Nick Hedges – A Life Worth Living

In 1968, Shelter employed Nick Hedges to document the oppressive and abject living conditions being experienced in poor quality housing in the UK. We commissioned the work in an effort to raise consciousness about the extent of unfit living conditions and to illustrate, in human terms, what the real cost of bad housing was.

A number of Nick Hedges’ images are on display on large billboards in St Andrews Square in Edinburgh this month, if anyone  recognises the people photographed or know what happened to them they are encouraged to contact Shelter – you can do by emailing mediascotland@shelter.org.uk

 

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Couple in a Leith tenement flat Edinburgh © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1972

Family living in an overcrowded tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Family living in an overcrowded tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Mother living with her children in an overcrowded single end tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Mother living with her children in an overcrowded single end tenement flat Glasgow © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

The thing about people living in slum housing is that there is no drama…it’s about the absolute wearing down of people’s morale in a quiet and undemonstrative way.
Nick Hedges

View of Glasgow tenements © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971  "It is apparent in the number of times disaster hits the city, every year some tragic event reinforced its reputation upon the rest of the country. A tenement fire, a gas mains explosion, a football crowd disaster, the shipyard crisis, the unemployment rate, another fire disaster; the list is endless". Nick Hedges

View of Glasgow tenements © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

 

Unemployed colliery worker Glasgow tenement © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971 "They are the grimmest environment that I’ve encountered. This has something to do with the size of the stone used in their construction, the entry to them through the cave like entrances, the deep and dark stairwells and the relentless pattern of streets. The tenements are built around a courtyard which becomes a battlefield and refuse dump." -  Nick Hedges

Unemployed colliery worker Glasgow tenement © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971


Teenage girls waiting in backyard of tenement block Maryhill © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

Teenage girls waiting in backyard of tenement block Maryhill © Nick Hedges/Shelter 1971

See a link here on the Shelter website for Nick Hedges’ honest and striking account of his time photographing in Scotland for Shelter.

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The Beautiful Game

Edinburgh City versus Spartans. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Edinburgh City versus Spartans. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

One of the most pleasing spin-offs from the launch of our show at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has been the blizzard of positive press coverage for the show.

Added to this, the BBC commissioned and made a short film about Colin McPherson’s work, which has been released on the corporation’s website today. Focusing on the images from When Saturday Comes, filmmaker Dan Curtis spent last weekend interviewing Colin in the gallery and then following him around as he photographed local club Edinburgh City as they hosted Spartans FC in a match at the Commonwealth Stadium.

 

The Grandstand at Meadowbank Stadium. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Grandstand at Meadowbank Stadium. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

The film identifies what Colin looks for when photographing football and combines stills from The Ties That Bind with the images captured during last Saturday’s game.

 

Happy Edinburgh City players. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Happy Edinburgh City players. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

The film is intended for broadcast on the BBC terrestrial television, so you might get a chance to see it on programmes across the network at some point very soon. And in case you wondered, City defeated Spartans 1-0!

 

Colin and Document Scotland would like to thank Dan Curtis for making the film, Edinburgh City FC for being such generous hosts and the staff at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery for facilitating the filming.

 

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Unsullied And Untarnished

To coincide with our new exhibition, The Ties That Bind‘, on now at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until April 2016, Jeremy has published a book of his work,  ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’, portraying the Common Riding festivals of the Scottish Borders. The same work forms Jeremy’s contribution to our SNPG show.

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Unsullied And Untarnished’ is photographic portrait of the people of the towns of the Scottish Borders who each year undertake the maintaining of tradition, commemorating their local history and at the same time strengthening the bonds of their communities looking forwards, during the annual Common Riding festivals of the summer months.

Braw Lassies and Honest Lads, Left Hand Lassies and Right Hand Men, Cornets, Hunters and Coldstreamers – all titles given to the upstanding youths who lead the festivities, and whose duty it is to carry the burgh or town standard around the common lands, and to “bring it back unsullied and untarnished”.

To accompany the 58 photographs Document Scotland’s Honorary Patron the Glasgow-born photojournalist Harry Benson has written a foreword, and Alex Massie, Scotland editor of The Spectator, has written a beautiful essay which explains the Common Riding festivals, and what they mean to the participants and communities involved.

 

“Some of these ridings and festivals are ancient, stretching back five centuries and more. Others are more modern but, whatever their roots and antiquity, they have something in common. They are annual gatherings of remembrance and celebration; affirmations that though these may be small places there is nothing small about coming from Kelso or Galashiels, Lauder or Langholm.” – Excerpt from essay, ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’, by Alex Massie.

 

Unsullied and Untarnished book, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday, 7 September 2015.

St Margret's Hope for the South Ronaldsay Boys Ploughing Match, in Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday, 7 September 2015.

 

“These festivals are not flashy, for the Border towns are not flashy places….They are an argument for the small places – none of the Border towns, not even Galashiels and Hawick can count as metropolises – and the importance and permanence of place. They maintain the golden threads that stretch back through the ages to a time when the world was a younger place. These festivals are the guardians and custodians of memory and without memory, what does identity matter?” –  Excerpt from essay, ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’, by Alex Massie.

We were fortunate that during the opening night of our show in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery that two of Jeremy’s collaborators from the project made it along to see their portraits hanging on the wall of the show, which has been curated by Anne Lyden, the National Galleries’ International Curator for Photography.

Calum Moffat (left) and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert at Document Scotland's 'The Ties That Bind' exhibition, including 'Unsullied And Untarnished', at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday, 24 September 2015.

Calum Moffat (left) and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert at Document Scotland’s ‘The Ties That Bind’ exhibition, including ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday, 24 September 2015.

Calum Moffat (above) made the journey from Jedburgh along with his family, and the next day was going to be presenting at his school a little talk on the project and the fact that his portrait made it to the gallery wall. Graham Hamilton (below), the ‘Braw Lad’ of Galashiels in 1989, kindly made it along also, standing by his portrait.

Graham Hamilton and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert at Document Scotland's 'The Ties That Bind' exhibition, including 'Unsullied And Untarnished' at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday, 24 September 2015.

Graham Hamilton and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert at Document Scotland’s ‘The Ties That Bind’ exhibition, including ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’ at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Thursday, 24 September 2015.

 

“Every Common Riding is unique yet, in this important respect, each is just the same as last year’s festivities. These are the permanent things; the ties that bind a people together, that insist upon the specialness of a particular small patch of Scotland. They are the things that make a difference, the things that matter most.

And if you listen carefully you will still hear the hoofbeats of history commanding us to remember and celebrate who we are and whence we have come.” – Excerpt from essay, ‘Unsullied And Untarnished’, by Alex Massie.

Unsullied And Untarnished.
ISBN: 978-0-9933742-0-3
96-pages, hardback, embossed cover.
58 photographs, printed on non-coated paper.

The book is available to purchase directly from Jeremy’s website.

NGSTiesThatBind

 

‘Unsullied And Untarnished’ forms Jeremy’s contribution to Document Scotland’s ‘The Ties That Bind’ photography exhibtion at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, on now until 24th April 2016.
@DocuScotland @NatGalleriesSco #NGSTiesThatBind

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