Happy New Year

Seems a bit late to be saying that, but I’ve been struggling to make time for social media recently. So as this is my first post of 2018 I thought I’d make it a good one! Today I’m talking about my work on a recent collaboration titled “Sounds of Rousay”.

Sounds of Rousay

Last year I was commissioned to go up to the island of Rousay, part of the Orkneys, by my friend Bernadette Kellermann. Bernadette was writing a suite of violin music about the island and wanted some images and video clips to accompany the performance. I was delighted to be asked and keen to go – as well as being involved in this ace project, I lived on Orkney for a time as a wee boy and had planned to return as part of my Handling the Negatives project.

Sounds of Rousay

Now I’m not a big one for selfies, but this photo of me is me at my happiest – setting off over the sea from Tingwall House with an adventure ahead. Approaching Rousay by boat you feel that you’re somewhere near the end of the world – as we were passing by the worryingly-exposed-looking Wyre I noticed my phone reception start to plummet. Shags flew alongside the boat as Rousay pier began to pull into view. I was so excited to get to land and get to work.






I had about 32 hours on Rousay in total, with just over half of that light enough to shoot. So I had to be quite methodical in my approach. For the first few hours I walked and cycled around the island, noting locations and shooting anything that caught my attention. I was struck by how hard life must be at times, particularly on the west side of the island where ruined crofts dot the hillsides. The occasional squalls which blew in from the sea were full of fury, and the waves were hammering at the cliffs as I cycled by.

Sounds of Rousay

In the evening further bad weather rolled in, so I returned to the Taversoe Hotel and had a bite to eat and assessed my day’s work. I started to divvy up the images I’d taken into two broad themes – colour and texture. This gave me a deliberate angle to take the following day.

The following day was bright and breezy, and I spent a lot of time combing the shoreline and examining various archaeological features of the island. Colour and texture were at the centre of my mind, and I was able to work efficiently to capture more images on these themes. The clock was against me, however, and before long my time on Rousay was coming to an end. As the ferry pulled into the Wyre Sound, I stared back at Rousay for as long as I could see it. Strange to feel wistful about a place after such a short space of time, but it felt like an intimate space of time. I’ll be back someday.

Sounds of Rousay

Next Steps

Once I was back home it was a case of sorting through and editing the images, then getting them over to Bernadette. Bernadette worked with Amalie Taule and Luigi Pasquini to complete the running order and coordinate it with Bernadette’s music. Bernadette performed the piece with accompanying video in Glasgow in June 2017 – it was one of my proudest moments seeing my work displayed like that. I love the combination of my work with such accomplished music, and think the guys did a fab job putting it together (I’m a sucker for the pizzicato violin over the water drops at the 10:20 mark!). I’m so grateful to Bernadette for letting me be part of this project, and hopefully we’ll get to do a bit more with it in the future.

So here it is: Sounds of Rousay.

Give yourself time to sit and watch properly – it’s worth it.

Sounds of Rousay


Thanks to Bernadette for letting me be involved! Thanks also have to go to the people of the Mainland and Rousay who were so kind at every turn. Special thanks to Carol Taylor, Alan Taylor, Carey at the Taversoe, and to my mum for joining me on the trip to the Mainland (and epic driving to get us to the ferry…!). Thanks finally to Tina, for everything.

Sounds of Rousay Credits

Bernadette Kellermann: violin, composition, artistic direction

Peter Stevenson: photography, videography

Amalie Taule: videography, visual arts

Luigi Pasquini: studio engineering, mixing, mastering