On Thursday 7th April at 6pm Colin McPherson will be in conversation with writer Kevin Williamson. The event is free. All are welcome!
On Thursday 7th April at 6pm Colin McPherson will be in conversation with writer Kevin Williamson. The event is free. All are welcome!
On Wednesday 9th March at 12:45pm Sophie will be taking part in a panel discussion with historian Dr Elizabeth Ritchie (University of the Highlands and Islands) and crofter and writer Liz Paul, will look at the history and context of women crofters in Scotland and beyond.
This panel discussion will take place in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and all are welcome!
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
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
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…. !
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.
“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!”
“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.”
“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 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.
“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.”
Thank you BBC1 and BBC Radio Scotland for featuring Drawn To The Land, both programs are available on iPlayer.
In 1968, Shelter employed Nick Hedges to document the oppressive and abject living conditions being experienced in poor quality housing in the UK. We commissioned the work in an effort to raise consciousness about the extent of unfit living conditions and to illustrate, in human terms, what the real cost of bad housing was.
A number of Nick Hedges’ images are on display on large billboards in St Andrews Square in Edinburgh this month, if anyone recognises the people photographed or know what happened to them they are encouraged to contact Shelter – you can do by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
See a link here on the Shelter website for Nick Hedges’ honest and striking account of his time photographing in Scotland for Shelter.
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 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.
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.
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.
‘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.
“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 (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.
“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.
96-pages, hardback, embossed cover.
58 photographs, printed on non-coated paper.
The book is available to purchase directly from Jeremy’s website.
‘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
Our exhibition at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery – “The Ties That Bind” opens soon. To accompany the opening of the exhibition, we will be presenting our work and talking about our projects at the Portrait Gallery, on Saturday 26th September from 2-3pm.
The event is free, and all 4 of us will be speaking – so if you would like to know more about the work and are in town then please come along – we’d love to see you. Please come early to guarantee your place.
We look forward to seeing you there,
Sophie, Colin, Jeremy and Stephen.
The Ties That Bind, an exhibition by Document Scotland and curated by the gallery’s international photography curator Anne Lyden, is on at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD from 26th September 2015 – 24th April 2016. Admission free, open daily 10am-5pm, Thursdays until 7pm (0131-624 6200, www.nationalgalleries.org)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.