The past present

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It would be easy to label Larry Herman’s work as ‘old school’.

His photography is indeed imbued with an aesthetic sense which resonates the past. Grainy, monochrome images which depict life at a time when Scotland’s Industrial Age was coming to an end and the new service economy and its illegitimate offspring, unemployment and job insecurity, had not yet pervaded everyday life. This would do an injustice to Herman’s work, however, the context of which is directly relevant to peoples’ lives today: our never-ending struggle for financial security and survival; the ceaseless toil of work; the quest to find justice in an increasingly unequal Britain.

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Clydeside 1974-76 currently on show at Glasgow’s Street Level Photoworks, offers us a glimpse of a world which, in strict terms, no longer exists: The men in the blast furnace at the Ravenscraig steel mill, the workers dwarfed by ships under construction on the Clyde; a woman, head bowed in concentration, sewing pockets to garments in a factory in Campbeltown, of all places. These locations, once the lifeblood of countless Scottish communities, swept away in the Thatcherite firestorm, now consigned to memory and preserved in a thoughtful, honest and soulful manner by Larry Herman’s photographs. They are intimate moments which humanise industry.

The title of the show may be geographically misleading, but the sentiments and honesty behind the work endures and cuts through this narrow definition of the life and land surrounding Scotland’s most famous – and infamous – river. By including images from as far afield as rural Argyll and Ayrshire, we are allowed to spy different aspects of life and work in 1970s Scotland. The pictures do not romanticise working life in Scotland, often the curse of the commentariat which likes to hark back to some ‘golden age’ when the world was Clyde built (neglecting to observe that this was all done on the blood, sweat and tears of the working man and woman). At the same time, Herman’s images do not portray a negativity and grimness of the occasional visitor or voyeur. His was a project, constructed over two years, which allowed him the time and space to develop his themes and narrate carefully a political strand to his output which subtlety and successfully takes a stand.

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If inequality is an oft-bandied word in today’s political lexicon, then some of Herman’s images in this show demonstrate starkly that it has always existed. The photograph of the fatted, ruddy country squires sits uneasily with a picture of family life in the vast, sprawling streets-in-the-sky of Glasgow’s Red Row flats. It is classic epic and everyday, woven together by a determinedly singular vision of the world, which has sustained a passion and fire in Herman’s work until this day, where he still shoots stories and projects with those same political themes at their core.

We emerge from the gallery, blinking in the early-October sunshine as people of all races, cultures and backgrounds colourfully tumble down Argyle Street, shopping bags swinging, music blaring. I remind myself that so much has changed for the better in this city and the regions surrounding it in the past 40 years, but at the same time, so much has remained the same.

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Larry Herman’s photographs are a reminder that photography can still prick our conscience and be a call to action, even after all these years. It is a timely rejoinder to anyone who thinks ‘old school’ is dated and irrelevant in the digital age.

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Clydeside 1974-76 by Larry Herman continues at Street Level Photoworks until 27th November, 2016. There will be a Q&A event with Larry Herman, Noni Stacey and gallery director Malcolm Dickson on Saturday 22nd October at 3pm, which is free to attend.

Gallery photographs © Colin McPherson, 2016, all rights reserved.

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Roll out the barrel…

The first delivery of barrels to InchDairnie. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

This month sees the first new whisky distillery for a century officially opening in Fife.

Document Scotland photographer Colin McPherson was commissioned by the company responsible for the project, MacDuff International, a Swedish-own film with head offices in Glasgow, to document the construction of the InchDairnie facility from a brown-field building site to completed distillery.

Rather than setting a brief which would befit a commercial contract, McPherson was given unrestricted access to the site and the people working there, in order to photograph the various stages which brought the project together. He was asked only to focus on the workers and their work, to engage with them and show the many skills and attributes which are required to bring such a major project from concept to reality.

Over the course of 15 months from early-2015, McPherson made repeated visits to InchDairnie, watching the seasons changing and the buildings taking shape. The various contractors came and went and left behind their legacy. The distillery, designed and built by John Fergus and Co, began production by the end of the year as the building work continued through the wet and windy winter of 2015-16. By May 2016, with the building and landscaping work done, the final result looked as aesthetically pleasing as a fine glass of malt.

The photographs are to be archived by MacDuff International as a permanent record of the project and discussions are under way about a possible publication to mark this historic moment and showcase the work made by McPherson over the last year. In the meantime, McPherson is planning to return to InchDairnie in the coming months to photograph the team of distillers and other workers employed permanently on site.

 

Construction gets underway at InchDairnie. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Construction gets underway at InchDairnie. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Contractors welding parts for the stills. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Contractors welding parts for the stills. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Copper stills arriving at InchDairnie. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Copper stills arriving at InchDairnie. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Project director Ian Palmer in his office. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Project director Ian Palmer in his office. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

An electrician working on site. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

An electrician working on site. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Stacking and storing barrels. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Stacking and storing barrels. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

A contractor installing machinery. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A contractor installing machinery. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Computer screens with data. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Computer screens with data. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Examining newly-arrived barrels. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Examining newly-arrived barrels. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Fife barley ready to harvest. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Fife barley ready to harvest. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

The completed distillery. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved.

The completed distillery. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2016 all rights reserved.

 

 

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Home and away with Albion Rovers

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Cliftonhill is one of the most evocative grounds in Scottish football, yet one suspects hardly anyone in Scotland could describe what it looks like or even – given Albion Rovers’ name – where it is. Photographer Iain McLean has spent many years visiting the ground as a fan and a photographer. His project, entitled More Than Just A Football Club has recently been published in book form. Here he chats to Document Scotland’s Colin McPherson, himself an aficionado of lower-league Scottish football, about his striking images of the Coatbridge-based club.

CM: I have several memories of visiting Cliftonhill in the 1980s with the team I supported, Meadowbank Thistle. The rubble-strewn ground was in a ruinous state, with its dungeon-like toilets and crumbling main stand and an owner who seemed part of the problem not the solution. And yet… it was always one of my favourite away days. From arriving at the ironic-sounding Sunnyside station to a pint in Big O’s before the game, the trip to Albion Rovers was always eagerly anticipated. When did you first connect with the club?

IM: In season 2000/01 my friend and Rovers stalwart Bill Walker suggested coming along to the club when I was on the lookout for a longterm photo project. I had never been to Coatbridge before and knew nothing of its history never mind anything about Albion Rovers. I’ll never forget seeing the stadium for the first time – a blaze of yellow and red alongside a busy road. It had an oddly exotic appearance from the outside with the colours standing out against the cold North Lanarkshire backdrop. I was impressed. Bill secured me permission to take pictures and I got started immediately. I found the fans to be welcoming and despite the state of the stadium – as you say, it was in need of a bit of TLC – I had a good feeling about being there. I originally shot on film – HP5 – developing and printing in my shed, and in the first season produced a few decent prints from games against Peterhead, Dumbarton and East Stirlingshire.

Albion Rovers v Arbroath, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

Albion Rovers v Arbroath, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

 

CM: Ah yes, those evocative colours, bright red and almost luminous yellow, certainly stood out from the more familiar grey sky which seemed to be ever-present there. I was particularly fond of Rovers’ mid-1980s strip which featured a series of red diagonal stripes to complement the then sponsors Tunnocks. A design classic. Your images are monochrome of course, so we’ll just have to add the colour in our imagination. What was the rationale behind using black-and-White for the project?

IM: Despite the colourful exterior,  as soon as I saw the inside of the stadium I knew the photographs had to be mono as the inside harked back to another time. Black-and-white gives the pictures a more timeless feel and also gives the whole project continuity. Your own excellent pictures in When Saturday Comes are to an extent dictated by editorial needs, but I have a little bit more freedom when it comes to how the pics are presented.

CM: Actually the WSC images reflect very much my approach to photographing football – the magazine gives me complete autonomy, it’s just the style I’ve developed over the last decade. I’d be interested in photographing a football project in mono, but I’m so drawn to the colour palette that I can’t imagine ever doing it. I think your images work really well in black-and-white as the emotion of what you capture is laid bare more starkly. You have also had the opportunity to stay close to the story, as it were, and develop a strong narrative. I love the ups-and-downs you portray. Were the Rovers supporters aware of who you are and what you are doing?

IM: I started very anonymously, just quietly mooching around seeing what was happening. Slowly the fans have become aware of me and what I am up to and I suspect I am viewed with something between mild suspicion and vague curiosity. The pics have been exhibited a few times as well as been published in local and national press, so they are well used to seeing their photographs in the public domain. I also offer a free print to anyone who asks for one by way of thanks as it is the least I can do to repay people for their help. Given that our average gate is around the 400 mark, I’m a bit limited with potential models but try not to feature the same characters too often. There are some brilliant subjects though and amongst my favourites are Andy and Mary. They are real golden-hearted gems who are, as they say in football, 110% loyal to the club, attending fundraising nights and events. Mary swears that by taking her knitting to away games it brings the club good luck. The fans (hopefully) realise that I am not out to embarrass anyone or make them appear foolish – certainly there are often quirky scenes or incidents that present themselves, but I love showing the humanity and warmth this particular group of people have. I guess the project could be about anything – I originally approached a local rugby club – but lucky for me Albion Rovers came along at the right time.

CM: Have you ever thought about widening it to include the playing staff, management, etc. Albion Rovers have had a few great characters down the years: I can imagine a night out with the legendary Vic Kasule might have had the film spinning through your camera! I suppose what I am asking is are you intending to carry on the the series, or do you feel the book marks the final chapter? It’s always difficult to know when to draw a project to a halt. There are usually milestones, after which the photographer takes stock and decides whether it’s worth carrying on. Where are you with it all?

IM: At one point I attempted to contact local people with a view to photographing them and hearing their thoughts about living next to a football stadium. Sadly nobody replied to the leaflets I posted through doors, but it may be worth another push with this idea perhaps offering some kind of incentive. Every time I think about bringing the project to an end a new opportunity arises. This year we are playing some excellent football and are currently holding our own in League 1, which is surprising because we were everyone’s favourites for the drop. So I have had new opportunities to visit new clubs (who are not in League 2) and also had the chance to record last year’s League Championship win, which as you would imagine was a fantastic day for the club and also for photo opportunities. Eventually I’d like to have a large exhibition of the photos – but first need a location and a good editor! The club have been accommodating and really helpful towards me. Provided I am not a nuisance I am allowed to go about my business in a quiet and discreet manner. I have seen various directors, chairmen and managers come and go but I rarely have any dialogue with them, although last week I met one of the directors for the first time when he was helping serve tea and coffee in the players lounge! A recent request to photograph the home, away and referee’s changing rooms was granted without any quibble and I am sure the club see the positive side to the project when we get good media coverage and have exhibitions here and there.

CM: So where can we get a hold of More Than Just A Football Club then?

IM: The 50 page photojournal is available priced £9.99 (+ p&p) from my websiteIt is also available from: Street Level Photoworks, Albion Roversfootball club, Summerlee Museum and Battlefield Framers in Glasgow.

CM: Thanks very much Iain, it’s been great talking to you. Up the Rovers!

Groundsman, Cliftonhill. Albion Rovers v Montrose, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

Groundsman, Cliftonhill, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

 

Albion Rovers v Montrose, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

Albion Rovers v Montrose, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

 

Albion Rovers mascot, 2015. Albion Rovers v Montrose, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

Albion Rovers mascot, 2015. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

 

Berwick Rangers v Albion Rovers, 2011. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

Berwick Rangers v Albion Rovers, 2011. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

 

Rangers v Albion Rovers, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

Rangers v Albion Rovers, 2014. Photograph © Iain McLean, all rights reserved

 

Colin McPherson is “In Conversation With…” writer Kevin Williamson on Thursday 7th April, 2016 at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh at 6pm. Entrey is free.

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Independent day

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To mark today’s final printed edition of the Independent, Document Scotland’s Colin McPherson talks about his contribution to the newspaper and the motivation behind the publication of a book of his photographs taken on assignment for, or published by, the paper.

Document Scotland (DS): Today, 26th March, the last edition of the Independent will hit the streets. What has been your involvement with the paper?

Colin McPherson (CM): I started working on a freelance basis for the ‘Indy’ in 1995. At the time, I was living in Edinburgh and photographing on a regular basis for the Scotsman and Herald newspapers. The first call I took from the picture desk of the Independent was to assign me the not-too-difficult task of taking a picture of St. Bernard’s Well, for a feature about writers’ favourite places. Given that it was a static object, it was pretty hard to get that wrong.

Peat cutters, Lewis, 1996. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

Peat cutters, Lewis, 1996. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

 

DS: From those humble beginnings you quickly started working on a regular basis for the paper. Have you any other recollections of those early days?

CM: Yes. Almost as soon as the assignments came rolling in, my former picture editor at the Edinburgh Evening News and Scotsman, Rod Sibbald, took the reigns at the Indy. We always had a good relationship and we would talk on the phone early each morning to see if or what might be of interest to the paper. It would be too strong to say he relied on my suggestions, but he regularly took them up and sent me off across Scotland to get a stand-alone image or cover some major story. The Indy was still broadsheet format at the time, and the ethos of the paper still meant that pictures were as of much value as words.

DS: Were you shooting in colour then, or was it the trademark black-and-white, for which the Independent was famed for?

CM: It was strange. Right up until the late-1990s, the picture desk would allow you to chose. If I arrived on a job and thought, ‘this will make a cracking black-and-white’ I’d  shoot it like that. For some features, where time wasn’t an issue, I’d even have the luxury of making prints in my darkroom and sending them to London. Unthinkable nowadays. Gradually they wanted everything on the news, features and sports pages shot in colour, which they turned mono on the computer. It was then that the look and quality of the paper began to change.

DS: You must have covered some fascinating events and visited amazing places with your camera!

CM: Yes, I was really fortunate that in those days picture desks would have the trust in you – and generally the budgets – to back your ideas. I spent a few days in Sancta Maria Abbey in East Lothian in March 1996 based on persuasion. The result was a page of pictures in the features section on Easter Saturday, appropriately enough, given the subject matter. I loved travelling to the farthest outposts of Scotland and discovering ways of life which were either frozen in time or disappearing, such as peat cutting, salmon netting and doing a feature on Scotland’s last jute mill, in Dundee shortly before it closed.

Taxi driver, Moldova, 2004. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

Taxi driver, Moldova, 2004. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

 

DS: It was a very explosive time politically in Scotland. And there were other major news stories. Did you cover big events too?

CM: Yes. I was at Dunblane on the day of the primary school shootings, which was really hard. And there was a lot of politics: the campaign to re-establish a parliament in Edinburgh was in full swing and there was Tony Blair’s victory in the 1997 General Election. Every day there seemed to be something going on and eventually it all led to the establishment of the Holyrood parliament and the infamous building project that went with it.

From the Independent Saturday Magazine, 26th March, 2016.

From the Independent Saturday Magazine, 26th March, 2016.

 

DS: You swapped Scotland for England in 2004, but still kept working for the paper. How easy was that?

CM: Not that straightforward. The daily had gone tabloid, not only in format but mentality. The picture editor at the time didn’t seem to value images as much and many of the ‘big beast’ photographers had moved on – the likes of Brian Harris, David Rose, Tom Pilston and John Voos. Luckily, Sophie Batterbury was in charge at the Independent on Sunday and still commissioned me regularly from my base in north west England. Eventually the picture desks of the two titles merged and I was able to work more regularly across both papers again.

DS: What made you decide to publish a book with your images taken on assignment or published in the Independent?

CM: I wanted to do something to commemorate the paper, to mark its passing. It’s an infrequent event, the death of a newspaper and I thought it might be nice to share some of my favourite images. I didn’t want it to be an authoritative history of my involvement, rather some snapshots of life and how its lived. And some humour too.

DS: The book came together quite quickly, how did you make it happen?

CM: The idea came to me to do something almost the day I heard that the Indy was closing. From that moment it was a bit of a scramble to get quotes for printing, decide on the layout and – most importantly and interestingly for me – select which images I wanted to show. I deliberately avoided including too many staged photographs, relying rather on individual pictures which could tell their own story. I wanted some humour in there too and I took a few liberties with the design to include a couple of pairs of images set against each other. At the end-of-the-day it’s a small, self-published book which I hope people will derive some enjoyment from. For me, it’s a keepsake, something to remember happy times out-and-about photographing for a wonderful, friendly newspaper, one which will be sorely missed by many people.

'An Independent Eye'. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

‘An Independent Eye’. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

 

DS: There’s already been quite a lot of interest in the book. Where can we get copies from?

CM:  Yes, it was featured by Phil Coombes on the BBC In Pictures website, and today’s final edition of the Independent Magazine carries a celebration of their photography which contains one of my images, which is very flattering. The book is available exclusively through my website. Get one, before it too disappears!

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Dunblane remembered

1996 Dunblane massacre

Twenty years ago this weekend, on 13th March 1996, a lone gunman entered Dunblane Primary School and shot dead 16 pupils and their teacher, before killing himself. Document Scotland photographer Colin McPherson was one of the first Press photographers on the scene and recalls the impact the day had on the town, its people and himself.

“I was in the offices of the Herald newspaper in Edinburgh on the morning of the shooting. A journalist came into the photographer’s room looking for one of the staff snappers and blurted out that there had been a shooting at a primary school in Dunblane. Within an hour, I had arrived in the small town to be confronted by a wave of panicking parents making their way from all directions towards the school.

“There were around half-a-dozen Press photographers who all arrived simultaneously and soon we were joined by many more, as word spread across the Central Belt of the enormity of the situation. I remember the silence, the only sound being feet scurrying across the roads and pavements. People gathered in numbers, little clusters of parents and children, outside the school perimeter. It all seemed so calm, and yet occasionally you would see people embracing, sobbing and consoling each other. None of the police were armed, yet this was only 90 minutes after the grim events had taken place.

“After a very difficult hour-or-so working on the street outside the gates, watching police, ambulances and people being led into and out of the school, I went round the back of the buildings and found a vantage point to get a shot of the whole site. I was astonished to see children looking out of a classroom window, seemingly oblivious to what had unfolded, guarded by a solitary, uniformed police officer.

“It was a raw, cold day, and the emotion of it all seemed to be frozen. I am sure it was just that no-one could imagine such an event taking place in such a sleepy and pleasant location such as Dunblane. The organised stoicism of people that day, the dignity in the way they conducted themselves, will remain with me forever. It was as if they were immediately aware of the potential of destructive consequences being visited on their community and collectively the people were saying: ‘you will not break us’.

“I don’t remember any particular hostility to the Press in general or photographers in particular. So many of the journalists were parents too, of course, and that solidarity seemed to come through. By the lunchtime of the 13th, writers and photographers from London started arriving and it was time for me to organise developing my films, scanning and sending photos to the Independent.

The enormity of it all didn’t hit me until later that day when I was driving back home in the dark. In those pre-internet days news travelled more slowly, so the first time I ‘caught up’ with the story was on Radio Scotland’s teatime news. The whole thing hit me like a ton of bricks at that point. The rest of the journey was very difficult.

“I was asked to return to Dunblane by the Independent for the next two days, after that the picture editor gave me the chance to cover another story, the Glasgow Science Festival, for which I was very grateful.

“I returned to Dunblane often in the weeks and months after the massacre. There were political and Royal visits, remembrance services and an official inquiry. The images I took that day had a lasting impression on me and my career: the photographs were syndicated by Sygma, and I was asked to join the prestigious agency, for whom I then worked for a number of years.

Twenty years on, I still feel the emotion of that terrible day every time I drive past or near Dunblane. I think of the people and what they suffered and how they rebuilt their lives and their community and hope that no-one has to go through what they went through.”

A young girl is carried away. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

A young girl is carried away. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

 

An ambulance arriving at Dunblane primary school. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

An ambulance arriving at Dunblane primary school. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

 

A crying woman is comforted outside Dunblane primary school. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

A crying woman is comforted outside Dunblane primary school. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

 

A police officer stands guard. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

A police officer stands guard. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

 

A group of adults and children embracing. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

A group of adults and children embracing. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996, all rights reserved.

 

Document Scotland has taken the decision to publish a small selection of Colin’s images to accompany his testimony. We hope that you understand that these are for illustrative purposes and we do not seek to offend or upset anyone by doing so.

 

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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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Cafe Royal Books

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We are delighted to announce that publisher Cafe Royal Books has produced a very special, limited edition box set of work by Document Scotland’s four photographers.

Timed to coincide with our exhibition entitled The Ties That Bind, which opens at the end of September at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, the compendium of work comprises four photo-essays, each with their own distinctive flavour.

The editions were produced as individual publications, but the man behind Cafe Royal Books, publisher Craig Atkinson, has gone the extra mile by bringing the four into one and presenting them in a slim, but stylish box.

The four stories featured are:

North Sea Fishing (Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert)

Aboard the seine netter Argosy. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, 1995, all rights reserved.

Aboard the seine netter Argosy. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 1995, all rights reserved.

 

Dookits (Stephen McLaren)

A solitary dookit. Photograph © Stephen McLaren, 2015, all rights reserved.

A solitary dookit. Photograph © Stephen McLaren 2014, all rights reserved.

 

Tunnock’s (Sophie Gerrard)

Mr Boyd Tunnock. Photograph © Sophie Gerrard 2013, all rights reserved.

Mr Boyd Tunnock. Photograph © Sophie Gerrard 2013, all rights reserved.

 

Sancta Maria Abbey, Nunraw (Colin McPherson)

Monks at dawn prayers in the chapel at Sancta Maria Abbey at Nunraw. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

Monks at dawn prayers in the chapel at Sancta Maria Abbey at Nunraw. Photograph © Colin McPherson 1996 all rights reserved.

 

Each edition will be available to purchase through Cafe Royal Books website and at the SNPG at the launch of our show. The box set – limited to an edition of 50 – is also available directly from the publisher. Grab one quick before they are all snapped up!

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The Ties That Bind

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We are less than a month away from the launch of our forthcoming exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, which opens on 26th September 2015.

Curated by the gallery’s Curator of International Photography, Anne Lyden, The Ties That Bind brings together Document Scotland’s four photographers who each present projects which have been inspired by the period of intense debate and self-examination among Scots, in the run-up to, and aftermath of the Referendum in September 2014. Each photographer – Stephen McLaren, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Colin McPherson and, Sophie Gerrard – has created a body of work which considers a different strand of Scotland’s culture and heritage, and in the process explores very timely questions of personal and national identity.

 

For The Ties That Bind, McLaren, Sutton-Hibbert, McPherson and Gerrard have created four groups of work that consider legacy —Scotland’s role in the slave trade and sugar plantations of Jamaica in the 18th century; tradition —the centuries-old celebration of Border towns in the Common Ridings festivals; engagement —the devotion and commitment from football supporters in small towns and communities across the country; and the land itself —focusing on contemporary farming through the experiences of six women.

Rozelle, Jamaica. Photograph © Stephen McLaren, 2015 all rights reserved.

Rozelle, Jamaica. Photograph © Stephen McLaren, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

A Sweet Forgetting, Stephen McLaren’s project, revolves around the involvement of Scots in the sugar economy of Jamaica in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was built on the back of slave labour from Africa. McLaren spent a month in Jamaica looking for the sites of plantations owned by seven Scots men of that era, before coming back to Scotland to trace how these men spent their wealth, and what is left of this legacy today. McLaren’s photographs largely concentrate on the mansions and estates purchased with funds from the slave trade. One of the plantation owners McLaren studied was the politician and poet Robert Cunninghame Graham (1735-1797), who owned several estates in Scotland as well as a Jamaican plantation at Roaring River and made his fortune from slave plantations. A Sweet Forgetting suggests that Scotland has perhaps largely forgotten how much of its economy was dependent on slave labour in Jamaica. McLaren’s subtle, but provocative work considers Scotland’s past and how it shapes the present, as well as how we choose to remember the past.

Common Riding, Selkirk. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, 2013 all righted reserved.

Common Riding, Selkirk. Photograph © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, 2013 all righted reserved.

 

For Unsullied and Untarnished, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert focused on the Scottish Borders area and its traditional summer festivals, known as the Common Ridings. During the Common Ridings, riders chosen as representatives of their communities symbolically survey the boundaries of the town’s and burgh’s common lands. Participating in the yearly ritual is considered an honour for the local youths; the Common Ridings are an opportunity to represent their community by carrying the standard around the neighbouring borders of the common land, before bringing it back “unsullied and untarnished”. During the festivals, “exiles” return home to partake in events and greetings are often sent by those unable to make the journey, while bonds are re-established with neighbouring towns. Intrigued by the history of the festivals Sutton-Hibbert visited various towns, including Hawick, Selkirk and Jedburgh among others and made portraits of the riders and other participants in traditional outfits. By looking at how the history and sense of community is kept alive, Sutton-Hibbert explores traditions and their legacy in modern society.

'The Cowshed, Greenock Morton. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Cowshed, Greenock Morton. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Colin McPherson’s contribution to The Ties That Bind is entitled When Saturday Comes, after the eponymous football magazine which has commissioned McPherson over the last 10 years to photograph football culture both in Scotland and further afield. An ardent football fan himself, McPherson has used the opportunity to explore the game at all levels, although for this exhibition he has focused on lower-league football and the rituals associated with the sport; his photographs explore the sense of belonging and commitment shown by supporters, players and those charged with running clubs – from Berwick Rangers to Fraserburgh. For a lot of people football is an experience first encountered at the community level of village youth clubs and small town teams. As a weekend ritual it draws people together on the stands or grassy verges in all weather and seasons to celebrate or commiserate over the game at hand. This sense of engagement and loyalty is one that is echoed around the land every Saturday.

Sarah, Isle of Eigg. Photograph © Sophie Gerrard, 2015 all rights reserved.

Sarah, Isle of Eigg. Photograph © Sophie Gerrard, 2015 all rights reserved.

 

The fourth project in The Ties That Bind, Drawn to the Land, is Sophie Gerrard’s ongoing exploration of women in the contemporary Scottish landscape. Gerrard’s photographs offer a glimpse into the lives of six women farmers in a variety of Scottish settings (Argyll, Perthshire, the Scottish Borders, the Isle of Eigg and the Isle of Mull), and how they shape, and are shaped by, their surroundings. Working as hill farmers with responsibility for remote and diverse parts of the land, these women identify as custodians rather than as landowners, and often talk of being drawn to the hill. For Drawn to the Land, Gerrard set out to understand her own connection with the Scottish landscape, which is often seen as a symbol of national identity and nostalgia. To explore the topic she chose to focus on female farmers, often under-represented in the UK despite the number of women in farming increasing significantly in recent years. Through each of these women’s compelling stories, Drawn to the Land presents an emotional response to this country’s rugged mountains and remote lochs and islands and a wider story of Scotland’s national identity.

 

While the work touches on the political landscape around the Referendum, the images do not affirm any one position, but seek to portray a multiplicity of views that portray the complex challenges and subtle nuances surrounding the larger debate. Together these images create a compelling dialogue about Scotland, its people, diversity and culture, and reveal the subtle nuances that shape a nation’s identity.

 

Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, said: “Document Scotland has impressively addressed through The Ties That Bind some key themes about belonging and history, the resonance of Scottish heritage and diversity of community life across the country today. Their work demonstrates the outstanding quality of contemporary documentary photography and its ability to provoke us to think about issues of individual and collective identity.”

 

Document Scotland: The Ties That Bind is part of the IPS (Institute for Photography in Scotland) 2015 Season of Photography, a series of exhibitions and events taking place across Scotland from April to September 2015. The exhibition will run until 24th April, 2016. Admission is free.

 

Document Scotland would like to acknowledge and thank Creative Scotland and the University of St. Andrews Library’s Special Collection for supporting the making of the work for The Ties That Bind.

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Another layer of steel

Andy Scott's Steel Man

During the spring and summer of 2014, I spent several months exploring the site of the former Ravenscraig steelworks in Lanarkshire.

Once Europe’s largest hot strip mill, the British Steel plant employed thousands of men – and some women – in what was commonly regarded as Scotland’s industrial heart from when it opened in 1957 to its controversial closure in 1992. When it shut, the surrounding area was devastated economically and socially and after the site was cleared in 1996, lay derelict and neglected for many years.

My project looked at the Ravenscraig site today and the people who were endeavouring to bring the area back to life. I photographed and interviewed people who had worked in the plant, as well as those now studying, working and living at the college, sports centre, businesses and housing estates slowly springing up on a site which is double the size of the principality of Monaco.

Andy Scott welding Steel Man in his studio workshop. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Andy Scott welding Steel Man in his studio workshop. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

 

The result of my work was The Fall and Rise of Ravenscraig which was exhibited as part of Document Scotland’s Common Ground exhibition at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow in the autumn of 2014. As with many projects, the story didn’t seem to end there. In the run up to the show, I had met Andy Scott, the acclaimed Scottish sculptor whose most celebrated work, the giant Kelpies statues was one of my favourite pieces of public art in the world.

I discovered that Andy was working on a new piece, which had been commissioned by a group of people connected with the steel industry in Lanarkshire, who wanted to make a commemorative statue to honour those who had lost their lives in the service of iron and steel making in Scotland. When I first visited Andy’s studio workshop in Glasgow, the parallels with steel making were instantly apparent: welding gear, safety equipment, heat and sparks flying everywhere. And before my eyes, rivet-by-rivet, Steel Man was taking shape.

Andy Scott during a break whilst working on Steel man. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Andy Scott during a break whilst working on Steel Man. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

 

The major difference was scale: whilst Andy painstakingly crafted his statue with the precision of a jeweller, Ravenscraig was a belching furnace, a difficult and dangerous place of work, where many injuries were sustained and lives lost. Notwithstanding that places like Ravenscraig produced the steel which made everything from airplanes to washing machines and powered Scotland’s economy, those that worked there did so out of necessity, not choice. They also had no choice when the plant closed. Some took redundancy, some left the area to find employment and many simply never worked again.

Andy Scott working in his studio workshop in Glasgow. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Andy Scott working in his studio workshop in Glasgow. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

 

As the statue progressed during the spring of 2015, it became apparent to me that it was not only a timely memorial to the past but a symbol of hope for the future. Ravenscraig today may not be the site of an economic powerhouse, but slowly, surely it is coming back to life. Steel Man is a poignant reminder of what has gone before, but as a piece of art by one of Scotland’s best-regarded contemporary creative minds, it offers us a glimpse of what is possible if a group of people are determined to make something happen. The fundraising effort to bring Steel Man to life involved people from the old industry and those determined that the site should have a positive future.

Steel Man taking shape in Andy Scott's studio workshop. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Steel Man taking shape in Andy Scott’s studio workshop. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Steel Man was finally unveiled at a moving and celebratory ceremony in June 2015, when the statue was shown off for the first time. Former steelworkers, trade unionists, religious and civic leaders were joined by local school pupils, supporters of the project and Andy Scott himself, who talked about the statue and how much it meant to him to create. There were prayers and dedications to those who had perished and as the wind whistled around, it was not difficult to image in noise, dust, smoke and heat of Ravenscraig past.

For me, it was another fascinating layer to the story of Ravenscraig, one which I first became acquainted with on a hot July afternoon in 1996, when the Independent commissioned me to photograph the destruction of the iconic cooling towers by controlled explosion. It took me fully two decades to return to Motherwell to take up the story again, but if I hadn’t, I would not have encountered so many interesting and inspirational people, and I would not have met Steel Man either.

Coverage of the making of Steel Man in the Independent. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Coverage of the making of Steel Man in the Independent. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Workmen preparing for the Steel Man unveiling. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Workmen preparing for the Steel Man unveiling. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Pipers welcome guests to the Steel Man unveiling. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Pipers welcome guests to the Steel Man unveiling. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Flowers growing on the Ravenscraig site. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Flowers growing on the Ravenscraig site. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Former steelworkers gather at the unveiling. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Former steelworkers and their families gather at the unveiling. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

The unveiling ceremony of Steel Man. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

The unveiling ceremony of Steel Man. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Andy Scott and Steel Man at the official unveiling. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

Andy Scott and Steel Man at the official unveiling at Ravenscraig. Photograph © Colin McPherson 2015, all rights reserved.

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The History Woman

Nicola Sturgeon meets with her dress makers  Totty Rocks before being voted in as Scotland's First Minister. Photograph © Peter McNally, 2014, all rights reserved.

Nicola Sturgeon meets with her dress makers Totty Rocks before being voted in as Scotland’s First Minister. Photograph © Peter McNally 2014, all rights reserved.

 

As the 2015 UK General Election campaign gathers pace, we are being bombarded by soundbites and overwhelmed by statistics whilst politicians appear on every television screen, newspaper and website we look at. There’s no getting away from politics, for the next couple of months, at least.

So we at Document Scotland are going to add to mix by showcasing work by Glasgow-based photographer Peter McNally, who has been granted unprecedented access to photograph one of the pivotal figures in the current contest for votes: Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

 

Nicola Sturgeon, on stage at the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh. Photograph © Peter McNally, 2014, all rights reserved.

Nicola Sturgeon, on stage at the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh. Photograph © Peter McNally 2014, all rights reserved.

 

The story starts during the Independence referendum campaign, when Peter was one of a small team of dedicated photographers working on behalf of the National Collective to document its campaigning activities as it sought to persuade Scots to vote Yes. Through this, Peter was able to make a visual record of the campaign, and in so doing, got close to the people making the news. Little did he know at the time, but his work was being noticed by the leaders of Yes Scotland and the SNP.

In the dramatic aftermath of the 18th September 2014 vote, Alex Salmond resigned and his then deputy, Nicola Sturgeon was elevated to the position of First Minister. This followed on directly from a nationwide tour which the party undertook, with Sturgeon speaking at packed venues and the party’s annual conference. By this time, Peter had already been contacted and offered the opportunity to photograph behind-the-scenes. It was a chance he grabbed gladly. As Peter explained: “The SNP tour was a first of its kind in Scottish and British politics and saw Nicola visit Edinburgh, Dumfries, Dundee, Inverness, Glasgow and Aberdeen whilst engaging directly with the public with a talk then an open question-and-answer session.” Shortly into the assignment Nicola Sturgeon became the SNP party leader at the party’s National Conference in Perth then soon after that, Scotland’s first female First Minister. Peter was on hand to capture it all.

Nicola Sturgeon waiting for an interview inside the BBC radio mobile studio. Photograph © Peter McNally, 2014 all rights reserved.

Nicola Sturgeon waiting for an interview inside the BBC radio mobile studio. Photograph © Peter McNally 2014, all rights reserved.

 

In terms of creating an archive of images from an historic moment, the SNP saw the value of what they were proposing through Peter’s work. As Peter noted: “The SNP team were interested in developing both an in-house style of photography they could have as a go-to resource and also a historic documentation that would act as a public record.” But there’s realpolitik involved too, according to Peter: “The project also fits in well with Nicola’s own vision of a more accessible and transparent governance.”

Selfies with supporters, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. Photograph © Peter McNally, 2014 all rights reserved.

Selfies with supporters, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness. Photograph © Peter McNally 2014, all rights reserved.

 

Peter’s work is set to continue and is being updated continually on the internet, as he explained: “Right now we are focusing on documenting campaign events in the run up to the General Election in May. My own vision is to not only tell the story that is front and centre but to try and capture moments behind the scenes. I hope this will make for a more complete and hopefully interesting look at this one section of Scottish politics. Currently it’s been so busy with the General Election campaign that we haven’t really had time to discuss how the project might progress. There have been informal discussion about documenting more in depth on a day-to-day basis and even setting up a dedicated team to deal with editing and archiving. As it’s an SNP project I am funded by them but the parliament have their own photographers so there may be a need to work more closely with them in the future.”

 Nicola's husband Peter Murrell proudly looks on as Nicola thanks friends and family at a reception in Bute House. Photograph © Peter McNally, 2014 all rights reserved.

Nicola’s husband Peter Murrell proudly looks on as Nicola thanks friends and family at a reception in Bute House. Photograph © Peter McNally 2014, all rights reserved.

 

As Peter concludes: “We are also in the process of organising an archive on Flickr. There are lots of idea out there. I think after the General Election we will be able sit down and see how we would like to progress. There are also opportunities for exhibiting and publishing a photo book, something I am keen to work on. For now though, I’ll keep shooting and try to keep it interesting for people.”

The First Minister's portrait is added to the walls at the official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh.  Photograph © Peter McNally, 2014 all rights reserved.

The First Minister’s portrait is added to the walls at the official residence at Bute House in Edinburgh. Photograph © Peter McNally 2014, all rights reserved.

 

If you are interested in keeping up with Peter’s work you can visit the official SNP photo archive on flickr and follow Peter’s work on Instagram or on his website.

 

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Fitba’ daft

Tartan Army goal celebrations in the Faroe Islands. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2007 all rights reserved.

Tartan Army goal celebrations in the Faroe Islands. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2007 all rights reserved.

 

To most right-thinking people, all it involves is 22 men (or women) chasing an inflated leather sphere around a grassy field in a pointless physical activity of no consequence. To the rest of us it’s an obsession: football, otherwise known as our national sport.

I’ve been bewitched by the sport since my dad took me to my first match, as a 10-year-old in November 1974. I remember little of the game itself, other than Hibs defeated Morton 5-0 and it was raining and I ate a Wagon Wheel. Since that day I’ve attended hundreds of matches, mostly as a spectator but also many in a professional capacity, commissioned to photograph everything from top international fixtures, to obscure matches at n0n-League grounds in places which are little more than a dot on the map.

View from The Rock of Dumbarton v Cowdenbeath. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2012 all rights reserved.

View from The Rock of Dumbarton v Cowdenbeath. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2012 all rights reserved.

 

For the last decade, I’ve worked on a monthly basis for a football publication whose roots stretch back to the intoxicating days of the 1980s, when a generation of activists began self-publishing fanzines on every subject from music, UFOs, cinema, fashion and football. And so it was that When Saturday Comes (WSC) magazine began life in 1986. Over the past almost 30 years it has grown to become a much-loved and respected feature of the soccer season. With a mix of irreverent humour and critical analysis debunking much of the hype of the modern day football industry, it has seen an army of contributors commentating on the game from their own unique standpoint. Many writers have gone on to make careers in mainstream journalism and the alumni from the WSC academy includes top columnists, celebrities and even a former cabinet minister.

Alloa Athletic take on Aberdeen in the shadow of the Ochils. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2010 all rights reserved.

Alloa Athletic take on Aberdeen in the shadow of the Ochils. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2010 all rights reserved.

 

As the magazine grew and developed, photography was added to the monthly offering. Each edition now carries two features which rely on images to make them work: the eponymous Match of the Month and Shot! – an often wry look at life behind the scenes at football clubs across the UK and beyond. Now, the entire collection of photography shot principally by the magazines’ four regular photographers has been put together into an archive of historical and contemporary images, which is launched officially this week.

Berwick's duel identity on display. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2014 all rights reserved.

Berwick’s duel identity on display. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2014 all rights reserved.

 

Each season WSC usually focuses on a number of stories from Scotland and it’s been me who is normally tasked with shooting features from my homeland. Most recent assignments have included the national team’s victory over the Republic of Ireland in a European Championship qualifying match at Celtic Park and a look at the duel identity of English-based Scottish League side Berwick Rangers, shot in the run up to the Independence referendum. Very different fixtures but a similar ethos and aesthetic when it comes to the approach and final edit of pictures.

Hibs fans look on as a gull looks the other way at easter Road. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2006 all rights reserved.

Hibs fans look on as a gull looks the other way at Easter Road. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2006 all rights reserved.

 

Whether its shooting an international match or something from the lower leagues, the brief is always the same: to present images which reflect the supporters’ experience of the games they attend. And while the magazine may be headquartered in London, its regular coverage of Scottish football has ensured an enduring and loyal readership north of the border.

Boiler suits and bouncers at Fraserburgh FC. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2010 all rights reserved.

Boiler suits and bouncers at Fraserburgh FC. Photo © Colin McPherson, 2010 all rights reserved.

 

This weekend I will once again be covering a match in Scotland, at one of the country’s most iconic and traditional stadiums. To find out where he will be, however, you’ll have to purchase the next edition of WSC, due out in early-March.

 

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The Road Ahead

 

Snow-capped Ben Cruachan seen from Glen Lonan on 28. December 2014 by Colin McPherson.

Snow-capped Ben Cruachan seen from Glen Lonan on 28. December 2014 by Colin McPherson.

 

It was, we were constantly reminded in the media and elsewhere, a year like no other. Certainly, for those of us who wield a camera for a living or for enjoyment – or both – there was no shortage of subject matter on which we could focus our energies on in Scotland in 2014.

From the Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup, Year of Homecoming, Bannockburn Commemoration to the major political event of our age, the Independence referendum, Scottish photographers and photographers working in Scotland were spoilt for choice. And beyond those headline events, there were countless spin-off stories to be covered and ideas to be explored. As a result, work made here was in demand both at home an internationally. Hardly a week went by when images by Scottish photographers wasn’t featured in the most prestigious and widely-read publications around the globe.

Scotland the brave? On the Referendum trail with Document Scotland's Stephen McLaren, 2014

Scotland the brave? On the Referendum trail with Document Scotland’s Stephen McLaren, 2014.

 

At the same time, galleries, institutions and organisations stepped up to the plate to produce and exhibit work which engaged audiences and distilled the themes and current trends in photography in Scotland. Street Level Photoworks continued to be be a major hub, staging events and showing photography which pulled together many strands and tapped into the 2014 Glasgow buzz. Both Stills Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh had vibrant programmes on display and ended the year with two shows which looked beyond our borders to bring acclaimed work by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse (Ponte City) and Chloe Dewe Mathews (Shot At Dawn). At internal and external locations across the country, the photographic image took centre stage in 2014.

Scotland's future: Sophie Gerrard's study of the nations youth who had their say in 2014.

Scotland’s future: Sophie Gerrard’s study of the nation’s youth who had their say in 2014.

 

At what of Document Scotland? It would take more than one short blog to chronicle everything we produced or participated in during a frenetic year. The stand-outs were our solo show at Impressions Gallery in Bradford (Beyond the Border) and our collaboration with Welsh collective A Fine Beginning at Street Level Photoworks (Common Ground). The spin-off from these major events were the salon evening we staged at diverse locations across Scotland, from a community hall on a tiny, car-free island in Argyll, to the sell-out event at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in early summer. At all our salon events, we had the pleasure of showing not only our current work, but new and historic photography made by numerous celebrated, established or emerging practitioners, such as Sarah Amy Fishlock, Emily Macinnes, Ben Roberts, Arpita Shah and many, many others. As with the salon events, Document Scotland’s collaborative modus operandi continued to extend to our website, which showcased projects, essays and exhibitions by Scottish photographers and photography made in Scotland. These projects also spawned a hefty publication: Common Ground, an 84-page compendium, which told the story of Document Scotland’s year, set against the fascinating and turbulent events swirling around us.

Who do you think you are? Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert on the trail of the common ridings in 2014

Who do you think you are? Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert followed the common ridings around the Borders in 2014.

 

Document Scotland were grateful to receive support from a number of sources which enabled us to put together our programme of events and realise our ideas in 2014. Principal amongst these were Creative Scotland and the University of St. Andrews Library’s Special Collections department, as well as all the organisations we collaborated with throughout the year. It was especially gratifying to think that so much of the photography we made during 2014 will now reside in the internationally-acclaimed photographic archive in St. Andrews as a result of our partnership with them.

So how do we follow all that? Certainly the political focus on Scotland will be softer through 2015, although with both a General Election and elections to the Scottish Parliament on the horizon, the Referendum backwash promises to be fascinating. Beyond those narrow confines, it’s not difficult to imagine that Scottish photographers will have plenty to pick over after last year’s feast. There will be a season of photography in Edinburgh for starters and at the end of that programme, Document Scotland’s first solo show on Scottish soil will launch in late-September at SNPG’s Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery. Each of our four photographers will be presenting new images which reference the projects they have been working on over the last couple of years. There will be a programme of artists talks, salon events and more, all currently in the planning. As always, we’ll be out-and-about engaging with Scottish photography and looking for work to highlight on our website and blog. If you have anything you think we may be interested in, please get in touch.

In the meantime, Document Scotland wishes you a Happy New Year and all the best for a wonderful, successful and fulfilling 2015. Slainte!

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