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STROMA, book launch at Caithness Horizons

Submitted by George Gunn

7th June 2011

Photograph of STROMA, book launch at Caithness Horizons

"Leaving school I went to sea. Island life resembled that of a ship in many ways." - Sutherland Manson, native of Stroma.

It is rare for three artists in different disciplines to come together to capture a moment in time. This then is STROMA; a unique collection of stunning photography from Roddy Ritchie who is one of the best photographers in Scotland; an Ode to STROMA by George Gunn who is one of Scotland's most lyric poets; and a thought provoking and optimistic assessment of the islands past, present and future from Ali Murray whose unique insights are well known from his previous book, "On The Trail of the Real Macbeth, King of Alba".

STROMA is the only island Caithness can lay claim to and lies less than a mile from the north mainland and east of John O Groats. It is roughly two and a half miles long and a half mile wide and sits in the middle of The Pentland Firth which has the second fastest tidal currents in the world. Known to the Vikings as "the island in the stream" STROMA has been inhabited for over five thousand years yet the last inhabitants left in 1962. Seven of those who left give their impressions and memories of their lives on STROMA where life was sustained by the sea as much as it was by the land.

STROMA is a revelationary artistic impression of the island of STROMA as well as a sober statement about its present condition. Located as it is between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east STROMA has always held an important strategic position in the middle of this ancient trade route and as the Industrial Revolution progressed and sail gave way to steam so too did STROMA'S fortunes rise and fall. With the two World Wars in the twentieth century came the decades of crisis for STROMA as many men left to join the navy and never came back. The population fell accordingly and after 1945 began to haemorrhage terminally. Today no-one lives on STROMA.

This book of photographs, poetry and prose offers an alternative and imaginative look at STROMA'S present and possible future. With the strong ebb and flow tides which swirl around her shores daily offering a potential renaissance in STROMA'S economic fortunes who's to say the island will not again hear children's voices on their way to school? Renewable energy and the future needs of our broader society could pick up the human heart beat of this fascinating and beautiful island.

STROMA will be launched at Caithness Horizons, Thurso, Caithness at 5.30 pm on Tuesday 14th June, 2011.

Published by The Islands Book Trust, Living History, 20.00
ISBN: 978-1-907443-13-8

Photographs by Roddy Ritchie
Prose and Transcripts by Alastair Murray
Poetry by George Gunn

John Randall, The Islands Book Trust john.lemreway[AT]
tel 01851 880737

George Gunn (poet) peedie[AT]
tel 07751 778939

Ali Murray am[AT]
tel 07881 413395

Roddy Ritchie (photographer)
tel 01463 871659


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