Out of the Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s always nice to go back to where things begun.

One year ago, Document Scotland was conceived in Beijing and born in Scotland. When Colin, Jeremy and Stephen travelled to China last year on assignment together, little did they think they would come back as a collective. One of the pivotal moments of the visit was attending a lecture by Street Level Photoworks director Malcolm Dickson, who talked of the historical importance and legacy of Scottish documentary photography to an audience at the acclaimed Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing. The conversations which emanated from that event led us to the conclusion that Scotland, standing at an historic crossroads, needed to be photographed and documented in an organised and determined way to leave a lasting legacy of these momentous times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast forward one year and we are back at the 3 Shadows. This time by invitation from the centre’s director Rong Rong, to update the audience of our progress in the first year. Minus Stephen, but plus Sophie, we staged an event which showcased not only our own collective work, but set our photography in the context of the wider work being undertaken by photographers across Scotland at this present time. The talk was well attended and went on long past the scheduled finish time as we fielded questions on everything from the plight of the wild Atlantic salmon, the contrasts between land grabbing in Aberdeenshire and China and the prospects of Rangers joining the English Premier League.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a privilege to be afforded the opportunity to talk to people in China directly about our work and what we are aiming to achieve through Document Scotland. We were even able to prove the link between our two countries by talking about the pioneering Scottish photographer John Thomson and his groundbreaking work in China in the 1870s. It was a fitting way to cement a relationship with Three Shadows which we hope to build on in the future. Many thanks to everyone at the gallery for staging such an enjoyable event.

(All photographs © Document Scotland, 2013 all rights reserved.)

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‘Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper

Document Scotland are delighted to announce that to coincide with our first collaborative group exhibition, ‘Seeing Ourselves’, we’ve published a newspaper showcasing the fine documentary photography work from the show. A certain amount of the papers will be available for free at the gallery and exhibition, to thank you for making the effort to come along and see the show, but for those of you unable to travel to Fife for the show, the paper can be bought via this page for a nominal fee.

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

 

The work on show, and in the newspaper, will feature photography by the four founding members of Document Scotland (Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Colin McPherson, Stephen McLaren and Sophie Gerrard), along with work by six contemporary photographers working in Scotland – Radek Nowacki, Jenny Wicks, Martin Hunter, Giulietta Verdon-Roe, Sarah Amy Fishlock and Robert Ormerod.

 

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

 

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

 

‘Seeing Ourselves’ aims to hold a mirror up to life in Scotland today and reflect some of the social, political, environmental and economic issues facing the country at this pivotal time in our shared history.

 

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

 

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

 

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

 

Document Scotland’s ‘DOC002, Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper.

 

The newspaper is printed in full colour, over 24 pages, and features a double page spread of images by each of the 10 photographers involved in the exhibition, there is also an editorial essay by Docment Scotland.

Document Scotland is a not for profit registered company, and all proceeds of the sale go back into financing this website, and helping fund furthers shows and publications. Many thanks for your interest and support, we greatly appreciate it.

‘Seeing Ourselves’ will open at FOTOSPACE Gallery, Fife on June 3 until July 30th, 2013. The show has been curated by Document Scotland, in association with Colin Cavers of the Fife Photo Group.


Costs



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Three Shadows talk

Colin McPherson, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Sophie Gerrard of Document Scotland, will soon be in China photographing on assignment and whilst there have the pleasure of presenting Scottish documentary photography to a wider audience by holding a talk at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing, on May 29th.

The talk will present the work of Document Scotland, the work of the photographers involved in the forthcoming ‘Seeing Ourselves’ exhibition, and also the rich heritage of Scottish documentary photography that came before, including John Thomson who of course travelled in China.

Talk details are as follows, and it is a free event:
Three Shadows Library
No. 155A Caochangdi,
Chaoyang district,
Beijing 100015, China.

Wednesday, May 29,2013,15:00p.m.

Sponsor: Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Document Scotland would like to thank Three Shadows Photography Gallery for this opportunity.

We hope to see you there!

And in Chinese:

时 间:2013年5月29日下午三点
地 点:三影堂图书馆
北京市朝阳区草场地村155A 100015
主 办:三影堂摄影艺术中心

主讲人:杰里米·萨顿·希伯特 http://www.jeremysuttonhibbert.com
科林·麦克弗森 http://www.colinmcpherson.co.uk
苏菲·杰拉德 http://sophiegerrard.com/

简介:

“记录苏格兰”,详见http://www.documentscotland.com,是一个苏格兰纪实摄影团队,成立于2012年9月,其成员有杰里米·萨顿·希伯特、斯蒂芬·麦克拉伦 、科林·麦克弗森和苏菲·杰拉德等,意在向广大公众绍介其成员及若干当代实践者的作品,整理并振兴苏格兰记录摄影的丰厚遗产。其中三人将参与本次对谈,与大家分享他们的创作以及苏格兰当代摄影的境况。

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The Gorbals

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

 

Over here at Document Scotland we were recently excited to find out that Craig Atkinson, under his Cafe Royal Books publishing name, was going to be publishing a book of photographs from the Gorbals area of Glasgow, by renowned advertising and portrait photographer John Claridge. Our curiosity was piqued, we hadn’t known that John Claridge had done such photography, his premenence as an advertising photographer, for which he has been widely awarded within the industry, goes before him. But who knew that he’d done black and white in Glasgow’s Gorbals? We had to find out more, and very nicely and graciously Cafe Royal Books have allowed us to preview their new ‘zine, and John Claridge took some time out from his schedule to answer a few questions for us.

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

 

Document Scotland– Sir, you’ve had an extensive career, and to the younger viewer editorial or documentary work is perhaps not what first springs to mind when we think of your own work, we think more of advertising, and portraiture, so how does the Gorbals work fit into your career? Did you shoot a lot of editorial reportage?
John Claridge– I’ve always shot documentary and editorial work. When I was on an advertising assignment I would always find time and take time out to shoot my personal work. When shooting an advertising campaign I guess you’re looking for and solving solutions based on a specific brief. With my personal work, I’m exploring my own psyche and opinion about the world.

The Gorbals, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

 

The Gorbals, Glasgow. © John Claridge 1965-2013, all rights reserved.

 

DS– When was the Gorbals work shot,  were you there on assignment, or for personal work? You’re from London’s East End,  we wondered did you feel an affiliation to the Gorbals area and the people? You seem to have had access to homes, how receptive were the people to being photographed?
JC– The Gorbals pictures were shot in 1965 over a two-day period for a charity to bring awareness of the dire circumstances people were living in. The majority of these pictures have never been published before. Only one or two have ever been seen. Being from London’s East End I certainly felt an affinity. The people in the Gorbals seemed to have a similar resilience, generosity and sense of humour despite their terrible circumstances and living conditions. I would never want to change my background or where I came from. Times were hard, but in a strange way living was easy. Not one day went by without laughing at something. Sharing and spending time with people who have real soul.

 

Scottish Landscapes, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

 

Scottish Landscapes, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

 

DS– And the Scottish Landscapes work, how did that come about? Is there a particular part of Scotland which drew you in, or draws you back?
JC– I’ve been shooting Scottish landscapes for a number of years. I adore Scotland. I think the Highlands are one of the most beautiful places in the world. For me the Highlands have so much beauty, history, mystery and tragedy. It’s always amused me with all this magic, that some advertising campaigns depict it with happy families, loads a sun, and ice cream!

H. V. Morton puts it into perspective when he wrote: “The heathery moors slope down to a distant valley. The sun is setting. The sky above the Lammermuirs is red and troubled. The wind drops. Faint white serpents of mist twist above the greenwood, outlining the course of stream and river. It is a study in blue. In the foreground, like a promise of the Highlands, and as notable as a ship at sea”.

 

Scottish Landscapes, a ‘zine by John Claridge, published by Cafe Royal Books.

 

Scottish Landscapes. © John Claridge 2013, all rights reserved.

 

DS– You’ve had a huge career, seen the world, and been awarded many times, what draws you to printing your work in small, limited edition ‘zines nowadays? What is the attraction for you?
JC– I think CRBs books have an honesty and rawness, which sadly is lacking in many publications today. Also they seem to be acquiring cult status. And, of course, a real pleasure to work with.

DS– What are you working on at present and what can we look forward to next?
JC– I’ve just finished a series of b&w portraits of ex-boxers and am now working on some older work about Britain’s industrial past.

DS– Thank you John, and Cafe Royal Books, for allowing us to show your work and taking the time to answer a few questions. Best wishes to you.

The website of photographer John Claridge is here, and Cafe Royal Books ordering page is here. Please feel free to show your appreciation for the work to Cafe Royal Books on Twitter.

Right, we’re off to buy John’s books…

 

 

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Hugh Hood’s 1974

Glasgow ©Hugh Hood 1974-2013, all rights reserved.

 

Hugh Hood, by Allan Brown.

For four decades now, the photography of Hugh Hood has hidden in plain sight. Quite literally. It lies in a
ring-bound folder in a corner of the Mitchell Library’s Glasgow Room, sharing shelf space with the dusty
gazateers and the typewritten reminiscences of old Shettleston.

A note has been Sellotaped to its cover, inviting browsers to learn more by consulting a member of staff. I
did this but it seemed there was nothing to learn. No-one knew from whence the folder had come. Index
cards and tetchy cardiganed librarians were quizzed, but to no avail. The folder, it seemed, was rogue, feral,
abandoned, orphaned. Which only served to echo its contents, for they depicted the Glasgow of the 1970s.
And who was Hugh Hood? It was easy, in his comprehensive absence, to imagine the sort of man he’d been.
Surely one of those doughty Glaswegian old boys, laid off from the shipyards perhaps; a self-improving
bunneted amateur, killing his time with a Box Brownie bought at the Barras? Turned out he wasn’t. Thanks
to Malcolm Dickson at Street Level, Hugh was tracked down. In fact, he was and is a thriving photographer
and documentary film maker, engaged mainly on commercial work, based out of London. In the early 1970s
he had studied photography at the Glasgow College of Printing. Between lectures, for practice, he ventured out
into the city. Or what there was of it.

What Hugh found was a Glasgow that had given up the ghost; a weary, frazzled interzone, half of which was
being flattened as the other half was in the throes of construction. This Glasgow was a city of ghosts and
rubble, its air a miasma of sandstone dust and occluded sunlight. Hugh’s work was local history reframed as
National Geographic anthropology. Who were these people, you wondered; had they really been so
bedraggled, so tired, so beaten?

It seems they were. The folder contained close to fifty monochrome prints, sheathed in their polythene
wallets. I flicked through, astonished that pictures so potent and so fascinating were so obscure. Every
totem and trope that made up Glasgow’s visual sense of self was present and correct: the tenements, the
cheeky wee boys, the Gorbals back courts, the cranes on the river, further cheeky wee boys. Yet the work
had to it no civic dimension, it contained nothing that was cherishably Glaswegian, nothing quaint or
beguiling: no long-hairs queuing outside the Apollo or infants frolicking in Kelvingrove Park. There were
no People’s Palace postcards here, no PR – just frank and unblinking assessments of a vanquished city,
nursing its shattered jawlines, awaiting the deliverance of some far-distant modern day.

Glasgow ©Hugh Hood 1974-2013, all rights reserved.

 

One shot in particular was instructive. A girl, six years old maybe, pushes a broom at the mouth of a
tenement close. The viewer is reminded of a Douglas Corrance or of a Joan Eardley painting, of an entire
school of Glasgow images in which tousled, grinning kids serve as counterpoints to the pervasive dereliction
and decay. In this kind of image Glasgow children are undaunted by the horrors around them for they are
symbolic of a better future. But not here. You looked closely at this picture and noticed that behind the girl
was a bricked-up window upon which was scrawled the most offensive of Anglo-Saxon epithets: in chalk, in a
round childish hand. In Hugh Hood’s Glasgow, nothing stayed clean for long. The damp was both physical
and moral, and on the rise constantly.

Or consider the Glasgow back court. Conventionally, these were depicted as grubby wonderlands, anklebiter
assault courses, shabby playgrounds, with kids swinging from washing lines and leaping from midden
to midden like Tarzans in short trousers. Again, not here. The back court Hugh stumbled across was like a
vision of hell, a bomb-site wasteland of shattered slate and scattered timber, of gutted prams and torn-up
sofas; the square root of squalor. None of the enclosing tenements have their windows intact, suggesting
they were on the verge of being pulled down. Two little girls sift through the carnage, appraising their finds.
In another shot, two boys appear with possibly dark intent through the haze of a bonfire. The sight is
sinister, indistinct, pregnant with malevolence; the ultrasound of a Glasgow yet to be born.
A close analogue to Hood was Oscar Marzaroli. Each man worked the same patch in the same period. As
photographers they were similar, yet strikingly distinct. Marzaroli’s pictures, for all their greatness, set out
always to oblige. They were commercial and persuasive. We can almost hear their creator charming his
scruffy subjects with his portrait-studio patter or picture him awaiting the arrival of a particularly photogenic
raincloud.

Glasgow, 1974-78. © Hugh Hood 1974-2013, all rights reserved.

 

Hugh’s vision of Glasgow was danker and blanker, he was a photographic stalker, keeping quiet, staying
out of things. Marzaroli went for the cheerful and the quirky; Hugh for the sad, the dislocated, the brokendown.
Which was handy, for the Glasgow of 1974 seemed to harbour little else. To paraphrase Keith
Waterhouse, it was a city that looked as though it were helping police with their enquiries. Relevant here
particularly is Hugh’s picture of Gerry’s Snack Bar, a terrifying semi-condemned caravan parked on a scab
of waste ground, offering resistible permutations of pies, beans and burgers, its macabre parody of the
service industry only intensified by a jaunty cartoon of a French chef. Pensioners stroll past the ailing Art
Deco underground station at Bridge Street in the rising, looming shadow of a scaffold-clad tower block. An
old boy sets up an antique gramophone outside the Krazy House clothing emporium at Glasgow Cross, in a
doomed pastiche of showmanship. At Bridgeton Cross an old Corporation bus seems to be fleeing the
scene. A fly-blown clown with an acoustic guitar leads children through the Barras, like the worst Pied Piper
on earth.

Altogether this is a lost world, shown without sentiment or nostalgia, rendered neutrally and
naturalistically. There is nothing cute or huggable or wry or self-mythologising. It all seems unutterably
strange, primitive, as eccentric as a top-hatted Victorian on a tram. And yet, occasionally, it remains the
Glasgow we know today. One shot shows late-night revellers at a fast-food van near the then-new concrete
furrow of the M8. A similar van stands on the very same spot today and remains a magnet for the small-hour
refugees of Sauchiehall Street. Like the mice in Bagpuss Hugh’s cast of Glaswegian dageurrotypes still
come to life, every weekend, when the pubs close. Whether by chance or design, by luck or skill, by accident
of history or by history of accident the photographs of Hugh Hood captured an eternal, brutal truth about
the city, that, no matter how tempered it becomes, its skull is forever threatening to break through its skin.
Which is why these spooky, candid and remarkable documents deserve an audience far in excess of those
who haunt the overlooked nooks of the Mitchell Library.

(Above text ©Allan Brown 2013, all rights reserved, used with permission).

 

‘Krazy House’, Glasgow. ©Hugh Hood 1974-2013, all rights reserved.

 

Glasgow ©Hugh Hood 1974-2013, all rights reserved.

 

Document Scotland also wrote to Hugh, who kindly replied letting us know a little background to his images and working methods, and graciously gave us permission to showcase his work. Here is what Hugh shared with us….

“The project was started in 1974 when I was twenty. I came across a magazine called Creative Camera which was a showcase for what was called documentary photography then, but is now known as street photography. The photographs were very different from the usual stuff seen in photography magazines of the time in the sense they were not about technical theory. Two photographers really got me to look at taking photos in a different way; Robert Frank and Tony Ray-Jones, whose photographs I came across in Creative Camera. They had long-term projects to document such as Frank’s vision of America on the road, and Tony Ray-Jones’ which covered the old English customs that were dying out and the English seaside.

I then started ‘Look at Glasgow’ as my project in 1974 and tried to photograph the people and the cityscape. It was a bit random in a sense, as I would wander around different areas of the city with my camera and hope to find good photographs – which was really a hit or miss situation. But on other occasions I would have to contact for example, the ship yards and the underground to get permission to photograph in their workshops and yards. Although I say Glasgow 1974, the images cover a period up to 1978 on and off. The main areas of Glasgow I would look to photograph were Woodside, Anderston, Gorbals and Govan.

I never once had any problems standing on a street corner or going into backcourts and take photographs of adults or children. I never asked their permission but would interact with them afterwards if they were interested in what I was doing. This was a time when very few people had cameras and were more innocent about photography than today. I don’t think I would dare photograph children today playing in the streets for fear of being arrested.

I did try to get institutions like publishers to make a book and contacted galleries to have an exhibition, but had no takers. Glasgow did not have any galleries that I was aware of which exhibited photography at this time. (There was one in Edinburgh, but I’ve forgotten its name). It was a bit odd as the Glasgow photographer Annan, who photographed what would be termed “street photography” in the 1880s, was being exhibited back then. After 1978 I kind of stopped the street photography. I subsequently found out that other photographers were doing similar work in 1970s in Glasgow, and it’s a shame we never meet up then to combine our interest.

Most of my photography was done at weekends and holidays as I had a full-time job as a photographer and a colour printer for various companies in Glasgow.

Camera-wise, I started with a Nikon F with 28mm lens and then bought an old Leica M2 with 35mm lens and 50mm lens, which was used for most of the street photography.

I had “lost” all my 35mm negatives after I moved to London in 1980 to start a film course at the Polytechnic of Central London. But in 2006 they were found again at my brother’s house in Glasgow and I then bought a scanner to start up loading to my website. The images now have a historical interest with people contacting me because they show someone they knew or a place they lived.” – Hugh Hood.

 

Glasgow, 1974-78. © Hugh Hood 1974-2013, all rights reserved.

 

Hugh Hood’s photography website is here, and there is a slideshow of 1974 Glasgow images set to music, which is tremendous to see, but also quite sad, to see the vanishing Glasgow neighbourhoods. All images and text by Hugh Hood are copyright of Hugh Hood 2013, all rights reserved. You can message photographer Hugh Hood on Twitter here.

Journalist and writer Allan Brown is on Twitter. Send him a note, tell him how great his writing is.

 

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