“PEOPLE OF SCILLY”
THIS PROJECT WILL HAVE THESE BENEFICIAL OUTCOMES;
- An archivalcollection of Island portraits, a slice of a moment in time, in the Isles of Scilly
- An exhibition on each of the five inhabited Islands of residents portraits
- An accompanying audio of a selection of those depicted, female, male, young and old
- Training in large format plate photography for local school students
- Complete professional darkroom instruction, developing and printing for those students
- A book of the images depicted, one from each island containing the audio dialogue
- A book of the combined images from all of the islands
- A final exhibition at the National Portrait gallery, London
- National awareness for the Isles of Scilly and its inhabitants
I have always enjoyed a fascination with photography, particularly Black and White photography.
As a teenager, I assisted the new and enthusiastic Art teacher at my school in Coventry in building a school darkroom as my father had built one inside our home and had the relevant experience and knowledge.
There we loaded and developed our own black and white film and were given generous access to the darkroom in and out of school hours to develop and print our photographs.
I achieved a good GCSE grade for my work and progressed onwards to A level art where I concentrated on photography and photographic based screen printing and photo etching.
This in turn took me to Hornsey college of art in north London to take a degree in fine art, specialising in photography and photographic based screen printing and again photo etching, to a successful degree standard acquired in 1980.
In 1983 I was offered a position of laboratory assistant at a highly professional processing and developing darkroom in central London. I quickly grew into the role of assistant and within one year was running the business completely for my employer who was now concentrating on a new business of importing a new range of black and white photographic paper.
Realising my worth and potential I eventually left to start my own Black and White photographic laboratory in Wardour St, London W1. A solid core of professional photographers, I had previously worked with closely, followed me into my new enterprise. I soon found myself to soon be the preferred photographic printer for clients such as,
David Bailey, Patrick Demarchelier, Linda Mc Cartney, Angus Mc Bean, Nadav Kander, Uli weber, Terry O Neil, Clive Arrowsmith, John Swannell, Spencer Rowell, Karena Peronnet-Miller, Lorenzo Agius and too many more to list.
During this period with help and inspiration from working closely with my clients I pushed my own photography to the fore and began to achieve a considerable amount of freelance photographic work. I opened my own photographic studio in Brighton and from there created a successful career in the Advertising, fashion and beauty photographic business, working each and every weekend when not processing and printing for my important clients in London.
Throughout this period of frenetic photographic absorbsion I was first introduced to the Isles of Scilly by my wife Elizabeth.
This introduction was a moment of powerful revelation for me, and still is to this day.
I was immediately captivated by this immense landscape of sea and sky, the intense piercing light, the colour saturation of the land and the intense faces of the inhabitants reflecting their stories.
Scilly, comprising of five inhabited islands and some 300 isles in total has been occupied since prehistoric times, thousands of flint tools and Neolithic burial chambers dot the landscape.
It can be a harsh environment in the winters when the fierce South Westerly winds batter the isles without barrier or interruption from the cruel Atlantic sea. The summers however are benefited by the gulf stream which brings warm airs, intense sunshine and provide kind, dark, rich soils to grow in.
Traditionally, being at the gateways to both the English Channel and the Irish sea, it has developed over centuries to be a centre of sea trade and fishing and also a place of migration and arrival. The warm temperatures and seldom frosts have allowed the islands to become an early producer of potatoes, fruit, and especially early daffodils and Narcissi, for delivery to Covent garden flower market. Today there still is a flourishing postal flower initiative, growing year on year.
The flower industry has, in the past, provided the islands with a valuable income for many years and the islands are covered with narrow granite walled fields still producing incredibly scented flowers to this day, although the main income in latter years has been derived mainly from tourism, with visitor’s island hopping in gaily painted wooden boats, some of which took soldiers off the French beaches at Dunkirk in the second world war.
Boating and fishing are a way of life, a necessity and also provide much fish and crab for the tourist industry here or transported across the water to Newlyn fish market outside Penzance, some twenty-eight miles away.
I have now lived here for twenty-five years and have continued throughout to take thousands of photographs, colour and black and white, of the stunning landscapes and the faces of those who are privileged to live in such a challenging but stunningly beautiful place.
I have produced a successfully selling book, “The Island Ingredient” of images, landscape, Island foods and portraits of those who reside here and I have come to know as fellow Islanders.
It was always my intention upon arriving here to document as many of the inhabitants here that survive in this beautiful, yet exposed and unique situation.
Whilst I have continued to photographically capture the flavour of the Islands and the people who toil here in what are sometimes extremely challenging situations I have not until this date had the opportunity to achieve the body of archival work I had planned those twenty-five years ago.
During my residence here, I have, through work, fixed my own identity and place in this landscape, environment and gained a trust within this closely supportive community.
I have worked as a maintenance operator at the Island hotel, a commercial fisherman on a netting boat for two years, picked and packed narcissi on the main Island flower farm, delivering the flowers to quay by tractor, worked in a busy commercial bakery here, managed a “Green farm” on St Martins, milking goats and cows and making organic cheeses from their milk, I have worked as builders labourer on various Island building projects, as a passenger boat deck crew-hand and chef in the Islands hotel.
Throughout this whole time, I have never ceased to photograph my journey and the changing aspects of the island and those who also strive and reside here alongside me.
Throughout my time here I have forged relationships with fellow islanders and I believe that I have an experienced, unique insight into the way this community and the people whom it is composed of works. I have gained a respect through my photographic commissions and depictions here and a trust from those who have worked side by side with me and known me for twenty-five years, both through the moments of largess and love but also some times of lean, and occasionally tragic loss.
I believe that this proposed photographic archival project, by its intimacy and vast scale of documentation is without precedent in this country.
I intend, with the correct permissions, to photograph as many of the 2,400 inhabitants as I am able to capture. The portraits will be shot on high resolution, large format, 5 x 4 inch sheet film, in black and white, each image captured against a white background backdrop.
The film will be processed by myself, and young assistants in training. It will printed by myself, with the help of assistants and the completed project displayed in the form of local exhibition one for each Island of the inhabitants that dwell there, and eventually National exhibition.
It is my intention to try to capture a reflection in the faces here of the nature of the islands, to perceive through the portrait, their place in their situation, their influence on their surrounding mirrored and their environment’s influence on themselves retrospectively etched.
The Isles of Scilly comprise of five inhabited islands, the main Island of St Marys with approximately 2000 residents and the outer islands of St Martins (where I reside) Tresco, Bryher, and St Agnes.
Each of the outer Islands have in the region of 100 inhabitants.
I intend the completed body of work to achieve an exhibition on each outer Island, in Scilly, namely four in total, the exhibitions containing framed black and white finished prints, 16 x 12 inch, of islanders’ portraits photographed on white backdrop, along with audio of some of the recollections, aspirations and descriptions of island life through from a cross section of residents photographed and contained in the finished exhibition display.
The final work will then locally culminate with an exhibition on St Marys, the largest of the islands, again with mounted and framed photographs (16 x 12 inch) and once more also include an audio to allow the exhibition goer to hear the voices of those depicted, on that larger island of this community.
Eventually it is my wish to enable a large selection of this completed work to be displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, London and the Royal Academy.
This project is a not for profit enterprise culminating in exhibitions both locally and hopefully nationally. I have applied for Arts council funding to enable this project to reach a culmination of local and national exhibition.
At some later stage, outside of grant funding the images from the exhibitions held on each local island and nationally would eventually be represented in book form depicting the images from each island achieved, Island by Island, along with some written content of the audio narrative gathered during this project.
Also at a later stage, individual archival prints from each exhibition would eventually be available for private purchase.
I am seeking funding to enable this project to take place, to allow me to purchase materials, to equip a darkroom enabling me to produce the work within the local environment.
The funding for this project will also provide an opportunity to train young people here in Scilly in the form of assisting in the photographic portrait process, which will then go on to also include
complete, competent professional processing and developing darkroom, to the highest standard. This will enable the project to be successfully both locally and Nationally and to enable some young people to gain experience and training in all photographic processes and to possibly contemplate what future projects they themselves could possibly embark on themselves.
I envisage that this project will be a wonderful insight into a moment of time of the lives of the people who inhabit the Isles of Scilly and a fascinating visual and audio recording of a way of life which has adapted and thrived in this beautifully challenging environment.
This project has the possibility to act as a wonderful creative springboard for other photographic and audio projects that could be undertaken in this country, by myself, or some other young enthusiast inspired by the challenge of capturing of the reflections, descriptions and accounts of our unique peoples inhabiting our unique and challenging landscapes.
I have applied for Arts Council funding for this vast body of work, to which I must add independent funding to enable this project to be completed completely and competently for the participation and enjoyment of those who know Scilly and those who support the future of the arts and the benefit of creativity into the future.
I HAVE LAUNCHED A CROWDFUNDING APPLICATION TO HELP PROVIDE THE SUPPORT FOR THE INITIAL GRANT APPLICATION, WITH NEEDED ADDED FUNDS TO ENABLE THE REALISATION OF THIS WORK TO BE DELIVERED.
THIS ADDITIONAL FIGURE NEEDED IS £7,500
I AM SEEKING SOME SMALL INVESTMENTS FROM PEOPLE, FOR REWARDS AND INVOLVEMENT IN THE PROJECT TO ENABLE ITS EVOLVEMENT AND SUCCESS.
IF YOU THINK THAT THIS IS AN ARCHIVAL PHOTOGRAPHIC PROJECT WORTH SUPPORTING PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING IT WITH A SMALL INVESTMENT.
THE SITE TO INVEST IN THIS UNIQUE AND FASCINATING PROJECT OF A CELEBRATION OF PEOPLE IS;
PLEASE HELP THIS PROJECT HAPPEN
THE PROJECT TITLE, FOR YOUR SUPPORT IS; “PEOPLE OF SCILLY”
THERE ARE JUST 28 DAYS TO ACHIEVE THIS TARGET FIGURE
THANK YOU, TOBY TOBIN-DOUGAN, Ganilly St Martins, Isles of Scilly TR25 0QL
01720 423505 07470 349 007