Home » FLOW Photofest 2021 – LEGACY

FLOW Photofest 2021 – LEGACY

Thomas Joshua Cooper,  Flannery O’Kafka and Frances Scott

FLOW Photofest 2021, the biennial international photography festival across the Highlands & Islands and Moray, has the theme of LEGACY in 2021, and work will be on show from Fort William to Kirkwall and Elgin to the Isle of Lewis.  FLOW Photofest showcases photography from the North by photographers in the North, selecting work from around the Arctic periphery and the wider northern latitudes. #FLOWPhotofest2021


4 September – 16 October 2021
Main Art Gallery
Small Art Gallery

Thomas Joshua Cooper
Desire Lines: A Calendar of Caledonian Saints; pictures from the North

Headlining the Festival this year is a new body of 25 handprinted photographs by Professor Thomas Joshua Cooper of Glasgow School of Art in collaboration with Catherine Mooney. In their first project Cooper worked as visual site interpreter and Mooney as guide. They made a hodological exploration of places associated with early Celtic Saints  – births, deaths, lives and practices – to make the pictures in site specific locations. The pictures are a visceral response to the interior of mythical Caledonia; a visual remapping of the familiar. The images are lyrical and even joyful and Scotland is rediscovered as a place of great richness and beauty.

The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture considers Cooper “amongst the premier contemporary landscape photographers” In 2014, Bella Bathurst writes of Cooper that “he made a series of vows. One, he would only photograph landscape. Two, he would use only black & white film. Three, he would use only one camera and one lens. And four, in each place, he would only ever make one exposure”.  Critically, for Cooper photographs are not ‘taken’, they are made.  The act of ‘making’, is fundamental to his practice and each image is not only carefully considered when composed and exposed, but is hand printed by him in his darkroom in marathon sessions in which it can take up to a week to create a fine print.  As a consequence of his vow, he does not photograph anything else, family, holidays, or any other event.    The Ingleby Gallery writes of his practice:

“The capturing of any one image can involve days, weeks and months of preparation, arduous travel and considerable efforts to achieve. The locations are found on a map, tracked down and then photographed, each place the subject of a single negative taken with a weighty antique field camera. They are meditative, almost philosophical images, exquisitely printed by the artist in the 19th century manner with layers of silver and gold chloride. In each place the geography may not be readily identifiable, the image on cusp of dissolving into abstraction.”
Image: St Marion by Thomas Joshua Cooper

Main Art Gallery


Flannery O’Kafka

Also showing is work by Flannery O’Kafka , a graduate of Glasgow School of Art and ex- student of Thomas Joshua Cooper.   She describes her work as combining “her interest in museum exhibits, amateur curators and outsider collectors with personal images of her birth family, adoptive family and her own five children:”

‘Working within the medium of amateur museums, snapshot photography, and liturgical call and response, I’m constructing a fractured family album that hangs somewhere between an emotional document and a fiction. ’ In the tradition of Roland Barthes’ Mourning Diary, it’s a very public grief. A story of crippled minds and bodies, growing up playing house, and pregnant teenagers sent to convents by the cover of night. It’s a clumsy stab at bridging the disconnect between my possible (from birth) futures (including ones where my children are not in existence), my parallel histories, and the shadowy hinterland of suffering that lies between (and intersects) both of these.”
Image: The Artist


Main Art Gallery

Frances Scott

Winner of the FLOW Photofest Open Competition in 2019, Frances Scott will be exhibiting on the developing theme of “Undertow”, exploring Orcadian Coasts, tidelines and walking lines.  Frances also exhibited a smaller body of work about the A9 trunk road in XOKO Bakehouse in Inverness last month as part of FLOW Photofest.  This was linked with an exhibition on the Tolbooth Stirling.
Image: Wire II, North Ronaldsay, from the series “Undertow” by Frances Scott 


Small Art Gallery