all kinds of media, if I come across something of interest it tends to sit around in the back of my brain until I make the connection and realise why it’s relevant to my practice.
Tree on Spyke
Tree grows around a bedframe