Land of Bent Grass

In 1962, the photographer Paul Strand published Tir a Mhurain (trans. Land of Bent Grass), a collection of landscapes and portraits, the culmination of a visit to the Outer Hebrides in 1954. During the intervening years, the islands of Benbecula, South Uist and the remote outcrop of St. Kilda developed into the UK’s largest missile testing base, and it is thought drones are currently being tested there.

Not only does the area bear witness to its military involvement, but improving living standards have seen the traditional ‘black houses’ abandoned for the comforts of new builds. These old dwellings are reminders of yesteryear, when hardy crofters lived in tune with the very elements that now relentlessly destroy their old homes.

The images shown here are part of a larger body of work that explores the topography and environment of the area, as an examination of the changes that have occurred since Strand’s visit over sixty years ago.


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