Celebration of Orkney

Orkney: a Celebration of Light and Landscape. Photography by Iain Sarjeant, poetry by Pam Besant. The Orcadian (Kirkwall Press), £14.99.

This delightful book of photographs, coupled with some verse, depicts the best of Orkney and will be a wel­come gift to anyone who loves the isles.

Orkney, says Iain Sarjeant in his introduction, is a photographer’s dream. The isles have a sense of the past embedded in them, a dramatic coastal landscape, a strong creative tradition and a magical quality of light. What more could a photo­grapher want?

Sarjeant faced a dauting task following in the footsteps of re­nowned photographers such as Gunnie Moberg, but he has produced an outstanding collection.

The book is divided into three sections – echoes of the past, a meeting of oceans and island life.

Orkney abounds in relics of the past, of course, and there are de­pictions of sites such as Skara Brae, Maes Howe and the atmospheric Ring of Brodgar, this being snapped at different angles and at different times of day, making for completely contrasting scenes.

Orkney has a wartime past as well and there are beautiful photo­graphs of the world famous Italian chapel, built by prisoners of war.

The coastal scenery offers never-ending oppotunities for photography, and Sarjeant has captured its many aspects, including the Old Man of Hoy at sunset. This is complemented by Besant’s poem from Hoy, which starts: Storm threatens on Ward Hill overflowing the valley’s bowl but holds, leaving Rackwick yolk-lit, eerie, its colours against deep grey bold as a fable. Extreme close-up photographs of pebbles and seaweed are beautiful and so is a field of barley, which is accompanied by the poem: Graphic lines of fertile gold proclaim beauty is food; food beauty. Sheep, charming cottages and lanes and modern innovations such as solar panels feature in the final section of the book.


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