New Acquisitions: Catching the Tide

A salmon netter hauls salmon from a 'jumper' net at low tide on the sands at Kinnaber, Angus during a May hailstorm. The once-thriving Scottish salmon netting industry fell into decline in the 1970s and 1980s when the numbers of fish caught reduced due to environmental and economic reasons. By 2007, only a handful of men still caught wild salmon and sea trout using traditional methods, mainly for export to the Continent. Catching the Tide ref. 33/00/10 Catching the Tide was a long-term project carried out by photographer Colin McPherson to document salmon net fishing in Scotland. McPherson began his work in 1995 and the project continued until 2007 during and after which the photography was exhibited in Scotland and published worldwide. In 2016, the Scottish Government imposed a three-year moratorium on coastal net fishing for salmon and sea trout, forcing most of the few remaining netting stations to close.

Hailstones, Kinnaber, by Colin McPherson, 2000. ©Colin McPherson. ID: CtT-1

Last weekend we were delighted to receive officially our Catching the Tide acquisition from photographer Colin McPherson. From the moment we first saw this iconic image,we knew this series of photographs was an important and striking record of a disappearing industry.

Handing over the prints

Handing over the prints

Catching the Tide has been a longterm project for McPherson, who first encountered salmon-net fishermen along the Angus coast in 1995. His resulting photographs have been collected as beautiful works of art by galleries and museums around the world.

Finishing the Fly Net, Boddin, by Colin McPherson, 2000. ©Colin McPherson. ID: CtT-7

Finishing the Fly Net, Boddin, by Colin McPherson, 2000. ©Colin McPherson. ID: CtT-7

The Library’s Special Collections Division approached McPherson last year when Rachel Nordstrom was curating the exhibition ‘Scotland Through The Lens: 175 years of documentary photography’. She wanted to round out the story of documenting the livelihood of fisher folk in Scotland right up to the 21st century. The resulting seven images we acquired are not only beautiful photographs to add to our contemporary collections, but are also an important part of a national historical record -last year the moratorium on coastal net fishing was extended for a further three years and could well spell the end of this way of life.

A sneak preview of the prints

A sneak preview of the prints

Two of the images can still be seen as part of an exhibition at The Gateway Galleries at The North Haugh in St Andrews, which has been extended until April 2017. The catalogue records and further information in our database can be found online here.

As part of McPherson’s project a documentary film was made to take a closer look at the inspiration behind the works. Viewed alongside the collection, it provides an insightful perspective on not only the work of net fishermen along the coast, but also on McPherson’s own efforts as he records these moments on film – sometimes getting a wee bit wet along the way.

McPherson has also made a short video showing the production of  prints from his original negatives – made on St Andrews Day last year. The film serves as an instructive insight into McPherson’s darkroom processes, and perfectly complements our new acquisitions.

Rachel Nordstrom
Photographic Collections Manager

One response to “New Acquisitions: Catching the Tide

  1. Good Morning. I was very interested to see your new acquisition from Colin Mcpherson. Back in the 17/18th C our Brown family ancestors lived at Bodin and caught and processed the salmon. It is nice to see a modern day photo and to know it still continues today. Very interesting, thankyou. Kind regards , Sue

    This mail has been sent to you from S.J.Howard, Restoration Bookbinding & Conservation Services. Sent from my iPhone

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