As IHBC members, an appreciation of the diversity in building styles, materials and techniques across our working landscape helps us understand the technicalities of care and repair, and develop cultural sensitivities and a curiosity to find out more about shared issues: Tom Hunter invites us to be ‘immersed, charmed and inspired’ by his experiences on the front line of conservation in the Highlands and Islands, the most recent issue of the IHBC’s member journal Context.
image: National Library of Scotland
The diverse languages and landscape of the Highlands and Islands provide a rich context for working in heritage, with the global connections that coastal communities have enjoyed for millennia. Tom explains:
‘The region’s strategic location between North America, Scandinavia and Europe has resulted in strong cultural links to Ireland, Norway, Canada and elsewhere. Understanding and working with these local and international connections in the context of building conservation makes for some really fascinating and distinctive projects. Some of the most memorable sites I worked on include the cathedral-like, second-world-war underground fuel storage complex on Hoy, Orkney, and the centuries-old lighthouse at Eilean Glas, on Scalpay in the Western Isles.’
Tom outlines the challenges and opportunities of working as a heritage professional in such a geographically diverse area, stating:
‘You could drive all day along winding single-track roads, tracks and mountain passes, and still have to hike for hours over the heather to reach a site. These distances mean that transporting building materials and sourcing skilled construction workers are much more expensive, inflating project costs significantly. From a professional development point of view, it is much harder to access training, and to meet other conservation professionals, as this usually involves at least one flight or several days’ drive if video-conferencing facilities are not available” however “for me it was an invaluable experience in developing my interests as a professional and gaining the confidence to push myself further in my career… the fact that most people working in the sector operate individually, geographically isolated from each other, is undoubtedly a challenge, but it is also an opportunity to gain very broad experience.’
So: As a CPD exercise prompt – and boost – from the IHBC:
What do you enjoy about working where you are?
Indeed why not contact us to write a NewsBlog on your personal heritage professional journey, or consider writing a Vox Pop for Context – which for this issue features Euan Leitch from Built Environment Forum Scotland.
Go free with your IHBC CPD and connect with our membership community!
View the IHBC Context article by Tom Hunter.
View the IHBC Context archive which features regular Vox Pops from our membership
Visit our CPD pages to consider your own personal development needs at cpd.ihbc.org.uk
To explore submitting a personal heritage journey blog email Michael Netter at email@example.com