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Article: Remote Scottish Postboxes - Text by Susie Parr

Remote Scottish Postboxes - Text by Susie Parr

Remote Scottish Postboxes - Text by Susie Parr

To celebrate the launch of pre-orders for Martin Parr's Remote Scottish Postboxes, we are giving you a sneak peak at the wonderful text that accompanies the photographs, written by Susie Parr.

If you're yet to pre-order your copy of Remote Scottish Postboxes, act fast, they're already half gone!

>>>pre-order now

Post boxes by Susie Parr

Being driven by Martin can be a very nerve wracking experience - he is always looking about, spotting things to photograph: a front garden, a shop window, a pile of home grown vegetables for sale by the side of the road.

When we lived in Ireland, it was Morris Minors. Back then, people didn’t trade in their old cars or take them to the scrapyard; they let them rust away in situ or sometimes found a use for them in the form of a hen coop, storage for animal feed, a compost heap. Martin became obsessed with spotting abandoned Morris Minors - scarcely recognisable shapes mouldering away in the middle of fields, under hedges, beside barns. We would be driving along and he would suddenly jam on the brakes, leap out, climb over a wall and start taking photos while I waited in the car. He was always oblivious to the astonishment of passers by.

I was reminded of those days when he began photographing post boxes in remote parts of Scotland. It would be the exact same thing: driving happily along, screeching to a halt, then a period of time spent looking for the best angle for the photograph,  while I drummed my fingers. Once he had worked out when the light would be right there was usually another phase of activity. So we would often have to deviate from our planned route, sometimes by miles, in order to get back to a particular post box at the right time of day, or in perfect weather conditions.

We spent many holidays exploring outlying Scottish islands and the far north western reaches of the mainland. Orkney, Shetland, Barra, Lewis, Islay - all these places have their unique character and distinctive beauty, as well as predictably unpredictable weather. Driving along, mile after mile, I would be happily looking out for otters and eagles, while Martin would be hoping to add to his collection of post boxes. Luckily, in these remote spots there was usually not much traffic, so when he spotted a likely candidate coming up he generally managed to stop safely.

On the Scottish islands, or in remote parts of the mainland, a bright day can make the colours of the landscape almost unbelievably intense: yellow, pink, mauve, green and turquoise, glowing and iridescent. But when the clouds roll up, the mists descend, and the light dims, colours soften and dull.

Bravely gleaming out against this ever-changing backdrop, the bright red of the post boxes is always the same: a cheery reminder of the red sweater that was always present in a John Hinde landscape postcard, placed as a foil to the more subtle shades of the natural world.

When you are in the middle of nowhere, in a bleak landscape and in wild weather, these little post boxes are strangely comforting, a sign that other people are around, that life is going on, and that you are connected to the world.