Nicky Bird

Travelling the Archive

Travelling the Archive (2015-2016)

Travelling the Archive: Uncovering Memory in Kyleakin with the Joan Wilcock Collection centred on over 400 35mm Kodachrome slides taken from 1959 to 1973 by an English tourist, Joan Wilcock (1895-1994). A frequent visitor to the Isle of Skye, Miss Wilcock knew the people and children she photographed. Gifted to the Highland Council Archive in 2008, the collection now forms a portrait of an island community before the bridge to the mainland was built and the famous Skye ferry ceased to operate, changing the geography and the way of life in Kyleakin.

Commissioned by Atlas Arts, Isle of Skye, Travelling the Archive is my largest collaboration to date, involving the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre and the Kyleakin Local History Society. The notion of ‘travelling the archive’ is both practical and evocative. In terms of official archives, people typically travel to them literally or virtually, rather than such archives physically coming to them. In this project, the collection was taken from the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre in Portree to Kyleakin in a number of ways, including analogue 35mm slide shows and digital outdoor projections. By bringing together the past and present in these ways, Travelling the Archive encounters questions of shared heritage, living memory and lived experience.

All images from the Joan Wilcock Collection used courtesy of the Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre.

slide19

slide11

slide12

slide15


A guidebook with a difference

The above link will take you to the souvenir booklet of the project. Featuring twenty-two of Miss Wilcock’s images, the reader is taken on a memory walk around Kyleakin, meeting some of the people she photographed, and others who have special connections to the people and places in her images.

Also available on the ATLAS and Kyleakin Local History Society websites.


For more about the project’s process see Atlas Arts: Travelling the Archive // Sharing Heritage

BBC News: Archive images of Skye in new arts project, images by photographer Colin Hattersley


Travelling the Archive, 2016

Multiple site-specific life-size projections
2 outdoor photo-banners
1 outdoor photo-vinyl banner
Full colour booklet, 38 pages
Memory walk postcard


Commissioned by ATLAS Arts, Isle of Skye
In collaboration with Kyleakin Local History Society & Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

Supported by
Creative Scotland
The National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund
The Highland Council


Thanks to:

ATLAS Director & Curator: Emma Nicolson
Project Management: Rosie Somerville

Kyleakin Local History Society: Caroline Clouston (Chairperson); John Robertson (Vice Chairperson), Stuart Taylor (Secretary), Anna Belle Robertson (Treasurer); Margaret Macrae, Hector Grant, Calum MacAskill, Hugh Davies, Roddy Morrison, Angus MacLennan (Committee Members).

Sandi Beatson, Ian Montgomery and Ruth Macdougall
Anne MacDonald Archivist, Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
Will Maclean MBE RSA

The many volunteers who have supported the research, the production of the exhibition and programme of activities

Eilean Bàn Trust
Kyleakin Community Council
Kyleakin Connections