Award-winning photographer captures life in Outer Hebrides in new exhibition

Deeljeem Rai has lived in the Cearns housing estate for more than half his life, and now it's become the inspiration behind his work.

An award-winning photographer has captured life in the Outer Hebrides through a completely new perspective.

Deljeem Rai has lived in the Cearns housing estate for more than half his life, and now it’s become the inspiration behind his work.

Attracting attention from across the island and beyond, Deljeem’s first solo exhibition on his home island is currently on show.

Steeped in history and culture, Stornoway is best known for stunning scenes of sandy shores and captivating landscapes.

But local photographer Deljeem has been portraying life on the island through a very different lens.

Growing up in a council estate in the Cearns, he wanted to showcase the people and the place that make up the community he is proud of.

He said: “The way of creating a project is thinking about and writing about what you know and for me I came across what Lewis has always meant to me and it was this. It wasn’t the beaches or the crofts because I’ve not related to that.”

Born in Nepal, Deljeem and his family have called the island their home for many years.

He wanted to capture the strong sense of community, identity and belonging which made him feel so welcome.

He added: “Through the project what I’m trying to express to the people of Cearns is thank you very much, it’s a letter I guess from me to the people of Cearns for welcoming us and letting a Nepalese family be a big part of their community.”

Deljeem’s first solo exhibition on his home island has received critical acclaim for its originality.

Gallery owner Mhairi Law said: “Island Darkroom are really keen to celebrate local photography and local photographers and it just feels really lucky that this amazing work is here to be celebrated.

“Deljeem is looking at a part of the Hebrides that is often overlooked and it’s not a typical aesthetic but it is the Hebrides too and that feels really important to recognise and to celebrate.”

Stephanie works in a grocery shop in the Cearns and says she loves the uniqueness of Deljeem’s photography and how he showcases people in the community.

She said: “I love the photos, I think it’s different, especially in the Western Isles. It’s always pictures of beach and historical place, it’s not got people it’s just landscape but this is different.

“This is different and it’s good and I like it and I think a lot of people will like it too.”

The exhibition will be on show until July 26.

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