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En Noer, The Great Island

Megan Gallacher, a photographer based in Norfolk, seeks to connect people and places through her collections of photography. Read her contribution called 'En Noer' to Stories within Our Isles that evokes the life and culture on the Isles of Scilly, particularly capturing the local lives who have a deep connection to the landscape, many of whom leave an indelible mark on the land.

The word Ennor is a contraction of the Old Cornish, En Noer (Moer, mutated to Noer), meaning ‘the land’ or the ‘great island.’ En Noer encapsulates a series of images that depict the details of island life that go unnoticed within a tiny, rural community; an archipelago off the southwestern tip of Cornwall, The Isles of Scilly.

The aim of this work was to focus closely on the people and the marks they leave on the landscape, attempting to provide a small but timeless snapshot of life on the islands. I have always been fascinated by the way in which traces and marks that we as humans make can build up over time and evidence our history and existence within a place.

Due to the small-scaled nature of the place with a very limited population, these marks and traces build up and form multiple layers on top of each other over time, and perhaps are visually more evident than those made on the mainland. This is due to the tight-knit community, the islanders make sure to preserve their history that would possibly get lost in the mainland with its constant development and growth.

The images attempt to show a portrait of a place through landscapes, details and portraits of the people who contribute to the form of the land. The local fisherman, painter, potter, jeweler, gig boats and the flower farm were my main focuses. Celebrating craftsmanship, heritage and passion are values that I strive to document within my work as I feel particularly driven towards these traits. It has been so rewarding seeing how the local craftsmen have thrived over the years and made their own mark on the islands. The intention of this work was to also encourage the viewer to reflect on this sense of island tradition and highlight the importance of the close-knit community. I also wanted to explore both the rich past, and the present day. There is a clear distinction between the land and the sea in terms of the island’s history.

The main businesses surrounding the sea were the fishing and boating industries. The Pilot Gig Racing became a large part of island life, when gigs were a means of livelihood for the islanders for guidance for ships through the difficult local waters. In terms of the land, the businesses that thrived were local crafts and the flower farm industry. This business grew particularly when an islander sent a box of wild narcissi to Convent Garden market in 1879 and the buyers were so impressed the flower farming history emerged almost overnight. I’ve been visiting the Isles of Scilly since I was a very little girl. Over the years, it has become a family tradition. My mother first visited when she was seven years old with her parents and has followed that same tradition through the years, bringing myself and my twin brother every year.

It truly is the magical combination of both the people and the landscape that make the Islands so inspiring for me. The two sit very happily hand in hand.


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