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A year like no other captured in a new photography exhibition which celebrates the resilience of the people of Nairn in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic

By Donald Wilson

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Elena was pictured on the beach with her dogs in June 2020.
Elena was pictured on the beach with her dogs in June 2020.

A new photography exhibition celebrating the resilience of the people of Nairn in the wake of the Covid pandemic has opened at the town’s community and arts centre.

Local photographer Alexander Williamson, who is also chairman of the Nairn Book and Arts Festival, has spent over two years taking portraits of people around the beaches, riversides and the harbour of Nairn for VisitScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21.

The project highlights the resilience of communities while coping with the effects of the pandemic, with many drawing comfort from nature.

The exhibition began last week and continues until October 27 with plans for a commemorative book later in the year.

Mr Williamson said: “When I initiated the project in January 2020 my intention was to record a year of activity being planned to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.

“When the pandemic hit, and the UK went into lockdown, all of those plans were put on hold. There were more important things at hand.

“For many in Nairn in the early days of the first lockdown, using that permitted hour of outdoor exercise meant going for a walk down by the river or out along the beach.

“People began to reconnect with nature and realise how lucky we are to live here.

“Some turned to the natural beauty on their doorstep for consolation and solace. Some took to wild swimming, some paddle boarding. Others simply walked.

“It’s well known that walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of exercise and walking in nature has a hugely positive impact on mental health. For me, walking and photography go hand in hand. Walking makes the planes of our perspective shift and form a moment that you can frame.

“I plan to carry on until December 31 – a record of how people have coped with the strange times we have been living through.”

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