Shetland: A Love Story

Regular price £20.00

Shetland: A Love Story brings to life a three-year courtship that took place almost entirely by letter in the mid 19th century. The touching correspondence between Robert Jamieson and Barbara Laing is accompanied by Shetlander Mark Sinclair’s wonderfully evocative photographs. Robert was the schoolmaster at Sandness and Barbara was the daughter of the schoolmaster at Gulberwick. They were only 30 miles apart, but with no roads and because of their busy lives, they were only able to meet a few times during the correspondence, between 1858 and their marriage in 1861. The letters tell the story of their work as teachers and farmers, his duties as postmaster and village scribe, their leisure and entertainment, local customs and events. Their simple but hard lives were regulated by the landscape, the weather and the seasons. They are reflected in Mark Sinclair’s images, reminiscent in their stark beauty of Fay Godwin and Ansel Adams. Through Mark’s lens he observes Shetland’s timeless landscape very much as it would have appeared to Robert and Barbara. Occasionally, the modern world is excluded deliberately. Mark waited a long time for a sheep to move its leg and cover up a distant telegraph pole, and an unusual angle for the shot of Scalloway Castle leaves out all the modern clutter and reflects Robert’s words. Kay Wheatcroft has edited her greatgrandparents’ love letters to match the style of Mark’s photography, paring them down, distilling them, creating an art book as well as a piece of social history. There is poetry in the simplicity of their lives. The letters are snapshots of those lives, and the photos are portraits of the land that Robert and Barbara loved.