October 14, 2020

What happens when humans disappear?

Alice Macmillan, 30

I have been exploring the ancient landscape of the St Kilda archipelago in my work and am fascinated by the atmospheric quality of these ‘ghost’ islands where the now extinct population of native islanders left behind only shadows of their long presence in the area. The energy of the place is palpable as seabirds dart in and out of the ocean. The seascape is dominated by jagged shards of volcanic rock piercing through the turbulent waves. I wanted to capture some of this energy, creating a snapshot of a chaotic moment in nature. I aim to highlight the juxtaposition of this incredibly wild and inhospitable environment with the fragility of life and nature; a world where the indigenous human population became extinct but where the native wildlife now thrives. Once used by St Kildans to harvest seabirds, the sea stacks have been left to nature for almost 100 years and are now home to the world’s largest colony of breeding gannets. Human contact with the islands is limited and the wildlife, as a result of depopulation and conservation efforts, is now thriving. Is this what happens when nature reclaims the environment and humans disappear?

Stac Lee, 2020linocut89 x 48.5 cm