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Last updated - July 2019

"East of Illiswilgig, West of Hanjague - the sea in Scilly"
John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, Oxford
3rd August - 13th September 2019

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Illiswilgig is towards the West of the Isles of Scilly, while Hanjague is at the Eastern end. Both are uninhabited rocky outcrops, with nesting seabirds as the main residents. The photographs, as the exhibition title implies, are of the places in between, which generally have much more English sounding names, such as Droppy Nose Point, Kettle, Popplestones, Badplace Hill and Little Cheese Rock (to name a few).

The photographs show the variety of moods and colours of the sea in the islands. My photography is often minimalist and my influences are from painting and printmaking rather than conventional photography, but it aims to please and uplft rather than challenge.

The Isles of Scilly have a special quality of light. It's influenced by the remoteness of the islands allowing so much light to be reflected by the sea, the clarity of the water, and the presence of white sand and seaweed that reflects light back up again from the shallow sea beds. While Scilly is way out into the Atlantic Ocean the outer rocks and islands shelter the sea between the islands and the water often has an almost treacly look - at other times glittering - it is seldom grey!

The exhibition is in the Corridor Gallery in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. It runs from Saturday 3rd August to Friday 13th September). The hospital is basically open all the time, but it's very much easier to find a parking space outside 'nine to five' hours. The gallery is in the main corridor of the main building on "Level 2" - the floor which you enter from the old main entrance. It's very close to the League of Friends Cafe. Reception staff should be able to direct you. See Finding the Exhibition for a hopefully helpful map.

1963
West from Bryher, late afternoon

1966
The Eastern Isles from Tresco, morning

 
 

I've loved the Isles of Scilly since I first went there in the 1980s, especially the smaller islands. This exhibition is the result of visits in 2018 and 2019, when I was able to explore the 'off islands' of Bryher, Tresco, St Martins and Samson.

In fine weather the islands are incredibly photogenic - as also in other weathers. But as Richard Pearce, an artist who lives and works on Bryher wrote:
"We are surrounded by vast reaches of indigo, cobalt, cerulean, turquoise, deepest marine, palest sapphire ... endless blue.
I do paint the grey days. People don't like them so much."

Sunny days do make for better feelings, and I've concentrated on them here

1861
Indigo to turquoise in the sea, Isles of Scilly

1863
Stirred waters, Hell Bay, Bryher, Scilly

 
 

We stayed on Bryher and never really felt the need to travel even to the other nearby islands.
As Gracie Jenkins, the narrator in Michael Morpurgo's "Why the whales came" said of Bryher
"... After all, the island was over a mile long and half a mile across at its widest. We could roam free over more than half of it and that had always been enough."
That may sound odd (or even wrongly written) to many people. Admittedly Gracie was ten years old at the time, but the island packs a lot into a very small area.

We did visit other islands - St Martin's, Tresco, and Samson, so these photos are of a variety of places. They concentrate on the water and the sky, but they wouldn't be the same without the white beaches, the soft grassy dunes, and rugged saw tooth islands and rocks.

1874
Rocks between Tresco and St Martin's, afternoon haze
1964
From Par Beach, St Martin's

 
 

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© Gordon Stokes, 2019