Monday, 17 November 2008

Shags: Mother and Chick (George Mackay Brown / Gunnie Moberg)

© Gunnie Moberg (from Orkney: Pictures and Poems, 1996)

Shags: Mother and Chick

Young one,
You are to thank the artificer of birds always

You have not swan's beauty
Nor kestrel's cruel plummet and strike

Nor lark's broken
Scattering necklace of notes
Along the red west

Nor duck's clown procession
From barn to farmyard

Nor gull's blizzarding
After ploughs and fishing boats.

To be a cormorant
Is to sit on a sea rock
A lean dark tide-watcher;
Of passing interest
To photographer and poet only.

© George Mackay Brown (from Orkney: Pictures and Poems, 1996)

Gun Margoth ("Gunnie") Moberg and George Mackay Brown published several collaborations in the eighties, among them The Loom of Light in 1986, prior to the publication of Orkney: Pictures and Poems, in 1996.

Moberg, artist and photographer, was born in Göteborg, Sweden on 8 May 1941. She moved to Orkney with her husband Tam MacPhail in 1976. Her substantial body of work included photographs of the people of the islands, as well as landscape and wildlife photography. She died in Stromness, Orkney on 31 October 2007.
"Her pictures reflected the stark beauty of their wind-stripped landscapes and wave-scoured stones. In images of a ruined neolithic village outlined by driven snow, of white geese teetering across an expanse of grey ice, of a green field cut geometrically by the pencil-black shadow of a lighthouse and by a line of pale sheep glowing in the setting sun, she achieved an almost Japanese spareness of pattern and colour. (...) what marked her out was the way she caught the patterns made by treeless hillsides and jagged coastlines, and used the low, rapidly changing, northern light — a nightmare for most photographers — as confidently as a studio lamp." (Excerpts from The Times, November 9, 2007 obituary)

Brown was born on 17 October 1921 in Stromness, where he died on 13 April 1996. As poet, author and dramatist, he spent most of his life in his native islands and from them drew most of his inspiration. He was deeply interested in history and archaeology and immersed himself in the traditions and myths of the islands. He also drew upon the Icelandic Orkneyinga Saga, especially in novels and short stories. His collections of essays include reflections of life in the Orkneys and on the history of the islands.
Several books also collect those observations from the weekly column that he wrote in The Orcadian for several decades, thus he has become a chronicler of life of these Scottish islands in more than one way, in his battle against loss of traditions and memory. Even several official tourist guides to Stromness and the Orkney Islands boast texts of his. He left behind a wealth of work, more than 80 rewarding books, waiting to be explored and cherished.

GMB official author site (very good, has an exhaustive bibliography!)

The Independent - Obituary Gunnie Moberg

Shetland News - Obituary Gunnie Moberg

The Times Obituary - Gunnie Moberg

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