Share Button

From the Land cover

From the Land Comes the Cloth

Ian Lawson

Ian Lawson Books, Lake District, 2015


This could hardly be called a “hidden” photobook at all, dressed in bright blue boards and weighing in at over 4 kg!

This is Ian Lawson’s massive, decade-long document of Harris Tweed, the only fabric to have its own Act of Parliament, which defines it thus: “Harris Tweed means a tweed which has been woven by the islanders at their own homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the islands of Harris, Lewis, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra and their several purtenances (The Outer Hebrides) and made from pure virgin wool, dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”

The book’s first section, Journal, comprises Lawson’s notes with photographs documenting life on the islands, but it is the second section Elements, I find the more interesting, where in facing pages Lawson compares the landscape’s colours and textures with those of the fabric itself.

Suddenly that rough, scratchy cloth makes perfect sense.

Lawson works with a digital Hasselblad which explains the hyper-real level of detail crowding each image, though the photographs feel too suffused with saturated colour to be real, many looking more like paintings.

When not part of the current display, you can find it here: folio HD9909.T93L2 (industries – land use – labour – textile industries –fibres and wool)



Come along to the Main Library on North Street to take a look for yourself. This book is part of The Hidden Photobooks display which is running from 1 – 30 September and is part of the St Andrews Photography Festival. Everyone is welcome and the event is free. Check out the Library Instagram for photographs Marcus has chosen from his own work to accompany these blog posts. 

The Hidden Photobooks: From the Land Comes the Cloth
Tagged on:
%d bloggers like this: