Kathryn Polley

Spring Bulbs, Luss Hunting treasures on the shore But finding none of note I meandered carwards, one among our straggly crowd And spied a string of bulbs aloft. Rain-soaked, spattered and shattered They spoke to me of poetry: A melancholy parody of parties past Shades of bright nights and laughter Former glories and hangovers fading ‘til Forgotten. Would I have made a picture had they been intact? I doubt it. Whole, they’d sit among the gnomes and wagon wheels A bland brand statement of personality Bought in bulk from B&M. But broken, battered, clinging on against the odds Suffering soakings, limply accepting spider silks as Adornment They caught my eye as my eye is often caught By things left out to rot.

The Bird Beneath my bell jar, Behind my window, Up in my ivory tower I survey the idyll in front of me And claim that it heals That the soothing sight of sails, The sparkling lights of dawn and dusk, The sprinkles of children’s laughter Work their magic in support of The lies I tell myself about Who I am and what I want. I keep my distance; Don’t dig too far Nor look too close. For truth be told there are things That I don’t want to see; Things that I don’t want to feel. The bird, or perhaps it is an angel, Lies still at the shallow edge of the water And only seems to start to fly When the tide comes in.

I bought the plants because I thought they'd make me feel better but once I forgot to water them they were just another reminder of my failings.

The last time I went to Luss was probably in 2013 and it was chock full of tourists and I hated it which is probably why I haven't been back for so long. The sun and wind-whipped clouds however, made a spectacular photograph of Ben Lomond and honestly I was hoping for more of the same when I took my little gang from the Jean's Bothy Photography & Wellbeing Group for a photowalk there. The weather didn't cooperate - it was wet, cold and very grey, but on the plus side there were far fewer people to get in the way. I took this because it represented a more mundane, more everyday experience of the kind of beauty we are surrounded with but which rarely makes it onto a postcard. Muted. Dull even. The way I rather like it.

Dry your eyes. Language and the way we choose to use it makes for a very powerful tool which should be handled with care. It might not be a global thing but in my childhood, if you were accused of being 'soft' it meant you had no backbone, couldn't stand up for yourself, crumbled too easily in the face of adversity, were daft for being too easily upset over trivial things. It was not a compliment. It fostered the idea that it wasn't okay to admit to being upset. It encouraged concealment and deceit and discouraged conversation, healing, or sharing. I prefer to think of 'soft' as comforting, warming, reassuring, welcoming.

Nearly There, Yet - Nature's Peace Will Flow Into You As Sunshine Flows Into Trees (John Muir)

Nearly There, Yet - Between Every Two Pine Trees There Is A Door Leading To A New Way Of Life (John Muir)

Nearly There, Yet - The Stillness Is At Once Awful And Sublime

Album Familia - Body Language

Album Familia - Back Walks Cost One Pound. Up Front.

Album Familia - She's Singing Again

Album Familia - This Is What I Do Now

Crime & Punishment

I'm sure I've never been here before and I don't know if you ever came here for any reason but Dad, it felt like the ghost of you was in every yellow brick, in the smells that rose from hot corrugated metal and in the must shadows. In those moments when I sought the ghost of others, Americans, who lived and worked here, I only found you. I felt as if we shared memories here, this alien place where I came for the first time today. Impossible but almost tangible memories. This place hangs between what it used to be and what it may become and while it waits its fate and belongs to nowhere it seems as if yet other untethered realities rush in to fill the vacuum.

Kathryn Polley

Kathryn Polley’s photographic practice is based in the west coast of Scotland in Helensburgh.  She is concerned with the means by which we seek to construct and experience a sense of identity, exploring family, community and geography, as well as more broadly examining the notion of belonging.

I find myself looking at the territories we create, the boundaries we set for ourselves, the connections we seek and the things we choose to represent us. 

Much of my work is focused on my own observations as I navigate the experience of being an adult adoptee coming to terms with a sense of ‘lack’ in my own identity, and an affinity for the liminal, using photography as a therapeutic tool.  Health, both mental and physical, environmental and social concerns have provided the impetus for projects that consider our impact on the world around us and how we fit into it so that work which might begin on a very personal level becomes something much more universal.

A graduate of the Glasgow School of Art where she was a nominee for the school’s Newbery Medal, Polley was the first prizewinner in the 2017 Jill Todd Photographic Award for her work ‘Album Familia’.  Some of this work was published in the journal for the Scottish Society for the History of Photography.  Kathryn Polley has exhibited in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London.


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