Portrait of proud community
New photographic exhibition celebrates city’s long history with the sea
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.