It's the end of an era for photographer, Phil Gorton, as he swaps Skye for Forres.
After spending over a decade on the island – and creating the lasting legacy of the Art Skye guide booklet – Phil made the decision to leave the island late in 2018.
Phil, who has long been a member of the Skye and Lochalsh Arts and Crafts Association (SLACA), reminisces about his time on the island.
Arguably one of Phil's most time-consuming Skye projects was his work as editor of the Art Skye booklet. He notes: "The history of the Art Skye booklet goes back to the start of the millennium. There was a Council-funded leaflet for SLACA. When the funding stopped, a leaflet of their own was started." The format of the booklet evolved as the years went by, gradually blossoming into the glossy testament to talented islanders and invaluable guide to visitors that it is today. In 2018, work began on a leaflet to accompany the booklet.
The future of the booklet and leaflet is now in the capable hands of Peter McDermott. Peter reveals: "Phil and I worked on the booklet with a photographer named Alan Campbell, who is no longer with us, for around ten years. Now, we effectively have a new committee running SLACA. We have 20,000 leaflets and 12,000 booklets printed for this season. They're very much along the same lines as before. The format has always been successful."
Are there any changes planned for SLACA? Peter answers: "We are focussing quite heavily on social media. It's going to be one our developments this year. We also have a new chairperson, Karen Redfern from Skye Makers Gallery. She is very focussed on reviving the social side of the association and we are looking forward to that."
Even though Phil is no longer involved with SLACA, he is still making the most of his new surroundings and his creativity. "I have always been into photography since the start of college in 1967," he relates. "It's always been an art form that I've loved."
Phil still produces all of his work on film cameras, developing the rolls himself. "I've yet to set up the darkroom in my new house, but it's great fun and not too expensive to develop your own film," Phil explains.
Phil, who had been travelled from Skye to the Cairngorms to take photographs, is now in a far better location for accessing the national park. "I wasn't really working on Skye any more, and it seemed silly to be there and not utilise it," admits Phil. "It also became very difficult for me to get away to Cairngorms during the busy summers, so it just made sense to relocate."
The new surroundings have inspired new photographs. Phil reveals: "The current set of photographs is about patterns on the water. The Cairngorms is an entirely different sort of area to Skye – it's so big, I can go and get lost. Basically, I'm going to carry on doing what I was doing on Skye – photographing the landscape. I will miss Skye to a certain extent, but a lot of things just came together and it was time for me to go."
To view Phil's work, visit www.philgortonstudio.com or contact Russell Sherwood to arrange a visit to the Skyescape Gallery, 4 Altvaid, Harlosh.