Photograph: Helmsdale Community Centre and Public Library, 2017
Find One Place
~Presented as part of The Museum of Loss and Renewal's event "Making Museums" at Timespan in Helmsdale.
1. The Village
Google Maps. They were telling us about the google trekker equipment that they have. Using it for a project about a meteor. That’s a pretty cool project. I’d like to have a go with one of them. It’s great tech but I’m worried about the monolithic map owned and authored by Google. That’s just the one story. We don’t work like that now. We’re aw poly-vocal int we?
I could probably make a lo fi manual google maps. All it really is is a bunch of photos you can scroll through eh? And in sequence, that’s quite similar to a digital/scanned version of an old Pilgrimage book, where you would “Armchair pilgrim” to the holy land from your monastery by tracing your finger. I have wee imagined trips on maps all the time. I looked at Helmsdale a lot before I got here.
I am actually on google maps - at the square in Huntly. That’s me - oan the record now. Those cars have passed me before so I must be on it somewhere else as well. I wish I knew where. I like the idea of being on it in different places. Turns out that the only place listed in the UK it is due to visit is Helmsdale, this month. Hope I see it and get on.
The library and community centre. Speaking to the woman. Libraries are different now. It’s changed. It’s a social space. What will it be in the future? (A museum, she suggests, a museum of books? I question?) I joined the library again when I lived in Glasgow. I really loved rediscovering that as a space. Langside Library. One day, some kids studying for exams got pizzas delivered. Off the record, the librarians were fine with it. I liked that. That was cool
This library is really welcoming. I seen one of those westerns I like. I haven’t read one in ages. I didn’t see any Gaelic books. What’s the script wi’ the Gaelic here? School kids have made Harry potter posters and the nursery kids have coloured in wizards. They are great. Listen to this...
MUST BE STRANGE AND SUSPICIOUS.
YOU NEED 5 YEARS EXPERIENCE.
£5 PER DAY.
APPLY IN WRITING TO
Kids are brilliant eh?
I wonder how many years experience I have of being strange and suspicious?
There must have been some big Harry Potter thing on recently. An anniversary? I dunno. Rachael sent me a picture of Uist dressed up like a Hagrid. That’s Robbie Coltrane. He’s Cracker to me... I saw him all the time when I worked at the Airport at the car park. Harry Potter kinda passed me by to be honest. Rachael likes it. We went to some of the sites on the west coast last year.
That makes me think about replicas. We went to that harry potter theme park in America last year. I am quite intrigued about theme parks and that sort of thing. I’d like to make work about it. It’s an odd landscape. I can’t suspend my disbelief sometimes. Who was that Dutch artist I seen in van Abbe? Johan Lennarts? I can’t remember - I should look that up.
Anyway, the thing that got to me there was that they’ve got double yellow lines in the British fashion that were impressively precise. Actually, that makes me think about when they shut George Square in Glasgow to film WWZ in 2011. They put up all these american signs and changed the street names. I had to cut across John F. Kennedy Avenue in Philadelphia to get from Duke Street to Central Station. That was about a 3000 mile diversion. In Dundee it’s quite hard to get from Perth Road to the other side of Lild on a bike. It’s not quite 3000 miles, but it’s possibly more irritating. Google tells me to use the pedestrian crossing. That means I have to make a decision… Blurs a boundary for me.
That A9 Bridge. it was put up in 1982. I’m from 1982. It’s my birthday today actually. I did a thing on my 29th Birthday where I ate fast food for the last time. I don’t really like fast food and I couldn’t mind the last time I had it, so I chose a day I’d remember and went and got a Big Mac. I made a video of it. It’s quite different from Andy Warhol’s video (his was a burger king...).
From the bridge you can see the Moray Coast and trace a line towards Aberdeenshire. A woman I met in the salmon bothy in Portsoy said that there are a lot of shared surnames between Caithness / Sutherland and Aberdeenshire (formerly historic Banffshire). I dunno how far along the coast you can see but that’s interesting. She said it was about fishing links and shipping. I think we see the sea as a border barrier now. I’m up north, at the end of the country. I am surprised by my desire to look southwards somehow.
The empty football pitch makes me think of the forest pitch piece in Dumfrieshire. There’s a scarecrow in the allotment. I felt like a scarecrow in that car park job. The guy said to me it was all about “presence in a space”. That’s a good thing to be aware of but a bit profound for a NMW job no? You learn how you stand when you do it for a 12 hour shift in the one spot. You also create a Richard Long like mark in the grass. I’m a pure stauner. I’m a pure scarecrow anaw.
2. The Museum
Arabella saying that the gallery is laid out from sea to village, it's like a line to hang the collection on. It’s unresolved here, but I like that. I like uncertainty. At the moment, the museum is telling the story of transition. Everything is shifting all the time. Emma said some interesting things about denying things a past as well as a future. I’d like to follow that up.
Wolf - Dalziel and Scullion’s film about the last wolf in this part of the world. They teach at the art school. I actually got a fright when I seen it. Anna told me that her dog is scared of the wolf. They’ve got taxidermied animals in the McManus. I spent some time looking at the fish one day. How do they do that? Do they just cast a replica and paint it up? I can’t decide if it would be very complicated or quite simple to stuff a fish, depends what you use. Sand? I’m somewhat amused by the idea of a fish filled with sand, lying at the bottom of the sea, anchored.
Croft Street is in the back end of the museum. It’s got dioramas and models of people in beds. It’s like a wee theme park in a way. The croft featured at the end of the museum is the one where I am staying. It’s an air bnb now. I like this link. They had to thatch the roof. We’re staying in the loft. It’s no longer thatched.
That sort of thing always makes me think of Burns’ house in Alloway. We went to the house recently. I went there once on my birthday. I was about 8. I have to admit, I was more interested about the subbuteo team I got in Ayr than the house. It was Celtic, St. Ettiene, and Yeovil Town. They all have the same strips. I’ve got a Yeovil strip to annoy my Dad. He says it doesn’t bother him cause Rangers played in hoops originally.
3. New collections for the museum.
To me the museum is two things - it’s kinda like a mirror for some stories and thoughts. It’s also the place where we go to make sense of fragments
Uncertainty. Does the museum struggle with uncertainty. I dunno if it does. It just moves at a different speed from me. That’s fine though.
Something for the collection? Well what is a collection? Let’s look at the word.
late 14c., "a gathering together,”, “a group of objects viewed as a whole”. From “iegere” (See Lecture)
From Latin “lectus” - past participle of “iegere”, to read, originally “to gather, collect, pick out, choose”.
Pit that in yer museum then.
Stuart McAdam, 2017