J a n e t M c E w a n
The Falls of Clyde is the collective name of four linn (Scots word for waterfalls) on the river Clyde near New Lanark, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. The place is a well known beauty spot, and Corra Linn with the highest drop of 84ft, has attracted the attention of many artists over the years, including J.M.W.Turner.
In 1786, a cotton mill town called New Lanark was constructed beside the lower falls of Stonebyres Linn, taking advantage of the only waterfalls on the Clyde, which flows on for a further 40kms to Glasgow. The mill buildings were eventually illuminated by William Murdoch’s gas lighting system (his father had been a mill designer) and undoubtedly the industrial machinery inside contained tin and copper extracted from Cornish mines.
By providing good accommodation for the millworkers, under the ownership of a partnership that included Robert Owen, a Welsh philanthropist and social reformer, New Lanark became not only a successful business but an epitome of utopian socialism as well as early example of a planned settlement; an important milestone in the historical development of urban planning.
In 1927 a dam was built at Bonnington Linn to feed Scotland’s first hydro electric power ¬¬-station. The plant generates 11 megawatts of power.
I was raised in nearby Lanark, and spent many hours exploring the river banks beside these waterfalls. I vividly remember visiting New Lanark as a small child before the mill closed in 1968 and shrinking back from the sight of the place and the people, who seemed to be from quite another time - and I time I equated with hardship. New Lanark has since been radically cleaned up and is now a major tourist destination: an anchor point for the European Route of Industrial Heritage.
In July 2016 I retraced some of the walks I made as a youngster, including the path along the ‘Bonnie Bank’s of Clyde’, from Bonnington Linn Dam past the Lanark Hydro Power Station to New Lanark Milltown, documenting the journey with my newly acquired vintage Super 8 camera and a digital sound recorder.
The Falls. 2015.
3.45min Super 8 Film, processed in Caffenol.
Digitised with sound track.
In July 2016 I retraced some of the walks I made regularly as a child in Scotland - including one that went along the river Clyde, from Bonnington Linn Dam past the Lanark Hydro Power Station to New Lanark Milltown.
I documented this journey with my newly acquired vintage Super 8 camera and a digital sound recorder.
While processing the super 8 film I accidentally stripped the images off & initially thought I had nothing to show. However when I ran the film through a projector and matched it with the sound recording I felt it perhaps evoked the essence of the place more than the images I thought i had captured. The flicker which runs through the film echoes the rhythm of the waterwheels which used to power the cotton mills and stll run today.
The Falls screening in Back Lane West,
during Cornwall Film Festival, Nov15 :
part of rolling programme of short films made by artist filmmakers from the SW of England, generated on 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film organised by Cinestar.