Sharing Heritage

Image by Colin Hattersley. Banner image: Children in Kyleakin, (c. 1964) L‑R: Neil MacInnes, Marie MacInnes, Alasdair Morrison,David Taylor, Neil Taylor (SL/​D110/​18/​2). Joan Wilcock images courtesy of the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre, Portree.

ATLAS Arts is thrilled to present a new work by Nicky Bird. Travelling the Archive is a collaborative project with the Kyleakin Local History Society and The Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre Portree, Isle of Skye. The project uses the Joan Wilcock photographic collection as a catalyst to uncover the memories of the people of Kyleakin and share their unique heritage. The collection of over four hundred 35 mm slides taken by Miss Joan Wilcock (1895−1994) in the late 1950s and early 1970s provides an unusual portrait of the village of Kyleakin.

Kyleakin Local History Society and ATLAS Arts became aware of the collection at a time when ATLAS had begun to discuss the possibilities of a project with Nicky Bird, whose practice investigates the contemporary relevance of found photographs.

Working closely with the history society, the archivist and the community; Bird has distilled the images and the memories she has been gathering during a yearlong period of research to create a night-time, outdoor exhibition and opening event. A selection of the images will be installed and projected onto buildings, windows and the water in the locations in which the original photographs were taken. A souvenir booklet – a guide book with a difference accompanied by a memory map, shows the original images alongside present-day photographs taken in the same place. The booklet is presented in the style of a guide to Kyleakin that was available in the village in the 1960s, possibly used by Miss Wilcock herself.

Travelling the Archive opened with a talk by Ian McCrorie the official Caledonian MacBrayne historian. Ian was appointed to the role in 2001 to mark the 150th anniversary of Caledonian MacBrayne. ATLAS Arts Project collaborator Kyleakin Local History Society hosted the talk entitled The MacBrayne Story on Saturday 19 March from 3.00 – 5.00pm in the Community Hall Kyleakin. Kyleakin Connections was the hub for the evening event.

Prior to the opening event in March, audio visual technicians Tom Cullen and Tommy Stewart visited Kyleakin to meet Bird, ATLAS Arts Project Coordinator Rosie Somerville and West Coast Events (a Skye-based production company) that gives experience to young people in event management. The production team was joined by several young people from across Skye and the adjacent Island of Raasay. These young people and local volunteers worked with the technicians to gain experience in this specialised field.

Some of the backlit projections were tested in the window of what was the village shop, now the post office. Photographer Colin Hattersley who joined the production team during the workshops captured the scene which gives a flavour of how the series of portraits will be presented. Other images feature children playing in the streets and they will be installed as banners on railings in the locations where they were originally photographed by Miss Wilcock.

This project has been made possible through Creative Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund Sharing Heritage Programme and Highland Council. This enabled an ambitious and contemporary interpretation of this heritage and the memories alongside a programme of activities.