My genealogical research has been interrupted these last few weeks while I was fulfilling a long held dream to take an intensive Spanish language course in the Andalusian city of Granada. But now that I’m back to the cold northern springtime it feels as if it was an experience that happened to someone else. The city was a full-on sensory experience: the light was intense and hot; the narrow streets of the old Arab quarter in front of the school’s apartment echoed day and night with the noise of traders and passers by and revellers, making sleep impossible; the smell of spices and sweetmeats and jasmine lingered in every corner of the whitewashed lanes. I’m not even sure if I was able to really improve my Spanish as my brain was mostly taken up with processing everything going on around me. 

However, while away from home and out of my comfort zone I also was able to view my Scottish family photographic collection with new eyes. Images that seemed strange or surreal jumped out at me and I began to see patterns connecting previously uncategorised photographs. Some startled me out of my rigid way at looking at the album and I thought more about the person behind the lens. Others were photographs that no-one in the family could clearly define or describe and that transcend the normal idea of an image in a family album, becoming surreal and disconnected and forcing the viewer to see the world anew. 

One such photograph I discovered while originally searching for images related to work was of two labourers leaning against a stone wall, one looking absurdly tall next to the other. My mother believes this to be her Great Uncle Adam Neilson – a short man with a great sense of humour who was a blacksmith by trade. But there is something about this image which I find simple and playful, and at the same time it strikes me as rather unusual, even if it was never intended it to be so.

Little and Large

Read more of this post at my new family history blog: A Scottish Family Album.

The Incidental Genealogist, April 2023


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s