I read about Ackroyd in connection with some collaboration with Robert Macfarlane some time last year, he's been on the edge of my mind ever since. Ackroyd has been travelling the edges of the British isles snatching images as he goes - it's not much of an explanation for what he does - google his work to get a better idea, but as most the images I've been looking at are based on sketches taken quickly from the deck of a boat snatched is the best word I can think of. I'm desperate to see some of these images off the screen and on a wall somewhere. The Shetland series is being exhibited in London at the moment so I'm hoping to organise myself down there in time to catch them. I'm also quietly coveting a print but that represents a lot of un-bought books.
'A Shetland Notebook' is a Royal Academy publication, a slightly annoying format for fitting on a shelf, and an absolute delight. I'm guessing the format is tied to the shape of sketch books that Ackroyd uses, I hope it is because there's a romance about that which attracts me. I wanted this book for my Shetland library (which is in reality a small collection) and because it's always interesting to see a place you know through the eyes of another person. What I'm actually looking at is far more than I hoped for.
The thing that I find really exciting about this notebook is that it's just that; a notebook. These aren't highly finished sketches but images taken in haste that sometimes only hint at the ostensible subject but they have a magic about them, some combination of mood and moment, light and mass. Something. How is it that the roughest of sketches can capture a place more uniquely and completely than a photograph? There is another thing I really like about this book, a silly thing really, but many if the pages that don't have sketches on them have smudges and watercolour marks - facsimiles of the original sketchbooks presumably, it's unexpectedly pleasing.