Archive for February, 2007

On the road at last!

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Greetings to all lovers of single-track roads, everywhere. My name is Ian MacKenzie and this is my new website where I will be showcasing my fieldwork on Scottish Highland and Island single-track roads. I am an ethnological photographer and I work for the department of Celtic & Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. This project (called ZenBends) has been awarded funding by The University of Edinburgh’s Small Project Scheme, The Catherine Mackichan Trust and the Moray Endowment Fund. Thanks to Owen Nelson of for help with this site.

sign on the A86 that suggested the project name

ZenBends is a play on the British road sign warning of double bends ahead, (sometimes referred to as ‘Z’ bends) and often seen on Highland & Island single-track roads as they follow the contours of the land rather than the more direct routes of modern roads that, by a combinations of blasting, cutting and filling, take their own line regardless of the surrounding topography. These older single-track roads are the type of road that draw me down their length, filming what I see as I drive, mentally noting corners, curves, roadside details and panoramas of hill, sea and sky to photograph later.

Every journey is different - the variables of light, the time of day and year, the purpose of the trip, the frame of mind of the driver, the music playing on the radio or CD player. Even if it seems that you are all alone on the road, you always have to be prepared for whatever is round the corner. These are, by their very nature, roads that demand negotiation with other travellers (human or animal) to reach your destination . . . .

Okay, that is my first attempt at setting the context for my interest in this subject. I will no doubt come up with more on that later. Next thing is to put up some images, once I figure out how to do it. Please check back and see if I managed.