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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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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Salon event 2016

Our Salon events for 2016 start next month, and we are delighted to be partnering with the University of Highlands and Islands to bring you events across Scotland. On the 18th February 2016 we will be hosting an event from Perth College which will be streamed live to venues across Scotland.

We hope you’ll be able to join us!

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Please jois us in Perth or at any of the venues here;

Room 325, Perth College UHI, Creiff Road, Perth, PH1 2NX  tel: 0845 270 1177

Inverness College UHI, 1 Inverness Campus, Inverness, IV2 5NA tel: 01463 273 000

Moray College UHI, Moray Street, Elgin, Moray, IV30 1JJ tel: 01343 576 000

Orkney College UHI, East Road, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1LX tel: 01856 569 000

Shetland College UHI, Gremista, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0PX tel: 01595 771 000

Lews Castle College UHI, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, HS2 0XR tel: 01851 770 000

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Common Ground Exhibition – Part Two!

Happy 2016 everyone – to kick start this year Document Scotland have once again joined forces with our good friends the Welsh collective A Fine Beginning. Continuing our theme of collaboration and partnership to show our exhibition Common Ground.

The exhibition opening evening (to which you are all most welcome) is on Thuesday 4th February at 6pm at Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5AL.

The show was first exhibited at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow from August to October in 2014.

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It will now travel to Wales to be shown at The Millennium Centre in Cardiff from 5th February – 10th April 2016. Where Document Scotland and a Fine Beginning will also deliver a series of FREE talks and portfolio reviews.

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The publication to accompany this exciting collaboration, also called Common Ground, is on sale via our website, and at various retail outlets across Scotland.

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Here’s the press release for the Cardiff phase, Part 2, of Common Ground.

We hope you can join us at one or more of the events.

Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-1 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-2 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-3 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-4 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-5 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-6 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-7 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-8 Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-9

As ever thank you to our partners and funders.

 

 

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National Galleries events – Curators’ Tour

On Thursday 14th January 2016 Anne Lyden, International Photography Curator of our exhibition “The Ties That Bind” currently on at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, will lead a tour of the exhibition from 5pm – 5:30pm.

All are welcome – this event is FREE.

For more information please see here

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National Galleries events – Malcolm Dickson talk

Malcolm Dickson, director of Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow will give a lunchtime talk on 13th January at The Scottish National Galleries to accompany our exhibition “The Ties That Bind” currently on at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery. All are welcome – this event is FREE.

For more information please see here

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Mother Father, by Lucie Rachel

At a recent Street Level Photoworks ‘In Focus’ event, looking at book publishing, which we attended, we had the pleasure of listening to Lucie Rachel discuss her book-in-progress, ‘Mother Father’, a story documenting the relationship of her parents. Impressed with the work, and Lucie’s approach, we asked if we could showcase it here. Lucie kindly agreed….

 

Mother Father

Mother Father, by Lucie Rachel.

LucieRachel_2_BookSpread

 

Mother Father tells the story of my parents’ relationship through recent and archive
photographs, letters, diary exerts and online blog entries from both before and after my
father came out as transgender. Beginning with recent photographs of my Mother holding
her diary open on the page they met in 1979, the documentation follows the couple through
marriage, children, coming out and separation, finally leaving them in 2015.

 

LucieRachel_3_BookSpread

LucieRachel_4_BookSpread

The creation of the book was almost unintentional; a natural bi-product of my art practice.
I began working with my parents in 2013, almost two years after their separation. It was at
this time that I realised I knew very little about either of them and even less about their
relationship, especially from the years before my sister and I had become a part of it.
Through curiosity and an overwhelming desire to know and understand, the project began.
Originally I had no thoughts of making a book; I simply collected photos that I liked or felt
were insightful into an album, with no order or narration, which gradually grew in the
background into a substantial folder of material. Over a year later it had expanded to the
point of being a work in its own right. A compilation of photos, letters, blog and diary
entries which tell a story of love, hardship and acceptance, that I feel deserves to be told.

‘Without love, life has no purpose’ was the guiding principle of my Mother’s youth. Her
naive pursuit of true love was endearingly hopeless, built upon the foundations of
Hollywood cliches and Bronte novels. So when she met my Father on the eve of the New
Year 1976, she honestly believed she had found ‘the one’. Of course, reality never quite
matches up with expectations and her idyllic notions of married life were left to flounder in
the unpredictable but extraordinary relationship that was to follow.

 

Mother holding open her diary March 19th 1976, describing her first date with my father. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

Mother holding open her diary March 19th 1976, describing her first date with my
father. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Lovers enjoying the summer of 1976, captured by a family friend. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

Lovers enjoying the summer of 1976, captured by a family friend. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Their frst child arrives, feeling blessed they have a daughter. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

Their first child arrives, feeling blessed they have a daughter. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Fortunately, this was an exceptionally well documented partnership. My mother kept a
diary, intimately documenting their seemingly normal relationship. Likewise, my Father
rarely removed the camera throughout most of their time together, not to mention the
many letters penned to my Mother during her college years which still sleep under her bed.

 

Alone in bed; my father behind the camera. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

Alone in bed; my father behind the camera. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Taken by my 4 year old self, oblivious to what I was capturing. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

Taken by my 4 year old self, oblivious to what I was capturing. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

However, during their fifth year together there happened a somewhat unusual revelation,
when my father came out to my mother as transgender. Unsurprisingly, this changed the
fundamental dynamics of their relationship and diverted them on a journey neither one of
them could have anticipated. The chronicling of the relationship was continued thereafter
in the form of an online blog kept by my father and further private writings by my mother.
The subsequent collection of materials follows their relationship from the exhilarating
highs of young love and through the turbulent waters of domesticity.

 

My father's frst pair of heels are still her favourite. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

My father’s first pair of heels are still her favourite. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

My father in her kitchen exuding discomfort; unable to be her true self in the moment I hold my camera. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

My father in her kitchen exuding discomfort; unable to be her true self in the
moment I hold my camera. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Exhausted after our evening out, she removes most of her make up - but forgets the necklace. From 'Mother, Father' by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

Exhausted after our evening out, she removes most of her make up – but forgets
the necklace. From ‘Mother Father’ by Lucie Rachel. ©Lucie Rachel 2015, all rights reserved.

 

Mother Father is also accompanied by a short film with the same title, in which my parents
talk retrospectively about their relationship. The book is currently in the Dundee Artists’
Book Collection in the VRC at Dundee Contemporary Arts and the film has been shown at
several film festivals this year including Aesthetica Short Film Festival and Underwire
Festival, gaining award nominations at both. The work will next be exhibited together at
the Royal Scottish Academy’s New Contemporaries Exhibition in March 2016.

At present, I am working on a short documentary about my own father-daughter
relationship with The Scottish Documentary Institute‘s Bridging The Gap programme,
which will premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival in May 2016.

 

Lucie Rachel can be contacted via Twitter and via her website.

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Sophie on BBC Landward and BBC Radio Scotland

This month Document Scotland’s exhibition ‘The Ties That Bind’  at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh has been featured on BBC TV and Radio. Sophie was filmed talking about her long term project about women, farming and the landscape, ‘Drawn To The Land’ on BBC1’s Landward and was interviewed for Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors program. Watch and listen again here…. !

 

BBC Landward

Sophie spent a very wet and windy couple of days filming with the wonderful Sybil MacPherson, a hillfarmer in Argyll with the crew from BBC Landward. You can see the film here, with Sophie talking about her work with the presenter Sarah Mack from about 22:00 minutes in.

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Watch the episode of BBC Landward on BBC iPlayer now.

“I’m delighted that Landward were interested in my project, after long discussions with the producer, Clare who had visited the exhibition and was curious about the work, we arranged a couple of days in November when we could meet with Sybil and do some filming on her remote and beautiful hillfarm near Dalmally. Sybil’s story and her relationship with the land she works and farms is fascinating. The 5 munros which make up her farm have been farmed by her family for over 175 year. There are ruins on the hill where her grandfather went to school. It’s a place full of history and full of connection which is why I thought it would be great to hear more from Sybil and introduce her to the Landward team. The fact that it turned out to be the wettest day I’ve seen in Argyll for some time wasn’t ideal – that it doesn’t even look that bad on tv is annoying!”

 

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BBC Landward presenter Sarah Mack with hill farmer Sybil MacPherson, Dalmally, Argyll © Sophie Gerrard 2015 all rights reserved.

“Having never done any TV before I was struck by how long everything took – there was quite a lot of back and forth, re-shooting, “say that again”, “drive over that bridge again and again”. So I’m hugely grateful to Sybil for taking time out of her busy week to allow this piece to be filmed. It was interesting seeing how it all worked, piecing together the parts of the interview and also seeing how they would include my photographs in the piece.”

 

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Colin, the BBC Landward camera man, films Sybil as she packs and rolls fleeces on her hill farm near Dalmally. © Sophie Gerrard 2015 all rights reserved.

“I hope what the filming does is introduce the project and my reasons behind shooting it. Women are under represented in farming. Commonly referred to as ‘farmers’ wives’ and seen as having a behind the scenes role. Sybil and the other women in my project are front and centre, they make life and death decisions every day. They are engineers, midwives, business women, decision makers and forward thinkers. The common sense of responsibility for the work they do, and to the landscape and the livestock is something that all the women in my project share. All of them talk as custodians, of having a sense that they are looking after this land for future generations. I have a huge respect for them and the work they do. It’s been a privilege and an honour to work with them and I look forward to continuing the project.”

Sophie Gerrard

 

 

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Clare, Colin and Sarah, the BBC Landward crew with Sybil, Dalmally November 2015 © Sophie Gerrard all rights reserved.

 

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Sophie with Sybil and the crew. Dalmally November 2015

BBC Out Of Doors

Sophie met with journalist Claire White of BBC Radio Scotland at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to talk some more about her experience of photographing the 6 women included in the project over the last 2 and a half years. You can listen to this interview here, Sophie and Claire discus ‘Drawn To The Land’ from about 7:38 minutes in.

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Listen to the episode of BBC Scotland ‘Out of Doors’ on BBC Radio iPlayer now.

 

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Claire White from BBC Radio Scotland interviewing Sophie at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

“I really enjoyed talking to Claire from Out of Doors about my work. Claire and I spent a really short time in the gallery talking about the work. I’ve done a little bit of radio before, and I’ve interviewed people many time using voice recorders – this just felt a much more comfortable way of talking to the media about my work.

Claire asked some really interesting questions, and picked up on some important aspects of the work. It’s always interesting meeting people who are interested in my work, and who then spot things in the work, or pick up on visual clues within images. Claire certainly did that, and in the interview you can hear her reading the clusters of images on the wall and getting an impression of the women I’ve photographed.

I was grateful for the time she took, and the interest in the project. I hope this reaches an audience who might want to come and see the work at the Portrait Gallery or look at it on my website, and take a little time to get know these women and their stories.

Thank you Claire and your team for the feature.”

 

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Sophie with Claire White from BBC Scotland Out Of Doors, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

 

Thank you BBC1 and BBC Radio Scotland for featuring Drawn To The Land, both programs are available on iPlayer.

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What the papers say!

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Document Scotland’s latest exhibition – The Ties That Bind, curated by Anne Lyden and currently on at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has now been open for over a month. We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the response. Thank you all of you who have already visited – and to those of you who haven’t had the chance – it’s on until 24th April 2016 so there’s plenty of time.

 

Here’s some selected press and reviews of the exhibition so far…

 

David Pollock interviewed Document Scotland and wrote an insightful article about the exhibition in The Independent

Janet Christie wrote an in depth article in The Scotland on Sunday about each of the Document Scotland photographers’ work.

Duncan McMillan gave ‘The Ties That Bind’ a 4 star review in The Scotsman

A review of ‘The Ties That Bind’ is featured in Photomonitor written by Dr Katherine Parhar

The exhibition was featured on the BBC: In Pictures feature by Phil Coomes

 

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The Ties That Bind’ was featured in The List Magazine

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert’s work ‘Unsullied & Untarnished’ was featured by The Daily Record

The Photographers’ Gallery featured Sophie Gerrard’s project ‘Drawn To The Land’

Stephen McLaren’s project ‘A Sweet Forgetting’ was featured in The New York Times Lens Blog

 

 

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The National newspaper also featured a piece on Stephen McLaren’s project ‘A Sweet Forgetting’

As did The Sunday Herald – which featured ‘A Sweet Forgetting’ on the cover story of its weekend magazine one year on from the Referendum. 

Sophie Gerrard was interviewed by Annie Brown of The Daily Record for an in depth article about her project ‘Drawn To The Land’

The British Journal of Photography also featured a beautifully written article on Sophie Gerrard’s work by Jamie Dunn

 

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Brighton Photoworks interviewed Sophie Gerrard about ‘Drawn To The Land’, you can see a slide show here. 

An article on the exhibition by Kevin McKenna was featured in The National newspaper

Colin McPherson was featured in a BBC film by Dan Curtis about his project ‘When Saturday Comes’ – watch it here

 

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ITV News featured Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert’s work ‘Unsullied & Untarnished’

Jeremy’s book of the same name was reviewed by The Scotsman

And ‘Unsullied & Untarnished’ was also reviewed in Photomonitor by Dr Katherine Parhar. 

 

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Please remember….  we encourage photography in the exhibition and for you to share your views, thoughts, and images on social networks. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

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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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Collecting The Gorbals.

A Stroll Through The Gorbals

To walk in the Gorbals area of Glasgow is to walk through a district of this city immortalised in iconic photographs, a district whose name is known far and wide, for better or for worse, and whose history has been captured in silver by some of the great photojournalists of the British post-War years. I couldn’t help but ruminate on this while there, in the Gorbals (and why is it always the Gorbals, never just Gorbals?), during a recent photographic assignment.

Radical Independence Campaign mass canvassing in support of Scottish independence, in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland, June 2014. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

Radical Independence Campaign mass canvassing in support of Scottish independence, in the Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland, June 2014. ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2014, all rights reserved.

 

I was there to photograph canvassing and leafleting by supporters of the Radical Independence Campaign during the run-up to the recent referendum on Scottish independence. It was a sunny day, a Sunday, the streets had colour from the flowers people tended in gardens and from the colour of the shutters on a modern-designed apartment block. It was a million miles from some of those iconic images I carried with me in my mind, of Oscar Marzaroli’s fifty-odd Shades of Grey, or Bert Hardy’s two little ragamuffin boys forever linked arm-in-arm heading off on an immortal chore.

 

The Gorbals, © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2014, all rights reserved.

The Gorbals, © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2014, all rights reserved.

 

The Gorbals, © Chris Leslie 2008, all rights reserved.

The Gorbals, © Chris Leslie 2008, all rights reserved.

 

As I walked the streets it was impossible to recognise any landmarks from those iconic photographs, all had changed, all had gone, buildings torn down and their inhabitant’s memories moved on. All that was left to remember of those earlier times were the black and white images and the infamous tales they tell of poverty and deprivation, of children finding hope and entertainment on heaps of rubble and within chalked games on walls.

No one perhaps knows these Gorbals images better that Neil Carragher, a native of Hamilton, Scotland, but now retired and living in Canada. For the past decade or so Neil and his wife Blanche have worked hard amassing a collection of vintage photographs of the Gorbals and know the streets well. After my own sojourn around the same-but-different streets, photographing in digital colour, I spoke with Neil about their print collection.

Neil’s interest in these photographs stemmed, perhaps not so unsurprisingly, from originally collecting over a 30-year period art work by the Scottish colourists, and from owning “six or seven Joan Eardley paintings, one of which was a little boy with baggy pants hitched up, an old belt, an orange sweater and a skelly eye. It was so touching. I bought that one just when my mother died which was about 1993 and I still have it here in my collection. I love Joan Eardley’s work.

“I’ve travelled fairly extensively and left Glasgow immediately after my first degree, and I went to London and then to Switzerland. Putting that Scottish collection together helped me keep in touch with Scotland I guess. I knew all the dealers and auction houses over the years, but when my mother died I bought that little Scottish Joan Eardley. It was a chalk drawing on glass paper. And as I kept looking at that I kept remembering the areas of Glasgow that I knew when I went to university between 1956-1960 in Glasgow, which was just about the end of the Gorbals.”

I wondered if Neil had moved onto collecting the prints of Marzaroli’s street waifs and Bert Hardy’s street urchins as he had been one himself. But no, Neil explained, “I think you have to give that to Joan Eardley, as I had about half a dozen of her drawings and paintings, and the more I looked at them the more I remembered my childhood. So I wasn’t part of the Gorbals, but I did observe and when I was at university I stayed in Townhead, so used to see those children playing around outside. So when I started, I’m a keen photographer myself, mostly a travel photographer, so I decided that there had to be some remnants or there had to be some record of the Gorbals and Glasgow at those times existing. So I started a search which during the first few years was very painful indeed because I couldn’t get anything. I went to all the newspapers… but I discovered all, most of the newspapers as they were taken over by English and American companies, destroyed their old images. It’s scandalous, it’s the heritage gone. Those reporters should have been in the middle of it…”

But to be a collector is to not be put off easily, the hunt is after all sometimes the reward itself. Neil continued, “so I managed to contact Oscar Marzaroli’s widow, through a film maker friend and she was very reluctantly to see me but after a while she realised I was quite serious and I met her several times and she gave me access to the files that, the photos that Oscar left, which are a good part of my collection. Some of them, he did his own printing, so some of them are not brilliant, but certainly they are the original stuff. I loved his photographic eye. So I think I got more or less the cream of the crop from her and she told me basically he only had one showing since the time he died and he didn’t sell any from that, so it thought that was pretty scandalous too.” As with many artists it seems to achieve success or fame, Neil remarked, “you have to die first.”

But Neil’s collection has grown large over the years, Marzaroli’s images were “the start and I had to go to England to find photojournalists who had been sent up to Scotland after the war to photograph the worst slums in Europe. And through various methods I managed to contact one or two of the widows of those photojournalists. And I also got a collection, which had come from the old Picture Post magazine, which ended up in Chicago. And I bought a bunch of those from a professional photographic dealer in Chicago and also in New York. But none of those old photographs came from Glasgow or from Scotland full stop.”

To peruse the images of Neil’s collection is to be reminded of the great power of photojournalism in the post-War years, of the great names of Picture Post, or of pre-eminent photographers Bill Brandt, of John Bulmer, Grace Robertson, Margaret Watkins and many more.

Neil reminisced, “As I continued looking for old Glasgow photographs I found that Glasgow wasn’t unique of course, Liverpool was the second port and had just as many problems with immigration and resettling people as Glasgow had. Then I went on to collect photographs of London after the Second World War with children playing in the streets. The fact was I just couldn’t find any more Gorbals photographs but I liked the theme and I thought it was concentrated enough to continue picking up those older photos.

I think I view the collection as an historical statement which should be preserved and used for research into historic social issues that Scotland and even part of those blitzed areas in London and Liverpool have. The reason for that is I found people, my contacts in Glasgow and Edinburgh, were not in the least interested in that time period. It was almost like it was a black era. Scotland may have had that but it was only a microcosm of the society and therefore we should forget about it. And I don’t think it should be forgotten at all, because these places like the Gorbals produced people who worked extremely hard, whom a lot of them emigrated and have done extremely well. We should take that as being a significant positive rather than being a negative.”

Did Neil class himself with these people I wondered? “I do. I had to leave Scotland in order to get on because the opportunities within Scotland itself were very limited.”

But those opportunities he went on to find enabled him to build, in time, his large collection of photographs, “I think it is about 300 prints. I’ve never sat down and counted, but someone told me, I said there must be 200 and they said no there is 300 here. But that is somebody who was going through it with a toothcomb with the objective of taking it and putting it into an archival collection.

Well it ended up as not just Gorbals, Gorbals was the principal theme and as I said I ran out of work to collect or people who would give me some work. My objective now is to give it away in one piece.”

I was intrigued to know of the options available to a collector specialising in vintage prints of one particular city neighbourhood, from a very particular era. What images existed, was it solely waif-like children playing on street corners, or was there more to be seen? Neil explained, “Oh, quite a few, I wasn’t interested in particularly general landscape work, but there is one or two showing the demolition of the Gorbals but that is enough just as the background. I was more interested in the social side of it. How the children amused themselves, you know children have a capacity to enjoy themselves no matter what the conditions are. And I had to have photographs of the situations in pubs, now you see some older ones there. I actually commissioned a young photographer, Johan Campbell, who comes from Glasgow, to go back over and photograph, to go inside the pubs of Glasgow, and of Celtic supporters, and also to photograph outside the games. I also have work by David Gillanders, I got to know him quite well. I just love his work. I think he is the only serious social photographer that I’ve encountered in recent years. So I thought I had to include his work. So it’s not just about children, I mean Glasgow on a Friday night it shows the vicious side of it, but then that does exist. And I think it should be recorded. It’s not meant to be a sweety confectionery type of collection. It’s meant to be hard and tough. I’m not sure if that comes over.” He continued, “I’ve got a series done by a South African artist of men coming out of the shipyards and in the pubs, standing there you know with a pint and a half, they’re getting drunk before they go home and give what’s left to their wives.”

I asked Neil what his wife Blanche, who hails from Ayrshire, thinks of his collecting habit, “…my wife has put a stop to this for the time being. She says I have to find a home for it, you know preserving photographs is not an easy task. They have to be in terms of temperature and humidity well preserved. I’ve done my best here but now I need storage. So I’ve certainly paused it for further reflection. Let’s put it that way and this collection as such stands on its own and I think my next job is to find a home in Scotland for it.”

I was intrigued as to whether or not his wife lends a curatorial eye when viewing work to purchase, Neil laughed, “Ha! She’s a good critic, let’s put it that way!”

And what of the work that escaped, sometimes even good collectors can’t find everything. Without pause, Neil replied, “yes there was a guy– Joseph McKenzie. I met Joseph half a dozen times in his home. I viewed his collection. I would have died to have some of those works. He was not budging. And we kept a correspondence, over several years.”

And now in the era when everything is limited edition and aimed to be collectible, with the internet and it’s plethora of selling and buying sites, auction houses and yard sales, is it easier now to collect these prints? “Getty bought most of the Picture Post and it is easy to look at those photographs and buy modern prints but that was not my interest. So yes you can. I was interested in getting older prints as original as possible, as close to the date as I could that they were photographed. That’s part of the art of collecting I think and that’s why I think the collection has a little bit of heft. Yes you could put together a modern print version of the collection very easily indeed.”

As a working photographer here in Scotland myself, and as a co-founder and member of Document Scotland – a collective of four working photographers in the documentary field, I was intrigued to ask Neil his view of the industry here. He was happy to share his insight, “I found very few contacts in Scotland that I was able to make that were the least interested in photography. You’re a photographer yourself you correct me if I’m wrong. I contacted half a dozen of the photographic clubs and so on, pah, they wouldn’t give me the time of day. I don’t know why, when, if I do that in North America I usually get some sort of feedback, it’s easier to make contacts. I don’t know.

In terms of my art collection, none of the people who you’d regularly go to for let’s call it fine art, were interested in photography. I think the one exception is the Fine Arts Society that put a collection of Marzaroli’s work three or four years ago but it was just a six week ‘let’s see if we can sell some of these’ type of thing…Why there is not a deeper interest in, let’s call it fine art photography, I don’t know.”

“When I talked to David Peat before he died, I bought his collection, he hadn’t sold any. So I bought the whole collection that he had and he kept the original which has been given to the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, but I bought the only copy that he made. He was of course in the business for a long time and he was echoing what you’re saying. Nothing has changed and Marzaroli was the same, and essentially died in poverty. Tough field photography for a professional. That’s not the case in North America, or France, Germany. I think it is easier if people understand it is a fine art and to be encouraged. It will come but you know Scotland always was a wee bit behind.”

And is there a difference between collecting within Scotland and England? “My experience of England is mostly London, which is a bit of an international microcosm.” And with a smile in his voice, “there’s three or four people there over the years who I’ve dealt with, thieves and vagabonds, but never the less they do try.”

And from these thieves and vagabonds, I wondered does Neil collect any contemporary Scottish photography? Why only stop in the days of Picture Post, even life in the Gorbals now comes in glorious technicolour? “I haven’t tried, nor would I know how to source it. That’s really what I’m saying to you. I did have a contemporary Scottish art collection, young people, contemporary, looking for a sale. What I loved about that was meeting the artist and him explain his work and how he went about it. Now if there was such a medium available in Scotland for contemporary photography I think that would be very encouraging, but I didn’t find it.

Scottish contemporary art is very expressionist, they are certainly very different to what is produced in England and that is why I loved it. I found Scottish contemporary art to be very creative and I’m sure that is exactly the same with photography.”

I assure Neil at this point that there is good contemporary photography being produced here, Document Scotland have been showing work by many photographers at our salons, in our publications and shows. We, as a photography collective, try to enable one viewing platform where collectors like Neil can see work from the young and enthusiastic, as well as old and experienced photographers who are still out there, still walking the streets, carrying colour digital or old school black and white and who are still producing work in Scotland. I mention to Neil that Document Scotland recently had the honour of Glasgow-born photojournalist Harry Benson CBE generously accepting our invitation that he become the collective’s Honorary Patron, and I had noticed that Neil, in his collection, has a few of Harry’s prints.

“I met Harry in New York, when we’re talking about contemporary photography and contemporary art and I said I like to meet the artist and talk of why they’re doing their work. I met Harry in his apartment in New York and he told me of his life and I took a few prints from him. Particularly the one in Kelvingrove Park, the kids in the fountain, which is a famous one, I wanted to get it from him. That made a big difference, and he talked about how tough it was for him and how it’s only in recent years he’s been accepted as being a social photographer in Scotland. He’s just a lovely man. He’s a survivor too. For me meeting him made me enjoy his photography more. That’s the link I think.”

Glasgow-born photographer Harry Benson, at home in New York, © Stephen McLaren/Document Scotland 2014. All rights reserved.

Glasgow-born photographer Harry Benson, at home in New York, © Stephen McLaren/Document Scotland 2014. All rights reserved.

 

And with that Neil accepted my invitation to join Document Scotland for a salon event next time he is home in Scotland, an evening when Scottish contemporary photographers who walk the same streets as Bert Hardy did, entering similar houses as Bill Brandt and Thurston Hopkins, can share work, share thoughts and hopes and raise a glass to those who went before but whose prints still reflect the way ahead.

All text © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Document Scotland 2014. All rights reserved.

The images reproduced above do not form part of Neil Carragher’s Gorbals collection and are used as examples of contemporary work from the Gorbals area, by contemporary photographers.

Sarah Amy Fishlock‘s image comes from her series ‘Citizens’ – ‘During my time as Artist in Residence at the Citizens Theatre between July 2013 and February 2014 I worked on a range of participatory photographic projects with theatre staff, audiences and community members. Citizens documents theatre staff in their unique working environment, as well as the changing landscape around the theatre, situated in the Gorbals, Glasgow.’

Chris Leslie has been documenting the changes in the east end of Glasgow in his project Glasgow Rennaissance, and in his new book ‘Nothing is Lost‘.

Thanks to Marc Boulay, formerly of the St. Andrews University Special Collections Photography Archive, for the introduction to Neil Carragher and his collection of Gorbals images.

And of course thank you to Neil Carragher for sparing time to chat and his kindness in allowing us to write about his collection. Thanks Neil!

See also The Gorbals, by photographer John Claridge, from Cafe Royal Books.

 

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