Friday, June 26, 2009

Silkie the Seal


I was talking the other day about film stock. Thiis picture was taken in Howth in north Dublin with the famous Ilford HP2. In reality this black and white film is a colour process film (C41). It just comes out monochrome and has excellent grain for a 400 ASA film. For good measure, this one was taken (not by me) with a double red filter which makes it contrasty - blacks turn almost white. The Scottish legend of the silkie is similar to the Greek legends. In the latter, sea nymphs pursued by the Gods turned into slippery, short furred creatures. They were shape-shifters and could assume different forms which was very useful for escaping and protecting their virginity. The Scottish legend tells of seals that abandon their skins to turn into beautiful women. They then hide the skins in case they want to return to the sea. Some Scottish clan chiefs sometimes managed to marry such creatures and apparently the silkies made very good wives. But silkies always yearned to return to the sea and so needed the skin they had shed. Seals are held to symbolise the part of the unconscious that derives from repression and although it can take many shapes and forms it is to some extent controllable. Many thanks to the guest photographer!