Monday, 12 January 2009

Turning into a Highlander!

Here is just a very short message, typed in the library of Portree on the Scottish Isle of Skye, to explain the long silence on this blog. The explanation: I am turning into a Highlander! Very suddenly and very unexpectedly too, I have decided to migrate from the Netherlands to this beautiful island (one of the most beautiful places in Western Europe in my opinion) not long after returning from the last fieldwork period for Project Canada last September. I am still very busy with all the things that come with moving house and going from one country to another. I hope to get settled within a few weeks and find some time again to work on all the photos and on all the ideas for articles again then. Just looking outside the window of the library, I can see the mountains and I think that this area will be very inspiring for all the big changes that will transform Project Canada into The Larger Picture!

All the best and hopefully until soon with more news!


Jeroen said...

I guess you'l have plenty of photo opportunities there. Was that the reason why you decided to live there?

Best of luck!

Arthur Sevestre said...

Hi Jeroen,

Yeah, certainly photo opportunities abound here! Unfortunately, due to having to settle down a bit first and because there are some personal matters preoccupying me right now, I haven't been out for a serious photo shoot yet. One of these days, that should change! One of the goals I have here is to start arranging photo workshops. The island is absolutely ideal for it with some of the most beautiful scenery of Western Europe!

The reason... that's not an easy one to answer in fact. It starts with me having had the feeling for years now that I was done in the Netherlands, that there wasn't much binding me to it but friends and family. For my freelance photojournalism project, the Netherlands simply is not interesting enough anymore because the wilderness is almost completely gone and because very few people still feel any bond at all anymore with the world around them. Because of that, Canada seemed like the perfect place to go to. In fact, it still does and in a way Scotland is probably more a stepping stone towards Canada than a final destination.

To have wild land and wild species living in a fully functioning natural system around me is something I really yearn for. Not so much because I as a human think it's nice to have nature around me to enjoy when I feel like it, but because I yearn to feel the real bond between me and the world around me (not distinguishing between nature and humanity at all!!) firsthand, without it being obscured by what our culture has come up with to keep us occupied, like jobs that most people don't really care for but do because it is the norm and because you have to get some money in to survive and pay your vacation and some luxury (the pathetic would-be equivalents of freedom) every now and then. And without it being obscured by ridiculous chains between the products you use (people thinking that eggs are made in a factory for example) and their original source in the world around you, each step adding pressure to that world around you, on which everything ultimately depends.

In short, one could say I want to experience life leaving as many complicated misconceptions and deceipts that our culture provides us with behind, as far as that is possible at all. But more than just experiencing it for myself, I want to learn about it and share what I learn with others and destroy some of those misconceptions and deceipts! I want to help people think about some things that I think are very important, but that are not often thought about in our culture.

At any rate, I did not see a possibility for that in the Netherlands. Sure, there still are nice and beautiful parts in the Netherlands, but the term "wild" does not apply to them anymore. In Scotland things are slightly better, even though over 80% of the forests in Scotland have disappeared frighteningly recently and large parts of what remains are plantations for harvest. There definitely is more wildlife and even some ecosystems that sort of function relatively well. But still, many species that used to live here but decades or one or two centuries ago have disappeared because of the pressure that our development gave.

Canada, especially the Northern parts of it, does still have most of what I yearn for: true wild systems that still function on their own, without our having to interfere, control and manage it (which I think is one of those misconceptions anyways), and even peoples still living there that either very recently lived, or still more or less live being extremely conciously linked to the world around them. Or... maybe it actually is unconciously, because it is the natural way for them, because there is no alternative and so comes automatically. I would love to learn from those people and see if life away from our culture indeed is more true, as I suspect it is, than the average life within our culture..

Sorry for elaborating a bit more than you anticipated perhaps, but you opened Pandora's Box here!

More concrete and for the near future, the photo workshops are an important plan here. However, they will not only aim to just send people home with a few nice shots, but they will also inform people about the land they spend time in. Ideally, when I find out how to achieve it, they will really learn to see, meaning not only with their eyes, but also with their minds and hearts, and they will gain an understanding of what they see. It should make people really aware of the world around them!

The photoworkshops should only be a beginning though. The "raising of awareness" has been a main goal of mine since starting Project Canada, even since starting studying biology in 1995, and even from before that I think. I will find other ways to do it too. Naturally continuing "The Larger Picture" (what Project Canada is evolving into) is one of those ways and a very important one. There may very well be other ways soon too (that is the intention anyway!) and this blog, or one following it up as soon as possible, will keep people posted about that for sure.

Well, time flies when you're having fun. I'm afraid I'll have to take the dog out for his evening walk along the bay ;).

All the best! Thanks for stopping by!