Sunk Island Heritage Centre, Fiona Caley
Fiona Caley (Arts Award 2016) shares thoughts on her project ‘The Land That Connects Us’
Arts Award holder for 2016, Fiona Caley, reflects on the outcomes of her photographic project documenting the changing landscape of Holderness, including through the perspective of her 82 year old father.
My aims for my project were
- to develop my focus on Holderness,
- to record aspects of the landscape for an exhibition and a book
- to record aspects of my father’s life to include in the project
- to travel and meet other local farmers, recording through photography and interview
- to be led by those we met
- to work without a bias at the start.
Receiving the St Hugh’s Foundation Award gave me ‘permission’ to spend some time with my camera, notebook and recorder on a theme of personal importance. That of our place in rural Holderness and looking at my father’s life. As an artist, I’ve worked on a variety of projects for and with others, but until 2010 I didn’t have a portfolio of my own. In 2010 I began to photograph the coastline where I lived as a college project (www.theseafieldproject.co.uk). It was this that gave me the inspiration for spending more time in this landscape. I just wanted to absorb more of it, its simplicity and its stark beauty, I wanted more of the way it made me feel. Applying to the St Hugh’s Foundation in 2016 enabled me to do this.
When I was awarded the grant, I began to look more in depth at the surrounding area and gradually went further afield. We visited areas in Holderness I had never been to and some that unbelievably my father hadn’t been to either. We spent time in an area called Sunk Island some way to the south of us. It had always been a place of some mystery to me, with infrequent visits in the past, now I wanted more. The landscape being flat echoed the landscape of dad’s farm, but more so. With huge areas of open uncluttered views and open skies it looked beautiful through the camera lens, but more than this the landscape touched something deep within me.
Holderness and the East Riding is an area that I feel is often overlooked. With a low population and a few tourist attractions such as the coastal resorts, it is often bypassed by people who embark or disembark the ferries in Hull. Folks usually seem to head inland. In a way, I am glad of this, but in other ways, I wanted to draw others into the beauty of this area. Hills and mountains are beautiful and I will never tire of them, however venturing into an area with little to obstruct the view of the sky and the clouds releases a profound emotion within. And a chance to just be.
Along the way we have met a variety of people connected to the land. This is a life-long project and I still will meet and talk with more, albeit slowly. I have in fact spent more time with dad and his writing, looking at the changes in his life, learning more about his life, and I know there is more to come. We are looking forward to producing a book. I have also started to branch out in to creating ‘useful’ products for sale, as well as cards and prints, as a way of sharing my photography further, along-side work in an exhibition. I have also penned a few poems whilst I’ve been out in the landscape, some of these will feature in the exhibition too.
A few events have happened because of my focus on Sunk Island. I was featured on the BBC’s Countryfile programme in April 2017. I supplied an image to Hull University for their participation in the National Being Human Festival in November, where we looked at passages from a book on Sunk Island written by Hubert Nicholson. I took part on the day. I was invited to talk about my project and specifically Sunk Island at the Driffield photographic Society, with another talk coming up in June in Barton upon Humber, and another in the pipeline for early 2019. I had an exhibition at the Heritage Centre in Sunk Island on May 13th 2018, and the main showing of 'The Land that Connects Us' (at last I have a title), in a paddock at East Newton in June 2018. Once the ground is dry.
For more of my thoughts on this ongoing project please visit http://www.fionacaley.org.uk/st-hughs/4594288961
Fiona Caley 2018