“I didn’t want to just go out and do the Tartan biscuit tin, rose-tinted glasses view of the island”.
John Maher is perhaps best known as the former drummer of English punk band ‘Buzzcocks’. “Ever fallen in love with someone? Ever fallen in love….”. Maher has been living on the Isle of Harris since 2002. It has taken him seven years to discover how to photograph the islands in a style that interested him. Self taught and inspired by the work of Troy Paiva’s light painting and night photography, Maher began taking photographs on clear nights under a full moon. “With night photography I can revisit those same subjects and scenes I see every day and turn them into something the human eye can never record.” says John.
It was when Maher was out shooting dilapidated buildings at night that he got the idea for his project, “Nobody’s Home”.
Most of these buildings were family homes, abandoned to the elements on these remote Scottish islands because relatives cannot bear to sell them. The haunting images, show the deteriorated properties untouched and unchanged since the day the owner died and most have become memorials to the dead of the islands.
These images evoke nostalgia, traces of past lives. In looking at the pictures I feel as though I am intruding in to the homes and lives of families – past and present. Surely there are relatives or next generation who hold some rights to the properties? Maher has composed the shots in a way that places the viewer directly into the room, in amongst personal possessions. Human habitation left long ago and now nature is taking a hold.
One wonders why belongings were not removed when inhabitants moved out, or if they died at home, why family and friends did not clear everything away. It is as though the homes have morphed into shrines. According to Italian architect Luigi Moretti, “The house is the only space that can disengage us from daily life and from its great or trivial adventures”. (2).
1. http://www.theflyingmonkblog.co.uk/tv/ (STV News October 2013).
2. http://www.domusweb.it/en/from-the archive/2016/08/25/luigi_moretti_architect.