Lady McKie's collection at National Archives Canada / by Martin Toft

After a few days at the National Archives and Library in Ottawa, reviewing the remarkable collection of Phyllis Gertrude Ross (Lady McKie) who spend a lifetime fascinated with the Jersey - North Atlantic fisheries, it's time to head out East towards the Gulf of St Lawrence. Among the collection in Canada of close to 3000 photographs, 48 reels of films, texts and other artworks a number of excellent never-seen-before images exists and Ross' meticulous methodology and cataloguing raises new and interesting questions. In the Society Jersiaise Photo-Archive there is another remarkable set of photographs made by Phyllis Ross who in the early 1950s visited the island home of Charles Robin, Jersey's premier cod-merchant. Even more remarkable is a fictional biography - The Seaflower Venture - about the life and times of Robin that Phylis Ross wrote based on his own diaries.

In our new project we want to respond creatively to her work, especially using her unpublished manuscript of some 275.000 words as a narrative structure, making new images that explore the relationship between the fictional and non-fictional story about Robin's trading posts in the new British colonies in North America, that he established soon after the French defeat in the Seven Years War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763). On the back of many of her prints and negative sleeves Phyllis Ross would often annotate and make insightful descriptions. I noticed a little sticker in the corner on some images with her name and address and decided to look it up. As it happens she lived her final years on 10 Driveway just at the end of the road where I'm staying. Salut, Dame McKie!