Review of ‘Seeing Ourselves’

Document Scotland were delighted to be interviewed by The Dundee Courier about the exhibition ‘Seeing Ourselves’. Stephen spoke with Jennifer McLaren and explained a little about what brought us together, our aims and our passions and how we curated the exhibition.

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Why I Took This PIcture……Giulietta Verdon-Roe

It had been a long day.

I had started early, going straight to Home-Start Levenmouth offices and interviewing all who worked there.

It was just before Christmas and everyone was running around trying to organise the bags of presents which had been donated. Never ending lists filled with children’s names were being checked off and discussed…

“who would like the fire-engine over the small truck?”
“is she too old for this book?”
“her sister might steal that”
“ooo this is perfect for…”
“she’s a Tom boy she won’t like that!”

I was told that these were likely to be the only presents that these children received this year, so it was very important to find the right thing for the right child.

After the morning of sorting out toys and interviewing, I had arranged to meet with a volunteer and her young charge. We went to an arts and craft centre in a park where we painted magnets. It was incredibly windy and it was difficult to even open the car doors without them closing in your face as we climbed back into the car. It was freezing cold and the last of the trees clinging leaves flew from their branches. The magnets were going to be presents that the young girl could give to her Mum for christmas.

I took pictures through-out the day and found myself learning a great deal about the community I was documenting, the role of a volunteer and the children and parents they then helped.

On our way back we stopped off at the local super-market. The little girl I was with charged around pointing at everything and hoping she could persuade her volunteer to buy it.

I was so aware of her wanting these things and equally aware of her mums inability to afford them and there it was, aisles and aisles of toys that all the parents had to walk down and say no to. That’s why I took this picture.

Giulietta’s photograph, and others from her series, “Home-Start Levenouth”, can be seen at Fotospace Gallery, Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, as part of the “Seeing Ourselves” exhibition, which is curated by Document Scotland. The exhibition continues until August 1st 2013.
Document Scotland’s latest newspaper, which accompanies the exhibition can be bought online. Treat yourself.  http://www.documentscotland.com/seeing-ourselves-newspaper/

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‘Seeing Ourselves’ newspaper

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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


Costs



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‘Seeing Ourselves’- Press Release

PRESS RELEASE
No embargo

Document Scotland is proud and delighted to announce the date of our first collaborative group exhibition.

‘Seeing Ourselves’ will open at FOTOSPACE Gallery, Fife on June 3, 2013, and feature work by 10 leading Scottish photographers. The show has been curated by Document Scotland, in association with Colin Cavers of the Fife Photo Group.

The work on show will feature photography by the four founding members of Document Scotland (Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Colin McPherson, Stephen McLaren and Sophie Gerrard), along with work by six contemporary Scottish photographers (Radek Nowacki, Jenny Wicks, Martin Hunter, Giulietta Verdon-Roe, Sarah Amy Fishlock and Robert Ormerod) who have been invited to show images from projects either recently-completed or still in progress.

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

 

 

Drawn To The Land – Women working the Scottish Landscape © Sophie Gerrard 2013 all rights reserved.

 

Amongst the diverse selection of projects which will be shown are Sophie Gerrard’s compassionate depiction of the Scottish landscape through the eyes of women who manage it, Stephen McLaren’s sideways look at everyday life on the road, entitled ‘Scotia Nova’, Giulietta Verdon-Roe’s intimate study of a Home-Start charity project in Levenmouth and Robert Ormerod’s striking portraits of young people involved in present-day politics in Scotland.

Commenting on the exhibition, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert said: “We are excited to be able to showcase projects not only by Document Scotland, but by a number of talented photographers whose work is becoming instrumental in shaping the direction of documentary photography in Scotland. We are delighted to be able to collaborate with FOTOSPACE Gallery to bring to the public’s attention this exciting new work.”

Speaking on behalf of FOTOSPACE Gallery, Colin Cavers said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for FOTOSPACE Gallery, in collaboration with Document Scotland and On at Fife Theatres and Arts, to be able to bring such a unique exhibition of Scottish documentary photography together, that will be of such interest and relevance to the current national and international debate around Scotland’s future.”

In addition to the exhibition, Document Scotland will produce a commemorative publication in the form of a newspaper which will serve to publicise the show and the work of the participating photographers.

For further information regarding ‘Seeing Ourselves’, please contact:
Colin McPherson, T: 07831 838717 E: colin@documentscotland.com
Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, T:07831 138817 E: jeremy@documentscotland.com
Sophie Gerrard, T: 07810 445431 E: sophie@documentscotland.com

**************
Formed in 2012, Document Scotland is a collective of four Scottish documentary photographers brought together by a common vision to witness and photograph the important and diverse stories within Scotland at one of the most important times in our nation’s history. For more information, please visit www.documentscotland.com, or follow us on twitter @DocuScotland.
FOTOSPACE Fife is organised and run by the Fife Foto Group whose aims are to promote the exhibition of photography; to foster an engagement with photography and to encourage the enjoyment and practice of photography as a cultural, educational and leisure pursuit to the benefit of the community. More details can be found at http://www.fifefotospacegallery.org/

‘Seeing Ourselves’ – work by 10 contemporary Scottish photographers, curated by Document Scotland, on show at FOTOSPACE Gallery, Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, Fife KY7 5NX from June 3 until July 31, 2013. Opening times to the public Monday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm.

 

Forth and Clyde Canal. ©Martin Hunter 2013, all rights reserved.

 

 

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‘Seeing Ourselves’ exhibition

Document Scotland, in conjunction with FOTOSPACE Gallery, are very pleased to announce the ‘Seeing Ourselves, New Documentary Photography from Scotland’ photography exhibition, which will take place in June and July of this summer.

“With ‘Seeing Ourselves’ FOTOSPACE is proud to be showcasing the best in new Scottish documentary photography. Curated by the recently-formed Document Scotland collective, this exhibition brings together ten leading photographers working in Scotland right now. A dynamic and varied range of projects are presented all exemplifying the strength and depth of current photographic practice in the country. Beguiling images and strong sense of national story-telling make ‘Seeing Ourselves’ a photography exhibition that is both timely in its presentation and ambitious in its subject matter. See Scotland through the eyes of ten photographers with a unique vision.”

The photographers whose work will be on show are Document Scotland’s Sophie Gerrard, Stephen McLaren, Colin McPherson, and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, along with Jenny Wicks, Martin Hunter, Sarah Amy Fishlock, Giulietta Verdon-Roe, Radek Nowacki, and Robert Ormerod.

‘Seeing Ourselves’ will be on show at FOTOSPACE Gallery and FifeSpace Gallery, situated in Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, Fife, Scotland. The show will be open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm, and will be on from June 3rd- 31st July 2013.

 

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As You Are in North Ronaldsay

On a brilliantly bright, icy cold, winter Sunday afternoon recently I caught up with Giulietta Verdon Roe  over coffee and cake.

I knew that Giulietta had made several visits to the remote Scottish island of North Ronaldsay over a number of years to create a documentary photographic project of the population and character of the island. I was really interested to hear how her photographic project As You Are had begun and why, and what it had been like making the work. The relationships she established with the island inhabitants over time culminated in a body of work which has been exhibited in numerous locations in the UK including The Manse House on the island itself. In an ex-Royal Mail van, Giulietta drove the exhibition from London to Orkney and, due to a storm preventing the ferry taking her work to the island from the mainland, had to freight plane the entire show to the island.

With freezing hands that afternoon we looked through her box of prints and chatted about what had attracted her to the project in the first place.

John O ' Westness, Bay of Ryasgeo, North Ronaldsay 2008

John O ‘ Westness, The only fisherman on North Ronaldsay, doesn’t have a working boat, Bay of Ryasgeo, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2008 all rights reserved.

 

GVR: “I’d been living and working in New York for three years and in 2007 I found myself unexpectedly back in the UK. Maps have always fascinated me, I’ve always been drawn to the romance of far away places and after living in NYC I’d found myself looking, this time, to those out of the way places which were a little closer to home.

It appealed to me that for this project I would be constrained to a specific location when making the work. I began researching remote places in the UK and my attention was drawn again and again to Orkney and to North Ronaldsay in particular. Being the furthest most northernly island in the UK, it was its isolation which first fascinated me, that and the fact that it is home to both to the tallest land based lighthouse in the UK and had unique seaweed eating sheep. I bought a tent and booked my flight.

In 2008 I set off. Arriving on the island alone, I didn’t know what to expect.  the first thing that struck me was that island life is utterly dependent on the weather. By the time I’d pitched my tent that first night in North Ronaldsay in September it was cold, windy and dark and I was wondering what on earth I was doing…

I’d romanticised the idea perhaps, an island adventure, far away. My photographic process took quite a few days to begin, and it was almost 2 weeks before I made any pictures, I was interested in the stories and so I walked, and I met people and I talked to them, eventually borrowing an old bike to get around.

The conversations were what came first, with the photographs coming relatively late in the process. I was interested in understanding the everyday life of the island, of understanding how things worked there, I wanted to explore the past, present and future of the island and its community. The locals were used to ornithologists visiting, but not so used to people like me, someone who wanted to know about them and the land. It took time for a mutual understanding and confidence to start to become established.”

Heading towards Bridesness, North Ronaldsay, 2010.

Heading towards Bridesness, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR: “Island life is all about the weather. You are at the mercy of it. I felt very aware of my size in relation to the elements, the vulnerability of everything. I felt that I couldn’t make portraits without shooting the elements. The people are so much part of the landscape, it meant that I didn’t want to photograph the people without photographing the land.”

Jennie O' Scottigar, The oldest lady on the island when this was taken, bringing in her washing, 2008, North Ronaldsay.

Jennie O’ Scottigar, The oldest lady on the island when this was taken, bringing in her washing, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR “One interesting aspect of community life on North Ronaldsay is that people adopt the names of their houses, as a way to refer to each other. Jenny’s house was O’Scottigar, and that was how she became known. We spent a lot of time talking, We talked about the war, she remembers walking to school with her gas mask in her hand and how heavy it was. She was born on the island and didn’t leave its shores until she was in her very late teens.”

Point of Twingness, Seaweed eating sheep, North Ronaldsay. 2010

Point of Twingness, Seaweed eating sheep, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR “The seaweed eating sheep are unique to North Ronaldsay, they are kept out to shore by a 12 mile long dry stone dyke that surrounds the island. There are about 3000 of them and they’re quite beautiful and wild, nearly everyone has some sheep of their own. Twice a year, there is an event that I have yet to see, it’s called Punding and its one of the oldest forms of communal farming still practised today. The whole community help round up the sheep into pens known as ‘punds’, once a year to separate the pregnant ewes from the flock to keep them on the land for lambing and at another time of year to sheer their coats and give them their injections.”

(Heather O' Twingness), Nouster Bay, North Ronaldsay.

(Heather O’ Twingness), Nouster Bay, North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR “Heather was the youngest female on the island when I photographed her in 2010. She is the daughter of the island doctor and the owner of the islands Bird Observatory. Heather commutes to mainland Orkney to go to school.”

The population of North Ronaldsay when I first arrived in 2008 was 63, just 2 years later in 2010 when I re-visited the project the population had dropped to 50. In a small community like this, this was a big change and the school was left temporarily without any children to teach despite being kept open. The orkney island council built two new houses on the island in response to the situation and launched a promotion to select two new families to move to the island, which was a great boost to the community and resulted in putting children back into the school.”

(The Manse), North Ronaldsay.

(The Manse), North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

“I exhibited the ‘As You Are’ exhibition in this house in 2010. At that time it was un-lived in and had been empty for 40 years, but since then the islands school teacher has moved in and there is now new life in the building, it’s been brought back into habitation again. There’s been so much change. It’s also an important place for me as the exhibition was shown here. By seeing the exhibition, I’d hoped the islanders could really understand the project. It’s one thing to see the work online or as small images but to see yourself in a 30″x30″ print is a very different thing.”

(Jimmie O'Lochend). On his roof of Lochend, fixing his chimney. North Ronaldsay.

Jimmie O’Lochend on his roof of Lochend, fixing his chimney. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Gavin O'Twingness). The youngest islander when this was taken, pictured here in a bird catching cage in order to ring and monitor birds. He has just put out some North Ronadlsay Mutton Bones down to attract the birds. 2010.

Gavin O’Twingness). The youngest islander when this was taken, in a bird catching cage in order to ring and monitor birds.
He has just put out some North Ronadlsay Mutton Bones down to attract the birds.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Lighthouse and Moon, the UK's Tallest Land Based Lighthouse. North Ronaldsay. Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2008 all rights reserved.

Lighthouse and Moon, the UK’s Tallest Land Based Lighthouse. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2008 all rights reserved.

Jen in the Wool Mill.

Jen in the Wool Mill processing some of the islands native sheep wool. Many islanders have multiple jobs, Jen worked at the Bird Observatory, was an ornithologist and also work part-time at the islands yarn mill. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Byre, North Ronaldsay, 2010. A native North Ronaldsay sheep whose lamb has died 'not taking' to a non-native orphaned lamb. North Ronaldsay. Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

Byre, North Ronaldsay, 2010. A native North Ronaldsay sheep whose lamb has died ‘not taking’ to a non-native orphaned lamb. North Ronaldsay.
Photograph © Giulietta Verdon-Roe 2010 all rights reserved.

 

GVR: “Whenever I met people they would always ask where I wanted to take their portrait and if they should get dressed up or how they should be posed. So in a way the project named itself as I always explained I want to photograph you the way you are, just as you are.

I loved working in Scotland, it really became a huge part of my life and one that was important to me. It has meant that I have gone on to do other projects in other areas of Scotland and I am also planning future ones too. I now for example cannot watch a weather forecast without looking at Orkney. Just as the environment is so wild and changeable, so can my feelings and emotions be when I am there. Sometimes I loved it, and sometimes I just couldn’t place what on earth I was doing, but more importantly I’ve been left with a powerful relationship with the area.”

 

Many thanks Giulietta for talking to Document Scotland about this project. To see more of Giulietta Verdon-Roe’s photography visit http://www.giuliettaverdon-roe.com/#/home

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