Alastair Cook | Edinburgh, Scotland

Short bio…

I am a Scottish artist working with lens-based media, principally as an analogue photographer concentrating on wet-plate collodion and film technology and as a filmmaker combining digital video and hand-developed 8mm and 16mm film-stock. I trained at the Glasgow School of Art then fled the country, returning after a dutiful spell in London and a more relaxed time in Amsterdam; I now live in Edinburgh. My work is rooted in place and the intrinsic connections between people, land and sea.

You shoot film because…

I always have. I was taken into the darkrooms at the Glasgow School of Art by my tutor in 1988. I have hand developed film and printed since then. It is part of my armoury as an artist.The work I have sent you is wet plate work, part of McArthur’s Store documentary project, a three year project (now in its second year) documenting the fishing community in Dunbar, a small town on the Eastern seaboard of Scotland. The project is being made using wet plate collodion, pinhole, 120 and 35mm film.

Your photography feels like…

The McArthur’s Store is a building from 1658 inhabited only by fishermen; wet plate collodion was originally chosen to compliment the film. There is an archive of early photography in Scotland recording the fishing industry: collodion has a way with peoples eyes and I decided not to record the men in action but to catch them being still, to use portraiture to slow them down, to quieten the noise of the harbour. Also, these tintypes were made within McArthur’s Store, in their environment.

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