Por­trait of proud com­mu­nity

New pho­to­graphic ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brates city’s long his­tory with the sea

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY JON HEBDITCH

Stun­ning pho­to­graphs which doc­u­ment the of­ten tough lives of north-east fish­er­folk have been un­veiled in Aberdeen. The pho­to­graphic por­traits, by Lon­don-based Scot­tish pho­tog­ra­pher Paul Duke, of work­ing men and women from north-east Scot­land’s fish­ing com­mu­ni­ties were given pride of place in the city’s Mar­i­time Mu­seum yes­ter­day.

From his se­ries, At Sea, the im­ages doc­u­ment a time of sharp de­cline in the in­dus­try.

Duke pho­tographed his sub­jects in a por­ta­ble stu­dio set up in har­bours, ship­yards and fac­to­ries over a three-year pe­riod.

In June, a per­ma­nent me­mo­rial to the peo­ple who lived and worked in the north-east fish­ing in­dus­try was in­stalled at the mu­seum.

The bronze sculp­tures of a fish­er­man haul­ing a net be­side a woman hold­ing a creel now stands out­side the Shiprow site, which was cho­sen be­cause records from the 1100s show it was home to the city’s first wooden har­bour.

Last night Mr Duke said: “The haz­ards our fish­er­men face in our seas are real.

“I wanted to make noble por­traits across the whole com­mu­nity to ac­knowl­edge this shared strength, courage and spirit.

“At Sea in­vites us to have a con­ver­sa­tion with time, cel­e­brate an artis­tic lin­eage and our deep cul­tural and spir­i­tual re­la­tion­ship with the sea.”

His im­ages are com­ple­mented by his se­lec­tion of works from the col­lec­tion of Aberdeen art gallery and mu­se­ums by artists who have turned to the sea for in­spi­ra­tion, in­clud­ing John Bel­lany, Joan Eard­ley, Alexan­der Fraser and Prunella Clough.

Coun­cil cul­ture spokes­woman Marie Boul­ton said, “Paul Duke’s mag­nif­i­cent por­traits are part of a strong artis­tic lin­eage which cel­e­brates and doc­u­ments the sea and its com­mu­ni­ties.

“It’s par­tic­u­larly fit­ting that th­ese pow­er­ful im­ages of men and women work­ing in the fish­ing in­dus­try in the north-east of Scot­land to­day should be on dis­play at Aberdeen Mar­i­time Mu­seum, where we cel­e­brate our city’s long his­tory with the sea.”

Mr Duke was born and ed­u­cated in Ed­in­burgh and gained a Mas­ter of Arts de­gree with dis­tinc­tion from the Royal Col­lege of Art in Lon­don in 1989.

He lives and works be­tween Lon­don and Scot­land and has been teach­ing pho­tog­ra­phy for over 20 years. His work is held in pri­vate and pub­lic col­lec­tions, in­clud­ing that of Aberdeen Art Gallery.

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