Sutherland | Caithness
An exhibition of photography and film in response to the people, heritage and lands of Sutherland and Caithness by Alastair Cook.
Photographer | Architect | Artist
Alastair’s photographic and artistic work is guided by his knowledge, skill and experience as a conservation architect. His work is rooted in place and the intrinsic connections between people, land and heritage.
Alastair grew up in the south west of Scotland, trained as an architect at the Glasgow School of Art then fled the country. He returned after a dutiful spell in London and a more relaxed time in Amsterdam. After exhibiting in Amsterdam, Alastair settled in Edinburgh and, with his wife Emma Franks, opened Friction, a gallery providing artists with their first solo show on a not for profit basis.
Sutherland | Caithness
Sutherland | Caithness was an exhibition documenting Alastair’s photographic and artistic response to the people, heritage and lands of Sutherland and neighbouring Caithness. The photographs and film were all taken during a stay with Timespan in December 2009, during which the artist spent time with the community, developing an understanding of the place, its past and its future.
Sutherland | Caithness was an exhibition principally of black and white 35mm film photographs, set alongside new filmwork. The themes of dereliction and abandonment, common threads that weave through Alastair’s work, were visible in his response to Sutherland and Caithness, set alongside his strong response to the sea.
The Silver Darlings (7 minutes)
The Silver Darlings is a new short film by Alastair featuring an original soundtrack by Italian composer Luca Nasciuti.
Taking its name from the book by Neil M. Gunn, The Silver Darlings follows a route from deep within the land out toward the coast, evoking the Clearance and reflecting on the land, heritage and people moved from the Strath of Kildonan to the planned villages of Golspie, Brora and Helmsdale. An emotive subject, the swell of Luca’s music carries the viewer on the journey toward the sea.
MALIN II (39 minutes)
MALIN II is a new audiovisual work by Alastair, completed in 2010. It draws out a journey, at times suffocating but ultimately exhilarating. Dark imagery is interwoven with field recordings and embellished with guitar melodies, hushed vocals and heartier bass drones.
The film is broad in its scope, engaging with layered sound while using the film to move through the landscape. Much of the field recordings and digital video were taken while Alastair was resident in Helmsdale last year.
Exit (6 minutes)
Exit is a short film by DISSIMILAR (artists Alastair Cook and James Norton, based in Edinburgh and London respectively). DISSIMILAR shoot on miniDV, using realtime raw footage to build suspense, harnessing the low-fi elements of the medium to produce distinct and impressive free-budget films.
Lifting himself up carefully, he felt his way to the door, sparks of bright pain puncturing the black. He flicked the switch. Eyes shut, he listened. He heard the linoleum expanding, warming under his feet. The dull pulse in his head slowed. He held fast to the doorframe and breathed in. He opened his eyes.
Alastair and James have provided a new Director’s Cut of Exit for this exhibition; Exit deals with the themes of dereliction and abandonment, common threads that weave through Alastair’s work and are visible in his response to Sutherland and Caithness.