National Museums Scotland - Collecting the Present

Making skis for the National Museum of Scotland

I was shocked and honoured when Dr Sarah Laurenson got in touch with me from National Museums Scotland about a special ski commission. Dr Laurenson is the Curator of Modern and Contemporary history at the museum and has been seeking out objects that represent social, political and cultural change in Scotland

We have collected Jamie’s award-winning Sneachda skis as an example of how the Scottish landscape continues to shape craft skill and design

Collecting the Present: Lonely Mountain Skis (I had a bad cold hence the funny voice)

Excerpt from Sarah’s blog:

“We have collected Jamie’s award-winning Sneachda skis as an example of how the Scottish landscape continues to shape craft skill and design. They are made to work across different types of terrain – a response to the emergence of a vibrant backcountry skiing scene in Scotland, with people sharing information online about conditions across different areas. Yet that scene has emerged against the backdrop of the unreliability of snow as a result of our changing climate”

The Ski

I was thrilled to work with the incredible Eben Rautenbach, a pyrographer, on making a very special pair of Sneachda skis for the museum. The burned artwork on the ski depicts a scene I witnessed outside my bungalow when I first moved to Perthshire. It involves two male deer locked in combat at the peak of the rutting season. The dog and I were only meters away from the beasts who were so focussed they failed to see us watching in the long grass. It was a very special moment for me which concreted my move from the city to rural Scotland. Witnessing one of the great Scottish wildlife sights together with my new collie dog Hemp (born only two hills away). I felt somehow part of the timeless ebb and flow of the highland Perthshire landscape.

The Sneachda was the chosen ski as it was my award winning flagship Scottish ski and it represents the ethos of backcountry exploration and ruggedness behind the company.

Other items

The museum also collected my ISPO award, a book about the history of skiing (Two Planks and a Passion by Roland Huntford) bought for me by my good friend Euan and the first ski I ever made which I tested in Glenshee. It is made of solid pine with steam bent tips and was an approximation of a Norwegian Telemark ski from the late 1800s. A ski that is very dear to me which sparked my passion for ski making and also helped to create a lot of serendipitous conversations. It’s lovely golden pine wood was coated in traditional Swedish pine tar, a jet black substance created from the anaerobic combustion of pine roots, which emits an incredible aroma that is evocative of remote log cabins, old ships, smouldering fires etc. I have not met a person who didn’t like the smell of those skis.

Screen grab of my first ski from the film

Making the film

Along with the skis there are four other incredibly interesting and thought provoking objects that tell very deep stories about the fabric of modern scotland. You can see the short films about the objects and mine here:

Whether it’s luck, good timing, hard work or otherwise I feel very honoured to have been asked to be part of the contemporary collection programme. It was great fun working the the Edinburgh Film Company to produce a short film about the making of the skis and what it means to be part of Scottish ski culture. We even had some nice snow to ski on for the film. The skis are not on display yet but will hopefully find a place to live in the museum in the not too distant future.