Travelling the Archive

Image by Colin Hattersley

Travelling the Archive was a long-term project with artist Nicky Bird aimed at reimagining a time and place in Kyleakin’s past, for future audiences and current residents. Bird sought to share and make accessible the 1960s heritage of the close community of Kyleakin in the Isle of Skye, through a series of 35mm slide images taken during this period by seasonal visitor Miss Joan Wilcock.

A unique collection of 35mm slides known as the Joan Wilcock Collection, form a portrait of the Kyleakin community before the construction of the Skye bridge and before the famous Skye ferry ceased to operate; events which changed both the geography and the way of life for residents and visitors to the area. The Joan Wilcock Collection (a series of over 400 slides taken between 1959 and 1973) was gifted to the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre upon the death of Miss Wilcock in 1994. These slides, and the portraits captured within them, were the basis for the Travelling the Archive’ project, which used the slides to raise awareness of the heritage of this significantly altered village, historically known as the gateway to Skye.

In early 2016, an outdoor exhibition was displayed around the village showcasing some of the Joan Wilcock Collection in the landscape where the images were initially captured.

To coincide with the outdoor exhibition a souvenir booklet was produced, acting as a tangible accompaniment to the memories shared through the photos – highlighting the contrast between the past and present landscape. The booklet design took inspiration from a guide to Kyleakin that was originally available in the village in the 1960s, and possibly used by Miss Wilcock herself during her trips to Skye.

A guidebook with a difference… is introduced by ATLAS Director Emma Nicolson who recalls how Travelling the Archive’ came to be conceived, and closes with an artist’s memory, that of Will MacLean one of Scotland’s leading and highly regarded contemporary artists. MacLean’s parents left Kyleakin in 1944 and he acknowledges how much his visits as a child influenced his own creativity and pride in his heritage.

Please see the digital version of the booklet on our publication page. If you would like a hard copy, these are available along with a memory walk map from project collaborators Kyleakin Local History Society: The Bright Water Centre, Kyleakin Connections and Nice Cafe, Kyleakin Post Office, Castle Moil Stores, Harry’s Cafe – all in Kyleakin, Isle of Skye. Copies can also be found as reference material in the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre Portree, Isle of Skye.