Stromness Museum blog

Móti Collective - Frances Scott

I’m Frances Scott, one of the artists from the Móti Collective working towards our group exhibition in collaboration with Stromness Museum. My artwork is primarily photographic, though I also use writing, maps and occasionally drawings to accompany my photographs. I've been working on one major project for a number of years - documenting my experiences as I walk the coastlines of Orkney - and I am happily taking this collaboration with the museum as an opportunity to begin a new body of work.


a photograph of the Sea Wall, Papay, 2018 by Frances Scott
Sea Wall, Papay, 2018. Image Credit: Frances Scott


Around four years ago, I gathered and made pressings of some flowers and leaves which were of significant emotional value to me and somebody close to me. When I visited Stromness Museum this summer to start my research for this exhibition, I went with this collection of plants in mind. I explored the familiar displays of the museum - barnacled shipwreck crockery, a handwritten message from a castaway, and the model of John Rae forever paddling with frozen hands. Then, upstairs, in the Natural History Gallery, nestled between bird specimens and the herbarium, I found what I’d been looking for. Under the muted light of the room there lay a small, flat stone, criss-crossed with lines - a delicate stem, small black oval leaves - an extinct, fossilised fern.


photograph of a fossil detailing leaves of plant
Neuropteris: Impression of fronds’ (Carboniferous). Photo Credit: Stromness Museum


Every year, life bursts from the ground, flourishes, and fades, and with each year this cycle of the seasons seems to pass with increasing momentum. By gathering my collection of flowers and leaves, I was trying to grasp hold of one particular summer, a precious and finite time shared between two people. I felt a link with the fern fossil - it once grew towards the same sun, moved in the same winds, and for some reason time chose to preserve this particular plant, enclosed and treasured in stone.


More recently, I was also given an excellent virtual tour of the museum by Norna and Katy, who looked out all the museum’s plant-related items for me, including some intricate First Nations flower-pattern beadwork and a tour of Magnus Spence’s Orkney Herbarium which contains over 900 plant specimens. Each page from this Victorian herbarium is adorned in beautiful handwritten notes.


photograph of a pressed plant specimen
Plant specimen from Magnus Spence's Orkney Herbarium. Image Credit: Stromness Museum


Over the next few months, I’m hoping to investigate photographically these links between memory, preservation, and the natural world. Alongside a series of group workshops, Stromness Museum is very kindly supporting our work by providing us with some art materials, and I have taken this as an opportunity to improve my skills in large format photography by asking for two packets of 5x4 film, one in colour and one in black and white. I’m also hoping to experiment in the darkroom, investigating techniques such as layering, photograms and double exposures among others - a freeing departure from my usual style of working. I’m looking forward to seeing where this inspiring collaboration with the museum leads our work as a collective.


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About the author

Frances Scott
Guest blogger