Ootlier 2: Range

Hello – this is Tom today rather than Kate – I’m here to tell you about Ootlier 2, which has just been published today.

I enjoy many different kinds of photography, and my Ootlier zines give me the opportunity to explore my ideas and practice in different ways. Last year you may remember that I used the zine to produce a documentary project about the Drymen Show – an important local agricultural event (which takes place the week after next, for those who live nearby)

Ootlier issue 2 similarly has a local theme, but a rather different focus . . .

. . . the landscape around my home.

Landscape photography can be an odd discipline. It’s tempting for the photographer to seek out iconic subjects or locations, to travel far and wide in the hope of collecting “that shot”. But do we, in our hunt for the perfect “capture”, risk overlooking the visual interest of the spaces and stories that surround us every day? For me, the most fulfilling landscape photography often communicates a sense of intimacy, or familiarity: a distinctive personal connection, or a sense of place.

I’m lucky in that I live in Carbeth — a fantastic location, halfway between Glasgow and the Highlands (now incidentally known to many of you from Kate’s popular designs of that name). This part of Scotland has proud associations with open access and the outdoor movement. It’s a place familiar to thousands of people from all over the world who, each year, undertake epic pedestrian journeys on the John Muir Way and West Highland Way. And it’s also a spot beloved of countless local runners, cyclists, walkers and hutters of all ages, who here happily exchange the city for the country. Carbeth is a space of leisure, but it’s a working landscape too: a place of grazing and planting, growing and rearing, a landscape shaped by the interests of numerous farms and small businesses as well as those of larger estates. In spring, the songs of cuckoos and curlews ring out over muir and woodland, but these habitats are now threatened by the intensive forestry favoured by some of those who own this land.

Though I love the outdoors, I was born and raised in cities. When I first came to Carbeth, I was almost equally perturbed as I was fascinated by the daily and seasonal rhythms, by the rapidly shifting light, by the unfamiliar sounds and sensations of my new rural home. My camera became a tool with which I immersed myself in my environment, and through it I came to develop a deeper understanding of my locale. Every image in this portfolio was made within a mile or two of where I live: my home range, if you like.

Ranging about my home range with my camera, I soon found that there was something enormously rewarding in documenting my ever-changing local landscape. I began to see things differently, I started to look more attentively, and I was interested to discover that I never experienced my restricted range as any sort of limit. On the contrary, the idea of range itself acted as a prompt that stimulated my creativity, my ideas and my aesthetic. Ranging became a meditative act as I slowly explored, recorded and reflected upon changes in the light or the weather; upon alterations in the environment; upon the movement of time itself. In selecting the images to include in this collection, this sense of range as meditative focus has often been at the forefront of my mind.

Range has frequently seen me return to the same subjects time and time again; the same oak tree, golden with autumnal foliage, then stark with black bark against the white snow; the skies above the Campsie Fells, dark and starless one night, alive with the green glow of the Northern Lights the next. Occasionally, I am asked if I ever get bored of repeatedly photographing the same subjects. I reply that I do not, because such subjects are, in fact, never the same.

1. the area covered by, or included in, something.
2. the scope of a person’s knowledge or abilities.
3. a set of different things of the same general type.
4. the distance between a viewer and subject.
5. an area of open land for grazing.
1. to vary between specified limits.
2. to travel or wander over a wide area.

To celebrate the launch of Ootlier 2: Range I have produced a small number of limited edition fine art prints. These fine art, or Giclee, prints have been produced at home, by hand, by me using pigment based inks on exhibition quality, 100% acid-free archival textured matt paper. This results in a velvety, painterly finish and superior light-fastness and stability. Each print is also hand-embossed and signed by myself. This print is run limited to just 53 prints, and as a thank you for your support, the first 50 orders of Ootlier 2: Range will each receive a complimentary hand-made print.

You can now find Ootlier 2: Range in the shop.

Thanks for reading!