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Community / Museum happy to take slides saved from the dump

‘The way these photos have gone down a hit with the public is very much to do with nostalgia’, curator Ian Tait says

One of the images taken by Nick Dymond which were saved from the dump.

SLIDES featuring old photos of Shetland recently saved from being chucked out would be “very welcome” at the Shetland Museum and Archives, according to its curator Ian Tait.

Around two to three hundred slides of photos taken in Shetland a number of decades ago by 77-year-old Nick Dymond were given a second chance recently after being brought to the Gremista waste management facility in Lerwick for disposal.

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The pictures were among two bags of around 5,000 slides and Paul Moar, who works there, spent roughly eight hours sifting them through to find the local images.

A number of them were digitised, put online and have subsequently received national – and global – attention after being featured by Shetland News.

Moar said one of the latest interviews he did about the slides was for respected publication the New York Times.

A tweet by this reporter about the original story has been seen by more than 1.7 million people on the social networking platform Twitter after being shared around, prompting discussions around preserving social history.

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It was always Moar’s intention to put the slides to the museum and its photo archive with Dymond’s permission, and Tait said they would be welcome if offered for donation.

Museum curator Ian Tait. Photo: Shetland News

The collection of images include unstaged shots of every day life in the isles – including an emphasis on Fair Isle where Dymond worked as an assistant warden at the bird observatory – and the curator said it was this focus that has made them so popular.

“The way these photos have gone down a hit with the public is very much to do with nostalgia,” Tait said.

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“They’re at the perfect age to show change, but not so old that the scenes are outwith the memory of most folk. Nostalgia is a powerful notion, revved-up by online discourse: a picture of someone clipping sheep in the 1930s doesn’t resonate like sheep clipping in the 1980s.

“Considering the era the photos are from, they aren’t likely to contain anything unique, or even that rare, because cameras were commonplace. The real interest is the subject material Mr Dymond has captured.

“He had a great eye for everyday activity, on land and sea, in work and leisure, and all his photos go to making a more complete view of life here, just as oil era prosperity was shunting us away from local customs.

“If he’d concentrated on ‘special events’, made to be photographed, the pictures would’ve been of far less interest. Everyday is good, and a discovery like this is far from that.”

Moar, who initially put some of the photos on the Shared Shetland Memories Facebook page, said that he “never envisioned the interest it generated”.

Another image taken by Nick Dymond.

He has also been contacted by the directors of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory, who are looking for hi-res copies.

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“One of the things that struck me most was how many people had a connection to the photos,” Moar said.

“Everything from a boat launch to where they spent their summer holidays as children.

“When I got permission from Nick to keep the photos I decided to gently drip them onto the Facebook page with about 15 per day for the next 5-6 days for people to enjoy and still the memories and discussion flowed.

“I got a message from someone saying these old photos had given them the nudge to dig out their old slides.

“The level of media interest was a peerie bit overwhelming but hopefully it’ll settle down now. I think I’ll stick to the quiet life!”

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