Club Meeting, Lynemouth Layerscapes with Iain Duncan - Tuesday 14th March 2017.

On Tuesday 14th March 2017, Morpeth Camera Club welcomed Guest Speaker, Iain Duncan a Northumberland based
professional photographer who presented a selection of his images of the ever changing coastline at Lynemouth Bay.
His talk entitled ‘Lynemouth Layerscapes’ was illustrated by images of waste materials which were deposited along
this part of the coast; a landscape now in the process of being eroded by the tides and revealing items which have
been deposited over many years.

Whilst walking along the coastline towards Cresswell, he began to notice the odd but photogenic dunes, the textures
and shapes, the layers of sediment & dead grass interspersed with plastic bags and relatively modern detritus. This
fascinated Iain who began researching the area and discovered that this was where the Lynemouth and Ellington pits
dumped their waste from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. On a 1960’s map, Iain also discovered that originally there was a
golf course on the site, which explained the layer of grass. Over the years the area became a dumping ground for
bricks, colliery belts, explosive bags, pipes, clothing and even a plastic pedal car, all of which formed fascinating
visual compositions. Iain spoke of this to archivists at Woodhorn Museum and was subsequently awarded Heritage
Lottery funding to explore this further. He discovered that the layers of grey strata were in fact grey ash from the
Alcan smelter which had been left in settling pools, and that after mining had finished, permission had been attained
to deposit rubbish to settle the area before grassing over under EEC recommendations.

Images of this man made area included layers of multi coloured orange and blue eroded bricks, concrete smoothed
by the sea and tumbles of multi coloured fishing ropes which Iain showed with enormous enthusiasm. They were
followed by very interesting images of puddles on the shore, which, when gently agitated, formed extraordinary
patterns and brought to the surface silky ivory and grey swirls originating from the ash and rich red colours of clay
and iron deposits. Iain said that he has to get ‘into the zone’ to view the surroundings on a deeper level, there is so
much to see.

Although we know better now environmentally, he made it clear that during his research he established that the
permissions had been obtained at the time. He wanted to visually catalogue this area as he estimated that, with
coastal erosion, within twelve years it could be all washed away. He wanted local people to have access to this
study and be proud of their heritage.

The second part of Iain’s talk featured his work using photogravure, a method of etching an image onto a coated
copper plates. Using pre-war half and quarter plate cameras, he showed the audience a wonderful selection of his
work in this medium; mysterious misty woodland images, backlit skeletal trees at Slaley Wood, morning light in
Borrowdale, ancient, primeval woodland scenes in Crannock Woods, morning mist on the Tyne and the atmospheric
Thornton Force together with the antique effect textures of Steel Rigg, Hadrian’s Wall. Iain explained that because
one could control how much ink was used and removed, gentle and dramatic areas could be created, foliage is
brought to life, ruins and stonework are dramatically enhanced, adding that photogravure was the only absolutely
stable process of photography.

Iain concluded the evening with examples of his macro work. After explaining his kit of lenses and extensions we
saw wonderful examples of macro photography of a simple agate key ring and a tumbled pebble. Exposed were
vibrant ridges and valleys of colour, sparkling crystals, crushed fossils of life that was, fossilised soft body tissue
forming unearthly shapes, circles and dots in red black and white which had been encased in a tiny pebble.

Throughout the evening Iain generously shared details of his techniques, and together with excellent examples of
his work and his enthusiastic commentary, Iain provided the club with a very memorable evening. Chairman, Glyn
Trueman, thanked Iain for a fascinating and inspiring presentation after which coffee was served.