Snapshots of luck and opportunity at Norrie Maclaren’s Acharacle exhibition

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Ardgour resident and esteemed film producer Norrie Maclaren is displaying his new exhibition A Conversation Around Luck at Resipole Gallery in Acharacle.

The exhibition, which begins as you walk up the stairs to the mezzanine of the gallery and on screens around the top floor, leads you through key moments that Norrie has picked out from his remarkable life.

Born and raised in the Highlands, he has returned to live on the Ardnamurchan peninsula. In the intervening years, however, Norrie has had as diverse a career as it is possible to have in show business.

Travelling the world, working in Hollywood and rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest stars of the past six decades makes for a fascinating life story, part of which is here on display.

I met Norrie at the gallery where owner Andrew Sinclair introduced us, telling me how the exhibition had come about. ‘Norrie and I were chatting about how locally he is known as a gardener and maker of preserves, although he has had a tremendously interesting life as a photographer, producer, writer and still does.

‘I thought that it would make a fantastic exhibition to highlight a few of the points in Norrie’s life that stood out to him, and this would give a brief insight into how luck can offer opportunity, which then became the title and main focus of the show.’

A photo of Stanley Kubrick taken by Norrie. NO F38 Norrie MacLaren 03

Norrie took up the story, saying: ‘We bought these screens and then I had to fill them. I could have done themes – I’ve been the editor of a magazine, a producer, a director, I’ve worked in TV, worked with Stanley Kubrick.

‘I started out thinking this would be like putting together a film, highlighting certain parts of the story but as I put it together I realised there have been moments when I could have chosen a certain path and this is a collection of those moments.’

We sat talking in the shadow of two large screens – one displaying the proposal for a TV show, the other stunning black and white photographs of teddy boys at the memorial service for Elvis Presley. To my right, a screen showing film footage which Norrie broke from conversation several times to draw my attention to interesting moments.

Most of us have a stash of photos, theatre ticket stubs, perhaps an item of clothing or newspaper article in a box somewhere, tucked at the back of a wardrobe or up in a loft that we keep to remind us of moments in our lives.

Norrie Maclaren had just that, only his wallets of negatives were behind-the-scenes shots from movie sets and yellowing magazines are ones he created.

Norrie captured countless behind-the-scene shots at a film set. NO F38 Norrie MacLaren 02

He told me: ‘It’s been an experience going back through the attic. It’s been a bit like a film going through and creating a story and giving it stages. It is quite abstract and maybe some of the people I’ve met are only known in small circles although some are very famous. Maybe I’ll do another one, something more weird and wonderful in the future.’

The exhibition is eclectic, diverse and beautiful. We walk around the display weaving between different periods of Norrie’s life. A picture of Stanley Kubrick, an album cover of a 1980s pop band, a contact sheet of photos including Quentin Crisp and Arnold Schwarzenegger walking along a London street, fashion shoots of beautiful models dressed in designer clothes. But Norrie explains the significance of every one.

‘We drifted in and out of each other’s lives but these images capture that moment. These people were my friends and we shared connections.’

He paused at an image of two women dressed in 1980s fashion and told me how they were training to be doctors. This brings us back to the overarching theme of the exhibition – connections.

‘Connections with people and how you use those connections,’ is how Norrie describes his unusual path through his career.

‘And all of those connections are luck,’ he added. ‘It’s about recognising your luck and how it leads you through life. And this is a conversation around my luck, hence the title of the exhibition.’

Conversation Around Luck is at Resipole Studios, Acharacle, until October 11.