Time capsule photo collection of Western Isles fishermen emerges

A collection of images of Western Isles fishermen taken by a teenage photographer who boarded a boat out of Stornoway more than 40 years ago has emerged.

On board the 'Fiery Cross', fishing in the Minch, 11 September 1978. PIC: David Gordon.

Photographer David Gordon spent part of his childhood in Stornoway Isle of Lewis, and returne the island from London as a teenager to photograph those working out in the Minch, one of the most challenging stretches of water around Scotland.

The works originally formed part of a radical photo show in East London in the late 1970s, where the images were pasted to a boarded up shopfront in Bethnal Green in the "world's first flyposted exhibition”.

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Salting mackerel at Olsen's in Stornoway. PIC: David Gordon.

Now Gordon, of Glasgow, will see his work hang once again at Dunoon Burgh Hall as part of the Everything Flows exhibition, a four-month exhibition trail that includes several venues in towns up the west coast.

Gordon said it was gratifying to see the images from his Fishing the Minch collection show again. The photos sat in the photographer’s archives for more than four decades before gaining new interest after they were digitised at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow a couple of years ago.

The photographer said: “The photos have become a sort of historical document and that’s good to know.

"Looking at the pictures afresh, I found images that I had overlooked for all these years. They came to life once again.”

Boats arrive at the fish market in Stornoway. PIC: David Gordon.

Gordon said his intention had been “not to make romantic images” as he travelled from London to Stornoway.

“I wanted to record the reality of life. I didn’t want to produce something glossy for a Sunday supplement that was of this romantic place on the edge of Scotland,” he added.

Gordon boarded the fishing boat the Fiery Cross with skipper Donald Macdonald and crew, first venturing on day trips looking for cod and prawns and then spending the best part of a week on board, a trip that took them deep into the southerly Minch.

He said: “I always remember being very well fed on those trips. We eat everything but fish. We’d have bacon and eggs for breakfast and there would always be a pot of soup on the go. There was always a stew cooking.

A member of the crew at the stern on a showery evening. PIC: David Gordon.

"I already knew the skipper from my time in Stornoway and found these guys very easy to get along with and they were relaxed being photographed.”

The Everything Flows exhibiton trail takes in a number of coastal galleries including the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine, Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock and The Rockfield Centre in Oban.

Malcolm Dickson, Director at Street Level Photoworks, said: “It has been a difficult time for artists, cultural venues and local communities, so we are particularly excited to now be able to launch the Everything Flows photographic trail with partner venues in regional locations.

“Each venue will present the work of different photographers so we are hoping that people will enjoy following the trail over the Summer to see a wide variety of really exceptional work in some of Scotland’s most beautifully located galleries.”

Other shows include Mandy Barker’s exploration of plastic debris on our beaches and former Buzzcocks drummer John Maher’s study of abandoned crofts from across the Outer Hebrides.

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