Photography exhibition at The Green Well of Scotland showcases rural community

A photographic exhibition featuring the villagers of Carsphairn parish at the mysterious Green Well of Scotland is now open until September.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 12:40 pm
Bill Holmes looks at his portrait
Bill Holmes looks at his portrait

Award winning photographer Alicia Bruce captured the local community as it emerged from the unprecedented experience of a national lockdown in May.

The images have now been put on display outside the Carsphairn Heritage Centre and The Green Well of Scotland.

The project has been produced by Knockengorroch Community Interest Company and supported by Dumfries and Galloway Regional Arts Fund and EventScotland through Scotland’s Events Recovery Fund.

Ben Ade and his family

In all 180 members of the local community were invited to be photographed at the historic Galloway beauty spot in, that is steeped in folklore.

Among those who took part was Ben Ade, an engineer from Carsphairn.

He said: “It feels like quite a pivotal point in the history of Carsphairn, emerging from such a large scale pandemic and also with the area already suffering heavily from depopulation of younger generations.

“It will be interesting for future folk to look back on heritage pictures like these and see what sort of characters lived around Carsphairn in 2021.

Many of those featured in the exhibition turned out for the launch event - pic: Bob Geddes

“The local environment has been extremely important to us during lockdown, I wouldn’t want to be locked down anywhere else.”

The Green Well of Scotland sits just off the A713, by a popular walker’s route, next to the Water of Deugh (Dee) at the foot of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn.

This 30-foot diameter pool in the middle of a solid rock offers a wealth of cultural and historical significance.

Historical sources suggest it had been well visited for hundreds of years and is even believed to be one of the Fons Scotiae mentioned in Saint Columba’s biography.

Photographer Alicia Bruce captured the local community

There are many tall tales surrounding the landmark, including stories of witches, Covenanters, healing lore and hidden treasure.

The site is situated near Knockengorroch, where the world-renowned greenfield festival takes place each year.

Katch Holmes, Knockengorroch Festival co-producer, who grew up in the community, is behind the initiative.

She said: “I am very excited to be working on a project that incorporates the Green Well of Scotland, a place that I have grown up beside and long been fascinated with.

“I hope that the portraitees enjoy the experience of being immortalised, representing the community during this memorable time in history and being showcased at this cultural site forever in the Carsphairn archives.

"I also hope that visitors to the region enjoy discovering this very special place.”

Alicia has photographs held in several public collections including National Galleries of Scotland, University of St Andrews, RSA and UK Parliament.

She said: "It was such a joy meeting and making portraits of so many of Carsphairn folk at The Green Well of Scotland.

“We made pictures in all weather conditions from high winds to hot sun to heavy rain and enjoyed the ever-changing light and landscape in this magical spot.

"I enjoyed hearing about folks connections to the well. At some points it got quite spiritual and uncanny and often brought out the romantic bond in couples.

"I loved seeing the gestures and responses unfold as I made the portraits with them all.”

“I hope that through the making of these portraits, connections will be strengthened between local residents and this forgotten gem.”

The project incorporates photography, the natural and historical environment, and cultural heritage.

The Green Well of Scotland is a site of much interest to archaeologists, historians and walkers both professional and amateur.

In is book A History of Galloway: 1841, the Rev W Mackenzie detailed how people at that time continued to wash their bodies with its waters as a remedy for scorbutic diseases.

Dr Peter Hewitt of Dumfries and Galloway Museums, said: “There are few wells that can boast a richer folklore than the Green Well of Scotland.

“Tucked away in a northern part of Galloway, the well is seemingly ageless and bottomless.

"Here you will find healing lore, devil lore, stories of witches and avian guardians, lairds, Covenanters and a fugitive ‘alchemist’.

“Above all the Green Well is a place of beauty, a place where the regions’ cultural memory is stored like a battery.”

The event will instill pride in place and attract attendees from the local community as well as further afield.

The images generated by the project will be made available to Carsphairn Heritage Initiative for their archives so they may serve as a historical document of a community at an unprecedented time in history.

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