Wild Space: Portraits of the Edge

Pitlochry visitor centre reopening supported by thoughtful exhibition of photography and poetry

Portraits of the edge 2020   denis mollison detail

Our Pitlochry Wild Space visitor centre reopened to the public at the end of August, after five months of lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The August Bank Holiday weekend also saw the launch of Portraits of the Edge – a joint exhibition between a founder of John Muir Trust, Denis Mollison, and poet Roderick Manson in the centre’s Alan Reece Gallery.

The photos were taken as part of a project to visit all the beaches of the farthest corner of mainland Scotland, the Northwest Highlands Geopark. They explore the attraction of beaches through their elements and their details: water, light and stone, and the creatures that live on or visit a beach. Here the ocean refreshes and reshapes the land’s edge twice a day, leaving it ready for another day of recreation and imagination.

Denis’ exhibition was first shown in Wild Space in July 2019 where it inspired Roderick Manson to write a poem in response to each picture. Denis said: The photos themselves are abstract, trying to let the beauty of nature speak for itself. Roderick’s 39 poems complement - or you might say subvert - this approach by interpreting that beauty through human eyes.”

The artist

Denis Mollison has been taking photos of wild places for many years, including selections used for fundraising for the John Muir Trust’s early property purchases. He was one of the four founders of the Trust, and has been active in several other conservation organisations. He is currently co-organising a research programme in Cambridge on modelling the pandemic, but hopes to get back to Assynt soon.

The poet

Roderick Manson has been visiting Scotland’s wild places for many years, but only started writing poems in 2007. Each is a response to a moment or sequence thereof, always striving to reflect that moment rather than to impose his own ‘message’ on it. Some of these poems were included in his short-listed entry for the 2020 Erbacce Prize. He has whiled away the pandemic by taking a virtual walk from Land’s End to Duncansby Head.