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Lighthouse  /

The North Pier lighthouse, located at the end of the harbour’s promontory is one of three that guides water-born vessels into the city’s docks. Built in 1866, this octagonal iron tower has a fog bell on the south side. It is built on flagstaff and bricks, the first port of call before entering the channel known as The Bar. 


The lighthouse’s lamp reflects south towards Breakwater, and onwards to Skate’s Nose and Abercromby Jetty. It beams white and red, four seconds off, two seconds on. In sea fog the lamp changes to yellow. 


Here, a vicious bite runs through the wind. Fishermen once lined the pier’s bulwark, casting baited lines into the storm-chewed waters. Now, this spit is out-of-bounds.   


The old Customs Watch House overlooks marine traffic that travels each day and night. To its right is the neon glow of Cadonas Fun Beach, where an illuminated big wheel, carousels and pirate ships look out across the beach. The esplanade runs along the waterfront from Footdee, where couples stroll on Sunday afternoons, and red-cheeked children eat candy floss as the easterlies blow against their faces. 


The vast golden beach stretches along the coastline to the River Don, Blackdog, Meikle Tarty and beyond.


Behind the lighthouse, facing seaward, the North Sea rages in winter and vast cargo ships, ferries and trawlers queue on the horizon awaiting solid ground. Some sail from Long Forties, others from the Devil’s Hole. Ling Bank and Fisher mark the aquatic border, before reaching Stavanger, and the Norwegian lands.   


This project was a collaboration with writer Adelle Stripe who explored the city with me and created the stories and histories that sit alongside the thirteen main images from the exhibition. Secret Cities Aberdeen was part of the SPECTRA Festival of Light 2017 in Aberdeen and commissioned by Curated Place. 

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