Ian Lawson - Saorsa


The Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Ian Lawson - Saorsa (Freedom of the Outer Hebrides)


A beautiful story of landscape, people and tweed from the Western Isles.

Saorsa (n.) Scottish Gaelic for Freedom, Liberty.

The photographs within this book represent all that I love about photography. That rewarding feeling you get after an Hebridean adventure. Searching for island beauty and then forced home by the darkening night, there is nothing left of you but the sea. All is washed away, an empty mind, but with my heart full.

Ian Lawson - Oceans Art

Beloved Land

It has been my extreme good fortune in life to travel amongst the islands of the Outer Hebrides, to discover the hidden corners and colours of a landscape continuously refreshed and renewed by the elements. My Harris Tweed story of wool to weaver introduced me to a crofting culture that has generated a lifetimes worth of memories and wonderful rare photographs. Now beautifully bound and presented as Saorsa in my most comprehensive edition to date.

Ian Lawson - Oceans Art

The Call of the Isles

I've cherished the proximity to local people and the intimacy of sharing moments at their crofts, fanks and loom-sheds. Yet there’s also the feeling of being far from society, with only the beauty of island geographies for company. I’ve found hope and inspiration throughout.

These islands hold the grandest of all storytelling, with tales hidden beneath each and every stone. Given time and attention, such secrets unravel like old remnants of heather rope, enclosing the heart like croft-land; bound by bent post and long forgotten boundaries.

My own story is a slow, meditative experience of these revelations, wholly appropriate to the rhythm of this special place. I have long been immersed in it, lost in the faces of the inhabitants and the character of their precious land. While I work here, my pictures always seek to capture the delicate balance between nature's light and dark, the challenges of life lived in the remote and rural, and the rare glimpses which always reward if one's patience can endure. The longer I spend here, the more the islands come to impose upon my own psyche and soul. I find myself unburdened, old emotional tethers falling away, bringing an increasing sense of lightness to my being with every visit.

My Hebridean work, which first began fifteen years ago, now continues as I set out upon these new headings. Camera in hand, there is a deep drive to discover whatever may lie over the next hill and far horizon. Onwards the journey goes, and always with that inescapable sense of freedom only time spent in the Outer Hebrides can bring.

That is the feeling which has inspired the creation of this updated collection. Since the release of my first book ‘From The Land’ in 2013, the islands continue to reveal themselves in ways I never expect. So my story too continues to evolve, as I look at life there in an ever-changing light. Like nature, everything is always in flux but the essential endures.

This then is another step on the road I first began walking all those years ago, a beautiful path always leading home to the Outer Hebrides. No matter where I am in the world, my heart is irrevocably tied like a weaver's knot to this place, my soul forever drawn by the siren calls of unseen sea-birds.

Ian Lawson - Freedom of the Hebrides

Freedom of the Hebrides

‘A landscape I wanted to see for myself. What I found changed my life, my work, my ambitions.

I travelled to the Outer Hebrides all those years ago to discover a place of authenticity and I did. It is why I continue to return, camera in hand, dogs by my side. In an increasingly conforming society, we all search for real meaning, deeper resonance and ultimately that elusive sense of genuine freedom. I found mine here and hope my work will inspire you to find yours too, wherever it may lie.’

Ian Lawson - The Outer Hebrides Ian Lawson - Circle of Power

Hebridean Memories

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so, for the most part, I let my photography speak for me. Yet, I'll always try to capture my thoughts and impressions in words too, from days spent in the wilderness or time with new friends by the fire. By sharing excerpts from my journals, I want to bring something open and distinctly personal to the books pages, to give a wider sense of story. While I hope the images alone will capture your heart, perhaps my words will deepen the appreciation.

Ian Lawson - Hebridean Memories

Weaving Landscapes

As I began to photograph the landscape, the people and the cloth, I started to see patterns emerge. A beat began and the rhythm of Harris Tweed flowed into my consciousness and into my pictures. Herringbone, hound’s tooth, basket weave, bird’s eye, glen check, windowpane: evocative names for original Harris Tweed patterns. The closer I looked, the more beautiful and complex the patterns became. They are about the relations between and within – the ties of labour that bind Hebrideans to the weaving landscapes of their making.

This glorious landscape and tweed became firmly entwined in my imagination. The editing together of my landscapes alongside elements of coloured wools, yarns and textures allowed me to create thoughtful connections, each pairing capturing the wonders of this cloth and the setting that is so integral to it. With the ever-changing island light somehow the weavers have managed to capture the harmony, which speaks of durability in a time of constant change.



MaterialHardcover - Silk bindings. Foil-stamped

PresentationCustom slipcase with suede-cloth lining. Gift-box with carry handle.

TextEnglish 12,000 words

Weight5 kilos / 11lbs

Photographs343 Full-plate colour photographs

Size35cm x 29cm x 5.5cm

PaperGuardapat heavy-weight matt art

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Ian Lawson - Saorsa Book