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A unique photographic record of summer 1977 in Uist is currently on display at Museum nan Eilean, Lionacleit, on Benbecula until the end of May.

Gösta Sandberg, a retired museum photographer and curator, spent July 1977 touring the Southern Isles. Now, his photographic collection from almost half a century ago is being displayed in an exhibition entitled Rain Coming from the Hebrides.

However, they are more than merely holiday snaps; the collection is artistic and documentary in style.

Gösta Sandberg, who worked for many years in his local museum in Alingsäs, Sweden, became fascinated with the Outer Hebrides as a boy. In local weather reports, he often heard references to ‘rain coming from the Hebrides’.

But it would be many years before he could visit to see for himself the source of this rain.

Donald Walker (Domhnall Phadraig – right) with sisters Kirsteen and Anne Marie and their father Padraig, from Howmore, South Uist, taking a break from shearing; July 1977.

As well as having an academic interest, Gösta was also very interested in meeting and talking to people during his visit. He went out daily with his camera, talking to and photographing those he met and the scenes encountered during his trip.

As well as his photography, Gösta made audio recordings.

He gifted the collection of photographs to Tasglann nan Eilean in 2017, subsequently presented digital copies, and, in October 2022, made a further gift of forty photographic colour slides, which are being digitised.

When he returned to the Hebrides in 2017, some forty years after his first visit, he tried to retrace his steps and the people and places from his original photographs. His return visit was filmed for a TV documentary, ‘Tiodhlac Ghösta’ (‘Gösta’s Gift’), which was broadcast on BBC Alba as part of the ‘Trusadh’ series. 

Taking a break from the shearing in South Uist.

Image credits: Gösta Sandberg