Thomas Joshua Cooper

Caledonian Desire Lines

Thomas Joshua Cooper

Sept 4 – Oct 16

Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Castle Wynd
Inverness, IV2 3EB

Saint Marion, River Farrar, Glen Strathfarrar, Kilmorack, Inverness-shire

Headlining FLOW Photofest this year at Inverness Museum and Art gallery is the World Premier of the exhibition ‘Caledonian Desire Lines’ by Professor Thomas Joshua Cooper of Glasgow School of Art.

‘Caledonian Desire Lines’ develops a calendar of Caledonian Saints made with Catherine Mooney, through a hodological exploration of places associated with early Celtic Saints births, deaths, lives and practices. The pictures are all made in site specific locations and are are a visceral response to the interior of mythical Caledonia; a visual remapping of the familiar. The images are lyrical and even joyful, Scotland is rediscovered as a place of great richness and beauty.

‘Caledonian Desire Lines’, is a collection of 25 hand printed photographs made in Scotland.


The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture considers Cooper “amongst the premier contemporary landscape photographers” In 2014, Bella Bathurst writes of Cooper that “he made a series of vows”. One, he would only photograph landscape. Two, he would use only black & white film. Three, he would use only one camera and one lens. And four, in each place, he would only ever make one exposure”.  Critically, for Cooper photographs are not ‘taken’, they are made.  The act of ‘making’, is fundamental to his practice and each image is not only carefully considered when composed and exposed, but is hand printed by him in his darkroom in marathon sessions in which it can take up to a week to create a fine print.  As a consequence of his vow, he does not photograph anything else, family, holidays, or any other event. 

The capturing of any one image can involve days, weeks and months of preparation, arduous travel and considerable efforts to achieve. The locations are found on a map, tracked down and then photographed, each place the subject of a single negative taken with a weighty antique field camera. They are meditative, almost philosophical images, exquisitely printed by the artist in the 19th century manner with layers of silver and gold chloride. In each place the geography may not be readily identifiable, the image on cusp of dissolving into abstraction.

– Ingelby Gallery

Cooper was instrumental in the development of photography in Scotland, setting up the Fine Art Photography programme at Glasgow School of Art in 1982 which attracts practitioners from all over the world, such is its reputation. We are honoured and delighted that he able to participate in FLOW Photofest 21.

Thomas Joshua Cooper’s work is represented in the UK by the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh.