A new exhibition being hung today (Wednesday October 2nd) at Museum nan Eilean will re-awaken memories of Stornoway’s fishing industry in the late 1970s and early 80s.
‘Fishing the Minch’ opens on Saturday and features the photographs of David Gordon, who as a young man boarded the Fiery Cross, a fishing boat based in Stornoway.
With skipper Donald MacDonald and his crew, he sailed the Minch as the crew trawled for their catch. The resulting photographs were uniquely exhibited in what was described as “the first flyposted exhibition in the country” by the Half Moon Photography Workshop in the East End of London in 1980.
Today, almost forty years later, the entire edit of these historic images has been rediscovered, scanned and printed. They show the wider fishing industry and daily life in Stornoway – a fascinating glimpse into a world of work and play that has now all but disappeared.
Shot in a classic 35mm black and white documentary style, Gordon’s narrative takes the viewer from the rough seas of the Atlantic back to the photographer’s boyhood town. In the Young’s factory women hand-peel prawns; in Rolf Olsen’s processing plant, fish is frozen and salted. On a Friday night, the chip shop is full. In a bar, a drunk sleeps off his whisky at closing time.
These tender, quiet images are a portal back to a lost past, yet in their simplicity they echo a rhythm that is timeless and entirely recognisable.
This exhibition was produced by Street Level Photoworks and is a partnership with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Museum nan Eilean.