From Home is a book written, designed and photographed by Julie M Cumming, to capture the social history of the past 90 years in Atholl through interviews with residents of the area.
I am a young local creative, and for the past year, I have been working on From Home. Though I studied Product Design at University, I have always had a passion for storytelling and photography. Working on From Home allowed me to combine these, as well as being focused on the area of Atholl, which I love.
The idea came about whilst at work in the Blair Atholl Watermill tearoom. Locals come in regularly, chatting about fascinating (and often humorous) stories from their childhood days, spurring the need of a way of documenting such stories and sharing them with others in years to come. A book filled with interviews with people who have lived in the area for over fifteen years seemed the richest way of capturing a sense of not only how Atholl has been, but also how it is at the moment.
In November 2019, I put up posters and advertised an open call for submissions of stories of life in Atholl, in particular in the area stretching from Trinafour to Killiecrankie. In the end, twenty-seven contributors came forward to share their wonderful stories, be it from Glen Tilt, to the bustling railway, to within Blair Castle. Memories of life from the early 1930s until the present day are shared, alongside photography of landscapes, people and objects which add a sense of place to the narratives.
Most of the following interviews were conducted in the welcoming warmth of peoples’ homes, recorded on a little voice recorder to be meticulously typed out later and have a chapter written round them. However, from March 2020, in-home interviews came to be out of the question, and so, letters were written and sent back and forth. I continued taking photographs to be included in the book whilst out on my daily walks, and was blessed with beautiful sunshine for the most part. Some rainy day photographs were taken too – not to give a false pretence of Atholl’s weather!
In September, I finished up writing and started putting the final touches on the file to be sent to print. It was sent to print in October, and launched (virtually) on November 20th.
From Home is self-published, and supported by Creative Scotland’s Time to Shine initiative as well as the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s Covid Appeal Challenge. I wanted to work with a Scottish printing firm who not only produced a high standard of finish, but also worked with the environmental impact of print in mind. Bell & Bain Ltd are based in Glasgow, and have been printing beautiful documents and books since the 1830s – a perfect choice of printer for this project. The book is printed on FSC approved paper, and covered with foil blocked Wibalin cloth, which is produced in the UK following FSC guidelines and is fully recyclable.
So far, the book has been very well received by people not only in Atholl, but also across the globe! It is wonderful to have created a publication that not only champions the lovely people of Atholl and their stories, but also brings excitement and enjoyment to the local community.
There are 500 copies of the book available to order from www.juliecreatedthis.co.uk or by phoning Julie on 07765710984. Thank you to everyone who has made the project so enjoyable and supported it so far. I hope everyone will enjoy reminiscing on life in Atholl in From Home!