Photographic portraits by London-based Scottish photographer Paul Duke of working men and women from North-east Scotland’s fishing communities were unveiled at Aberdeen Maritime Museum today, November 8.
From his series, At Sea, these magnificent images document a time of sharp decline in the industry. Duke photographed his subjects in a portable studio set up in harbours, shipyards and factories over a three-year period.
Paul Duke said: “The hazards our fishermen face in our seas are real; I wanted to make noble portraits across the whole community to acknowledge this shared strength, courage and spirit. At Sea invites us to have a conversation with time, celebrate an artistic lineage and our deep cultural and spiritual relationship with the sea.”
Duke’s images are complemented by his selection of works from the collection of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums by artists who have turned to the sea for inspiration, including John Bellany, Joan Eardley, Alexander Fraser and Prunella Clough.
Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson said, “Paul Duke’s magnificent portraits are part of a strong artistic lineage which celebrates and documents the sea and its communities.
“It’s particularly fitting that these powerful images of men and women working in the fishing industry in the North-east of Scotland today should be on display at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, where we celebrate our city’s long history with the sea.”
Paul Duke was born and educated in Edinburgh. He gained a Master of Arts degree with distinction from the Royal College of Art, London, in 1989. He lives and works between London and Scotland and has been teaching photography for over 20 years. His work is held in private and public collections, including Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums.
In 2016 Duke received the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy Morton Award, an annual prize for a lens-based media artist to complete a new body of work: No Ruined Stone was exhibited recently at the St Andrew’s Photography Festival.