Does wilderness still exist today? A wild place’s characteristic can be defined as being: An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region. Judging by such a definition, perhaps truly wild places no longer exist? Does our human imprint and presence on the landscape make a place less wild?
This body of work arose out of my love for getting away from the busyness of urban, suburban, or even semi-urban life, being in a place where the stars fill the sky and enjoying God’s creation without a man-made feature in sight! The collection aims to answer some of my questions surrounding the existence and authenticity of wilderness through personal experience and immersion within some of the remoter regions of the Scottish landscape.
The images are shot digitally and, as a collective and on an individual basis, aid in conveying something of the vastness, remoteness and timelessness of the landscapes I have immersed myself in. Being alone in the wild, be that locked in the chestnut gaze of a stag; breaking the misty stillness of Loch Bà with my paddle, embracing Storm Francis on the clifftops of Jura, feeling the pain of mile after mile of tussock grass or watching the colours deepen in a rainbow over Ben Lawers, I was eerily aware of my human presence and alienation within these seemingly untouched places, miles from any human habitations.
I have come to realise that wilderness doesn’t just exist in the vast and desolate scenes where I have spent days travelling into and across, but that it exists as close to home as just stepping out of our back doors. With this realisation I explored another dimension to the work and studied urban areas which are far from being marked as a ‘Wild Land Area’. The images of unkempt, ‘Wild’ urban settings aim to convey that mini habitats in un-mown gardens, or abandoned corners of a town, can be just as wild as that of Rannoch Moor.
As a result of the project, I feel wilderness in Scotland is very much in existence, whether that be in the grandeur and vastness of highland scenes or in the ruffage and decay of our autumnal gardens. I would suggest that each person’s idea of wilderness can differ from the next and that perhaps wilderness is a term we use which has a different meaning for every adventurer, depending on our personal circumstances, background or skill set, and our location. Even weather conditions and time spent within a place can have a bearing on our understanding of the word ‘wild’.