One minute he’s battling the snow in upstate New York at Camp Tintype with the legendary American wet-plate photographer John Coffer (you know, as you do) and the next he’s being filmed in Edinburgh taking Rankin’s portrait (as…well, he does), for a forthcoming television programme to be aired in the UK in June on ITV.
Now, as a means of coping with the excitement of waiting for his turn to come up in the ever increasing queue of photographers from all over the globe who are anxious to spend some quality time with Mark Mask, Alex has taken to the hills. In style.
In fact, so much style, that the BBC decided to cover the story.
You can read their full coverage here, but since this would not be the Mask Series Blog without us trying to jump on every possible passing bandwagon, we also took some time out of Alex’s busy schedule by asking him more about his inspirations for this work.
“The series documents abandoned settlements such as Bronze Age cliff-top forts, and religious sites on the West coast of Ireland, which are pre-Christian for the most part. I have a great interest in archaeology, and in another life used to look after some of Scotland’s oldest known relics as a curator. It was while working with ancient artefacts that I read Seamus Heaney’s poem Belderg, his own reminiscence of a dig in County Mayo in Ireland. It inspired me to visit that lonely village, and make images there.”
Certainly, I would encourage anyone to read Belderg aloud if they can, ideally while looking at the image Alex has kindly allowed us to reproduce here. Although I am not a particularly religious person, I personally found the resonance between the two has something of a prayer within in it – and this was even before Alex explained to me that the sites themselves held religious significance.
Rather than reproduce the entire poem here, given the nature of the project Alex has embarked upon, a few lines in particular jumped off the page, so I’ll leave you with them:
He talked about persistence,
A congruence of lives,
How stubbed and cleared of stones,
His home accrued growth rings
Of iron, flint and bronze.