FLOW PhotoFest

Document Scotland are very pleased to announce that we’re being represented in the inaugural Flow PhotoFestival, with two bodies of work. The new photography festival takes place across the Highlands of Scotland throughout September.

Colin McPherson’s images of Scottish football culture, the When Saturday Comes series, are on show at the Eden Court, Bishops Rd, Inverness, IV3 5SA. From 2nd – 30th Sept.

Colin’s work documents the ‘beautiful game’ and photographs of football culture in Scotland. Exploring the social process which surrounds football, McPherson immerses himself, and the viewer, into the rituals and practices of the fan as they embark on their weekly experience of football. Attention is given to the banal and the everyday details of the manner in which football is performed by the fan in the season. McPherson produces illuminating and insightful work on a ubiquitous aspect of contemporary Scottish culture. This work was previously shown at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

 

‘Craigroyston, 2006’ from the series ‘When Saturday Comes’. ©Colin McPherson 2017, all rights reserved.

 

‘Alloa Athletic, 2010’ from the series ‘When Saturday Comes’. ©Colin McPherson 2017, all rights reserved.

 

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert’s North Sea Fishing images are being exhibited at St. Fergus Gallery, Wick Library, Sinclair Terrace, Wick, KW1 5AB. The show runs from 9th Sept – 21st Oct.

High Life Highland are delighted to be hosting a striking exhibition of black and white images shot aboard the seine net fishing boats, Mairead and Argosy, in the North Sea in the 1990’s. These images, by Scottish documentary photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, capture the reality of the life at sea for the fishermen of Scotland’s North East fishing communities – the cramped conditions, the monotony, and the gruelling work in harsh conditions.

Aboard the ‘Argosy’ seine-net fishing boat, in the North Sea, Scotland, February 1995. Photograph by ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 1995, all rights reserved.

 

Bill Smith secures the nets, aboard the ‘Argosy’ seine-net fishing boat in the North Sea, Scotland, February 1995. Photograph by ©Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 1995, all rights reserved.

 

The FLOW PhotoFest runs through September at a variety of galleries and exhibition spaces throughout the Highlands of Scotland.

 

 

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North Sea Fishing

We’re delighted to write that Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert currently has two bodies of work exhibiting with Shetland ArtsNorth Sea Fishing is showing until August 27th at the Bonhoga Gallery, and Klondykers is showing at the Mareel arts centre for the next year, both in the Shetland Isles.

 

About the North Sea Fishing exhibtion, Shetland Arts wrote: “Scottish documentary photographer Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert captured the reality of the life at sea for the fishermen of Scotland’s North East fishing communities aboard the seine net fishing boats, Mairead and Argosy, in the North Sea in the 1990s.

These images serve as an important record of a period and style of fishing which is already passing into history, an insight into the working conditions for seine net fishermen, operating far from the safety and comforts of the shore. They capture the cramped conditions, monotony, and the grueling work in harsh conditions.

The North Sea – “a confused sea” as it was once described to me and, as one fishing trawler skipper told me, late at night, only the instrument panel lighting the bridge room, “the north sea, she’s a cruel mistress”.

With thanks to Ronnie Hughes and the crew of the Mairead, and Duncan Mackenzie and the crew of the Argosy, for their hospitality and generosity. All photographs shot in 1993 on the Mairead, and 1995 on the Argosy.

This is a touring exhibition hosted by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther. The production has been made possible thanks to the generous sponsorship of several organisations including Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, Scottish Fishermen’s Trust, Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation and Loxley Colour Photo Lab.”

The Klondykers work (2 images above), shot in 1994, and published as a zine by Cafe Royal Books, looks at the period in Shetland’s history when fish processing ships from the Eastern Bloc countries would come to Shetland waters buying up catches of mackerel and herring from Scottish fisheries. The Klondykers work was written about by Shetland News here on the publication of the Cafe Royal Books. Very limited numbers of the Klondykers book will be on sale fro Shetland Arts during the run of the exhibition.

Speaking to the Shetland News, Jeremy says of his time photographing in Shetland “It was the period when communism had collapsed and Eastern Europe was opening up. To come to Shetland to see street signs in Cyrillic and people in all these foreign accents walking around – it was a fascinating time.

I remember driving out to the garbage dump. A couple of ships had been impounded in the port and hadn’t been allowed back to sea, and the company weren’t paying the crews any wages.

You had all these guys in the Lerwick garbage dump looking for things they could refurbish to take home, or things they could sell.

And I remember Shetlanders driving up and giving them packets of cigarettes, or bags of clothes and things. It was interesting to see that Shetlanders were rallying around to help them.”

North Sea Fishing, 8th July – 27th August, Bonhoga Gallery, Weisdale Mill, Weisdale ZE2 9LW.

Klondykers, for the next year, at Mareel, North Ness,, Lerwick, Shetland ZE1 0WQ.

The North Sea Fishing exhibition, on completion of its run in Shetland, will travel onwards to:

Wick, St Fergus Gallery, 9th September – 21st October.

Thurso Art Gallery, 28th October – 9th December.

Greenock, Beacon Arts Centre, 6th January 2018 – 24th February 2018.

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A portrait of Tanera (Ar Dùthaich)

Tanera (Ar Dùthaich) is a project by Derbyshire-based photographer Kevin Percival which will be exhibited from this Sunday, 18th June, at Rhue Art in Ullapool.

The photographs featured focus on a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland, where Kevin lived and worked for several years. Like many of Scotland’s coastal communities, the challenges facing local people revolve around the struggle for employment, affordable housing and access to education and other services, and often uncertainty surrounding who actually owns the spaces and places around their homes. Tanera Mor is no different, having been bought and sold – and recently withdrawn from sale – several times over the last few decades. Nevertheless, people living on Tanera Mor, the largest of the fabled Summer Isles, work hard to make the place habitable and sustainable. As Kevin notes: “The island had a very small population when I lived there, but has a particularly interesting and close relationship with the local mainland communities. Many have lived or worked on the island, on the fish farm in the bay, fishing or running tours in the waters around the Summer Isles archipelago. As such Tanera occupies a specific place in hearts, minds and mythologies of the local people. The photographs are a ‘portrait of place’, shown through the people and the marks and effects they have on the landscape around them. Given the island’s small size, these traces often exist together, in close proximity, so you can see the effects of families living on the land 200 years ago, right next to what is happening today. Over time these traces build up, layered on top of each other forming a kind of catalogue of existence like a palimpsest. This becomes particularly evident in smaller, self-contained or continually populated landmasses, such as Tanera Mhor.”

Giving a voice to people in marginalised places, whether they reside in inner-cities or in Scotland’s vast, rural landscape, is often a calling for photographers. In many locations, history is buried beneath layers of time. Kevin’s interest and approach bears this out: “With this work I wanted to explore both this rich past, as a Viking sanctuary, and a fishing and crofting community, and its current state and the people who are leaving their traces today. Visually, I wanted to acknowledge the Romanticism of the Scottish wilderness, but contrast that with modernity – emphasising that this is a current workplace and home. Rural populations in Britain seem under-represented, both politically and photographically, and I wanted to present a project which encourages conversation around rural living and issues”

The project started in 2012 when Kevin moved to Tanera Mor for a job and it developed from there. He spent two years living on the island seasonally; eight months on, four months off and has returned to the island for at least a few weeks every year since. Shooting mostly on black and white film, Kevin’s aim was to reference the Romanticism and the photographers who have depicted Scottish islands before. As is common these days, Kevin’s approach sought to tap into the pace of life in the islands: “I also love using film because it slows me down, makes me really look at a scene and work through different compositions in my head. When every shot costs a few quid you quickly realise you can’t walk around with a motordrive going, you have to take your time with your subjects”

The project is not intended as a complete history of Tanera, nor a catalogue of everyone who has ever lived there or ever contributed to the fabric of the place. With a place like Tanera Mor, periodically inhabited for over 1000 years, such a task would be impossible. Kevin’s intention is to create a small but timeless snapshot, focused on the particulars of how the island has been managed for the past 20 or so years. Luckily, Kevin found the people he was living and working with supportive, as he explains: “I was really lucky that everyone was so welcoming, from the people who own/run the island to the local fish-farmers, course tutors and tour boat operators. I ended up photographing people from wildly different backgrounds, but for whom the island was a strong presence within their lives. Most people living in remote areas like the Highlands and Islands find they have to become modern crofters, or I suppose you could call it ‘portfolio workers’. In order to survive, most people work two or three jobs. Likewise, the island takes on very different roles for each person. For artists, writers and other creatives it is a gateway to contemplation or inspiration, for the scallop divers, creelers and fish-farmers it is their living”

Tanera (Ar Dùthaich) will be on show from this Sunday until 24th August, 2017.

 

Tanera. Photograph by Kevin Percival, 2017 all rights reserved.

Tanera. Photograph by Kevin Percival, 2017 all rights reserved.

Tanera. Photograph by Kevin Percival, 2017 all rights reserved.

Tanera. Photograph by Kevin Percival, 2017 all rights reserved.

Tanera. Photograph by Kevin Percival, 2017 all rights reserved.

Tanera. Photograph by Kevin Percival, 2017 all rights reserved.

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April Salon Event – Skye!

To mark the end of our exhibition at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, The Ties That Bind – we are off on the road again to present our work and work by photographers we admire to new audiences in Scotland. April 27th will see us in Skye – at the wonderful ATLAS Arts – if you’re nearby please do come along and join us.

The event is free – as ever – and all are welcome – see more information here

Screen shot 2016-04-13 at 23.36.31

 

See ATLAS Arts website at www.atlasarts.org.uk

Thank you to Creative Scotland and The University of St Andrews Special Collections for funding this Document Scotland Salon event.

Common-Ground-Press-Release-Wales-9

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Panel Discussion – Women on the Land – 9th March 2016

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!

 

Screen shot 2016-03-03 at 14.24.47

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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!

DSSalonFlyer2016WebRes

 

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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Paul Strand – print acquisition by SNPG

We were very excited to hear of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s latest photography acquisition, great to hear that nine images from South Uist, in the Outer Hebrides, by Paul Strand have been acquired for the nations’s photography collection. Great news indeed. Below, you can read about the acquisition and see the images, but we recommend going to see them in the flesh so to speak!

The nine photographs will be on show as part of Collecting Now at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, from 20 June to 20 September 2015.

 

Paul Strand

Nine photographs by Paul Strand (1890-1976), one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, have been acquired by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, where they will go on public display until 20 September. Taken from Strand’s series of Hebridean photographs from South Uist in 1954, the works are the first examples of his Scottish work to enter into a public collection in Scotland.

This major acquisition, supported by the Art Fund, is composed of nine vintage black and white portraits of Scottish lives and landscapes in South Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. The works will be hung in the current exhibition Collecting Now, which focuses on the Gallery’s growing collection.

 

Paul Strand (1890-1976). Croft, Locarnon, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976).
Croft, Locarnon, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

The American photographer Paul Strand is ranked among the most important artists within the history of photography, and his work has influenced generations of photographers. In 1954, upon hearing a radio programme on the Gaelic songs of South Uist, he decided to travel there along with his wife, Hazel Kingsbury Strand. Having been introduced to the islanders by the local doctor, Strand spent three months taking over a hundred photographs of the island and its people for his book, Tìr a’ Mhurain (1962). Taken from a traditional Gaelic song, the title translates as ‘Land of Bent Grass’.

Strand photographed many of the people in and around their homes, often posing them before a weathered wall. Within the group of nine works going on display, there are four striking portraits that show the sitters looking directly at the camera, exuding strength and dignity. Strand was keen to understand his subjects, their environments and the forces that shaped their lives, and spent his first few weeks on the island observing the people he would photograph – fishermen, crofters, their wives and children. Nine years after the end of the WWII, South Uist was still an impoverished community and the vast majority of families depended on the produce from the land and sea. The remaining five photographs within the new acquisition group show the evocative landscapes of South Uist, for instance a loch and lilies, a croft, and ropes and a buoy used by the local fishermen.

Paul Strand (1890-1976). Norman Douglas, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 14.6 x 11.4 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976).
Norman Douglas, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 14.6 x 11.4 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Paul Strand (1890-1976). John Angus MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 14.6 x 11.4 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976).
John Angus MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 14.6 x 11.4 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

In the 1950s, during the Cold War, Uist was announced as the future site for a rocket launch facility, and many of the photos Strand took during his time on the island reflect a concern amongst many artists and folklorists to ‘salvage’ oral Gaelic culture amid the thread of a militarised modernity. He believed these islanders represented the universal struggle of humanity and sequenced the images within Tìr a Mhurain in such a way as to evoke the heroic, yet remote lives of the dwindling population: when he visited South Uist in the mid-1950s the population was 3764; at the last census in 2011 it was 1754.

The completed publication came out in 1962 and featured an introductory essay by British historian Basil Davidson, who explained the precarious existence of the islanders against a backdrop of history, geography and social anthropology.

Paul Strand (1890-1976) Peggy MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976)
Peggy MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Paul Strand (1890-1976) Loch and Lilies, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976)
Loch and Lilies, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Paul Strand (1890-1976) Ropes and Buoy, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 24.1 x 19.3 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976)
Ropes and Buoy, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 24.1 x 19.3 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

One of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, with a career that spanned sixty years, Paul Strand was born in New York in 1890 and received his first camera at the age of 12. Whilst a student of renowned documentary photographer Lewis W. Hine in New York, from 1904-08, Strand visited the 291 Gallery which promoted pioneering photographers and introduced some of the most avant-garde European artists to American audiences. By 1916, Strand had a solo show at 291 Gallery, whose owner Stieglitz declared the images “pure” and “direct”. In 1945 Strand was given a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, but having become more political he now came under scrutiny as McCarthyism swept America, and he went into exile in France. During this time period he began working on a series of photo essays in search of an ideal community or village that espoused certain moral values he wanted to record with the camera, which eventually led to his visit to South Uist in 1954. His breakthrough, abstract experiments in the 1910s heralded photography’s importance as a modern art form, but it was his portraits of ordinary people that increased his popular appeal. Strand died in 1976 at Orgeval, France.

 

Paul Strand (1890-1976) Rock by the Sea, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 24.1 x 19.3 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976)
Rock by the Sea, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 24.1 x 19.3 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Speaking of the acquisition, Christopher Baker, Director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery said: “These works are an important contribution to broadening our international holdings of photography, while the distinct Scottish subject matter relates to the larger mission for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in representing the people and topography of Scotland.”

Paul Strand (1890-1976) Mrs. Archie MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976)
Mrs. Archie MacDonald, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 11.4 x 14.6 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Paul Strand (1890-1976) House, Kilpheder, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954 Photograph (gelatine silver print): 19.3 x 24.1 cm Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

Paul Strand (1890-1976)
House, Kilpheder, South Uist, Hebrides, 1954
Photograph (gelatine silver print): 19.3 x 24.1 cm
Scottish National Portrait Gallery © Aperture Foundation Inc., Paul Strand Archive

 

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “Paul Strand was a photographic pioneer but he is under-represented in UK collections and not at all in Scotland, so we are very pleased to support this acquisition for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. This series of remarkable images from the Hebrides has an especially important resonance for the Gallery’s collections, and furthermore will sit well alongside works in the permanent collection by photographers influenced by Strand.”

 

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years the Art Fund has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. The Art Fund also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions, including ARTIST ROOMS and the 2013-18 Aspire tour of Tate’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable, and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators.

The Art Fund is independently funded, with the core its income provided by 117,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 230 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibition. In addition to grant-giving, the Art Fund’s support for museums includes the annual Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year, a publications programme and a range of digital platforms.

Find out more about the Art Fund and the National Art Pass at www.artfund.org

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Gather Connect Inspire

On May 14th and 15th Skye ATLAS Arts are running an arts event, Gather Connect Inspire, which aims to inspire creativity, create connections and exchange skills. Document Scotland are very pleased to have been invited, and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Colin McPherson’s are excited to attend and participate.

On the morning of Thursday 14th Jeremy and Colin will show work by Document Scotland and other photographers who we have showcased on our website, and in the afternoon they will participate in workshops and be available for one-on-one portfolio sessions with local artists and photographers.

Skye

From the webpage for the event, where you can also book incredibly reasonably priced tickets, but you’d better hurry as there is a limit to the numbers…

Confirmed speakers include:

Future Postive Studio – a multidisciplinary creative and digital studio that specialises in content, strategy and social outreach. Co-founders Jakub Michalski and Igor Termenon will expolore the potential of digital technology and offer one-to-one or workshop opportunities to discuss any questions you many have about how to use digital to its best advantage

Highland Print Studio – an open access workshop with facilities for printmaking (intaglio, relief, sceenprinting and stone lithography) and digital imaging. Studio Manager John McNaughtwill discuss the facilites and the work of the HPS and run one-to-one portfolio reviews for aspiring and well-established printmakers

Hot Tap Media – is a digital production company. Its director, Rebecca Thompson, will give an insight into the potential of crowdfunding as a means to fund creative projects. She will also offer more personal advice during one-to-ones or small group workshops

The Poundshop – an art project with the goal of spreading design to a wider audience and creating a platform for designers to sell items in pop-up shops. Sara Melin will give a presentation and run also run a creative workshop

Talent Development Initiative – there will be presentations from three successful applicants of the 2014 Talent Development Initiative: Suzy Lee, Heather McDermott and Emma Noble giving them the opportunity to showcase how their work has developed thanks to the support of this programme

Wasps Studios – a charity that provides affordable studios to support artists and arts organisations across Scotland. Michelle Emery-Barker will reveal their plans to develop a studio with accommodation in Skye

There will also be an evening meal on Thursday 14 May at the Isle of Skye Baking Company featuring a performance from Leighton Jones (included in the cost of your ticket)

atlas

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A recent acquisition – St Andrews University archive

Sophie Gerrard's prints being signed for The University of St Andrews Special Collection

Sophie Gerrard’s signed prints from the series Tunnocks, and Drawn To The Land being prepared for The University of St Andrews Special Collection © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved

 

We delivered four lovely boxes of prints and a hard drive of digital files to St Andrews this week and are very pleased that Document Scotland’s work has now become one of the most recent acquisitions to the St Andrews University Special Collection.

Document Scotland started working with Marc Boulay and the University of St Andrews archive just over a year ago.  The University’s Special Collections Division holds over 800,000 images from the 1840s onwards and we are delighted and proud to have our prints and digital files now included in such an extensive, impressive and important collection of photography in Scotland.

 

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert's prints from the series 'Life in The Third' being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert’s prints from the series ‘Life in The Third’ being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert’s prints from the series ‘Unsullied and Untarnished’ being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Stephen McLaren’s prints from the series ‘Scotia Nova’ being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Stephen McLaren's prints from the series 'Scotia Nova' being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

Stephen McLaren’s prints from the series ‘Scotia Nova’ being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Colin McPherson's prints from the Scottish independence referendum being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

Colin McPherson’s prints from the Scottish independence referendum being boxed for the University of St Andrews Special Collection archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

 

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Marc Boulay of The University of St Andrews Special Collections Division, receives Document Scotland’s prints and digital files for the archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

 

Marc Boulay of The University of St Andrews Special Collections Division, receives Document Scotland's boxes of prints. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

Marc Boulay of The University of St Andrews Special Collections Division, receives Document Scotland’s boxes of prints and digital files for the archive. © Document Scotland 2015 all rights reserved.

 

We’ve had the pleasure of working with the ever charming Marc Boulay and his team at the University over the last year or so. Thank you Marc for all your help, assistance, support and enthusiasm for our work.

 

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North by North West

Ferryman, Easdale island, 1989. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

Ferryman, Easdale island, 1989. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

 

Document Scotland are hitting the road next month.

We are heading to the Highlands and Argyll to host the first of a series of four salon events across the country which will present the work we will be showing at our forthcoming exhibition at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow. There will be presentations in person by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Sophie Gerrard and Colin McPherson. In addition, we’ll be looking at Scotland’s historical legacy by highlighting the work of one of our partner organisations, the University of St. Andrews Library’s photography collection. We’ll also be showcasing work by contemporary photographers making work about Scotland and discussing the current state of photography.

The first event will be staged at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (scroll down page for details) on Thursday, 14th August. The event runs from 7-9pm and we are looking forward to presenting work for the first time in the Highland capital. Due to the size of the venue, booking is essential: To reserve you place, please telephone the museum on 01463 237114 or email kirsten.body@highlifehighland.com

Two days later, on Saturday 16th August, the Document Scotland tour takes to the ocean waves, with a three-minute ferry crossing to the small car-free Hebridean island of Easdale, just south of Oban. We are being hosted by Eilean Eisdeal at the Easdale Island Community Hall, a popular and lively venue for all types of arts activities. Our event begins at 7.45pm to accommodate people who may wish to cross over on the ferry from the mainland at 7.30pm. There will be ferries back at the conclusion of the evening’s entertainment.

Both events will as usual be informal, informative and interesting – and free to attend. We hope you can join us in either Inverness or Easdale, please spread the word or get in touch for further information.

There will be two further salon evening to be staged in St. Andrews and Edinburgh in the autumn. Details to follow.

 

Print

 

 

Document Scotland’s 2014 programme of salon events are supported by Creative Scotland.

 

StAndrews

 

 

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A night at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery

We are still buzzing after such an interesting, creative and energetic evening at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery last night for Document Scotland’s 1st ever portrait event “Face To Face: The Portrait in Photography Today”.

Crowds gathering before the Document Scotland photography event "Face To Face: The Portrait in Photography Today" at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery on May 14th 2014.

Crowds gathering before the event “Face To Face: The Portrait in Photography Today” at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery on May 14th 2014
image © Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

Thank you to the photographers which Document Scotland invited to take part along side us, Ben Roberts, Arpita Shah, Emily Macinnes and Graham MacIndoe. Thank you to Annie Lyden, the International Curator of Photography at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and her brilliant team for chairing and organising the event with us. Thank you to you the audience for coming along, for sending us your support from a distance if you were unable to make it, for following the events on Twitter, for being there, for helping to spread the word, for making it such a success and for your support of Document Scotland on our (relatively short but eventful) journey so far.

Here’s some images from the night, if any of you have any others which you’d like to share with us please do send them in – we’d love to see them.

Everyone takes their seats and we're ready to get started.  © Carly Shearer, SNPG 2014 all rights reserved

Everyone takes their seats and we’re ready to get started.
© Carly Shearer, SNPG 2014 all rights reserved

Sophie Gerrard shows her new on-going project, "Homecoming" at the Document Scotland photography event "Face To Face: The Portrait in Photography Today" at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery on May 14th 2014 Copyright © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Sophie Gerrard shows her new on-going project, “Homecoming”
© Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

The evening started off with Document Scotland’s Sophie Gerrard who showed new work, made over the last 18 months during Sophie’s return to Scotland. Sophie talked about re-aquainting herself with Scotland through portraiture – and spoke of the collaboration between sitter and photographer when making a portrait.

Sophie Gerrard showing "Homecoming"  © Emily Macinnes 2014 all rights reserved

Sophie Gerrard talks about portraits from the series “Homecoming”
© Emily Macinnes 2014 all rights reserved

 

Then we heard from Jeremy who talked us through his Roma portraits, his experiences of living and visiting the camps and later houses of those featured in the project, some individuals he met and re-photographed almost 10 years later. Jeremy also showed a short piece of film footage of him in the camp making his portraits.

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert introducing the crowd to his Roma project © Colin MacPherson/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert introducing the crowd to his “Roma of Sinesti” work
© Colin McPherson/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert talks through portraits from his "Roma of Sintesti"   © Emily Macinnes 2014 all rights reserved

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert talks through portraits from his “Roma of Sintesti” project
© Emily Macinnes 2014 all rights reserved

 

Next up was Ben Roberts, who started by talking about some his influences, Chris Killip & Laura Pannack and then showed us images from the series ‘Higher Lands’, which Document Scotland featured as a portfolio on the website last year. He talked about his photographic process and approach to making the portraits and also about why they have remained such a popular body of work, raising the question that perhaps we all see a little of ourselves in these portraits.

Ben Roberts shows work from his project "Higher Lands" © Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Ben Roberts shows work from his project “Higher Lands”
© Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Ben Roberts shows work from his project "Higher Lands" © Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Ben Roberts shows work from his project “Higher Lands”
© Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

After Ben we watched a moving piece of multimedia by Graham MacIndoe documenting his journey through heroin and crack cocaine addiction. Graham’s images have been featured in The Guardian and other press lately and his decision to release such a personal body of work was something he talked about in the multimedia presentation he made for the evening.

Jeremy introducing Graham MacIndoe's work. © Colin McPherson/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Jeremy introducing Graham MacIndoe’s work.
© Colin McPherson/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Graham MacIndoe wasn't here on the night but we watched a moving multimedia presentation of "My Addiction, through My Eyes" © Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Graham MacIndoe wasn’t here on the night but we watched a moving multimedia presentation of “My Addiction, Through My Eyes”
© Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

The audience - a sold out show at the Document Scotland photography event "Face To Face: The Portrait in Photography Today" at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery on May 14th 2014 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

The audience – a sold out show at the Document Scotland photography event “Face To Face: The Portrait in Photography Today” at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery on May 14th 2014
© Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

After the break first up was Colin McPherson with a lighter hearted look at his portraiture taken mostly from his 1 year journey along the border of Scotland with England. His presentation showed people he’d encountered along the way and those who had become part of the journey but who, in his words, remained strangers. He titled the collection “In the Company of Strangers”

Colin McPherson shows his work, "In The Company of Strangers"  © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Colin McPherson shows his work, “In The Company of Strangers”
© Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

Then we heard from Arpita Shah who took us through a several bodies of her work, and talked about the relationship between mythology and portraiture and how she uses it to explore the experience of Diaspora for Asians living in Scotland.

Arpita Shah talks about her work  © Emily Macinnes 2014 all rights reserved

Arpita Shah talks about her work
© Emily Macinnes 2014 all rights reserved

Arpita Shah talks about her work  © Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved

Arpita Shah talks about her work
© Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved

 

Then it was Emily Macinnes who showed, for the 1st time her project “Paradise Lost: Testimonies of Abuse”, a powerful presentation of images and text documenting the thoughts and experiences of men who have suffered sexual abuse. A powerful and moving piece.

Emily Macinnes talks to the audience and shows her work "Paradise Lost: Testimonies of Abuse"  © Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Emily Macinnes talks to the audience and shows her work “Paradise Lost: Testimonies of Abuse”
© Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Emily Macinnes talks to the audience and shows her work "Paradise Lost: Testimonies of Abuse"  © Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Emily Macinnes talks to the audience and shows her work “Paradise Lost: Testimonies of Abuse”
© Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

Last, to finish the night was  Stephen McLaren’s work who’s series of portraits of Americans in California was introduced by Annie Lyden and left us all with the sound of bagpipes in our ears – and a smile on our faces.

 

Stephen McLaren's photographs from "American Always, Scottish Forever"  © Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

Stephen McLaren’s photographs from “American Always, Scottish Forever”
© Sophie Gerrard/Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

All the photographers on stage for the Q&A with Anne Lyden, International Photography Curator at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery (l-r) Anne Lyden, Emily Macinnes, Arpita Shah, Ben Roberts, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Sophie Gerrard & Colin McPherson © Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

All the photographers on stage for the Q&A with Anne Lyden, International Photography Curator at The Scottish National Portrait Gallery (l-r) Anne Lyden, Emily Macinnes, Arpita Shah, Ben Roberts, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Sophie Gerrard & Colin McPherson
© Document Scotland 2014 all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

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The Johnston Collection

How many archives have you ever come across that document one area of a country, that span 112 years, and from which all the images were shot by three generations of photographers from the same family ? Not many we expect. Is it even possible you wonder. But indeed, as great as it sounds, there is a collection which exists such as that described.

It is with great privilege and excitement here at Document Scotland, that today we run both a large article and a selection of images from the impressive Johnston Collection based in Wick, a collection spanning 112 years and encompassing the work of three generations of the Johnston family.

We only found the website of the Johnston Collection recently, after a tip-off from Niall McDiarmid, but with relish we’ve been perusing the images, and very kindly, Harry Gray, Chairman of the Collection, has granted us permission to feature some of the beautiful images, and also kindly provided the following article for us to publish.

We hope you enjoy the images here as a folio, and also the article below, and please visit the Johnston Collection’s website itself to peruse further great images.

Herring fishing boats off Wick harbour Stornoway fifie “Rambler” follows WK1 “First” to the harbour mouth. Estimated date : 1860 – 1869 ©The Wick Society, all rights reserved.

 

The Johnston Collection, by The Wick Society

In 1976 in the town of Wick in the far north of Scotland Alexander Johnston, photographer, retired. A not uncommon event in everyday life but in this instance his retirement brought to an end 113 years of the Johnston family photographic business. His retirement also affected The Wick Society, a local group founded by Wick historian Iain Sutherland who was concerned about the changing face of the town and its impact on the local heritage and its preservation.

Alexander Johnston was interested in the thoughts and ambitions of the Wick Society and approached Iain Sutherland with the offer of his photographic equipment and anything else of interest for the intended museum.

Former Wick Society Chairman and founder member of the Society Donald Sinclair takes up the story; “a group of us met with Alex Johnston and he first showed us his garage then took us upstairs to his dark room and store. There was little light, the walls were undecorated wood and everything was very damp. The main enlarger was on a small platform in a small room, this was because the light source was on the floor above i.e. the condenser lens box was fitted tight to the ceiling, the light source turned out to be an enamel bucket with a lamp holder fitted to the bottom. The enlarger was in fact an old plate camera which had been modified. When this was removed it simply fell to pieces, the joints had parted and any screws and nails had all rusted away. Another of the Johnston enlargers had been constructed as a reflected light enlarger and this can be seen in the reconstructed dark room in Wick Heritage Museum.

We couldn’t believe our eyes when we entered the former dark room and adjoining rooms. In those far off days there was very limited knowledge of temperature and humidity control or light levels on the longevity of photographic materials and there were thousands upon thousands of glass negatives some stacked in piles three feet high, others wrapped in sheets of blotting paper. Ironically it was the stacking that saved many of the negatives and although some were damaged at the edges most were okay. One secret of the survival of many of the plates was the use of Copal varnish. The proof of this was made clear when we came across some stereoscopic images where only one side had been varnished and remained clear while the opposite image had deteriorated. Many of the negatives seemed to have been made using a collodion based emulsion and the images on those were lost for good. Many were stuck together and others irreparably broken. So of the estimated 100,000 negatives about one half was destroyed. The only premise available to the Wick Society at that time was the old Pilot House overlooking the harbour and the remaining 50,000 or so plates were, with great effort moved into that building.”

Now fast rewind back to 1828 the year that French Photographer, Niecepore Niepce took what is recognised as the first photograph. One year later the firm of Charles Coventry, plumbers of Edinburgh sent one of their men north to Wick to work on the lead flashings on the roof of the new Parish Church of Wick. His name was William Johnston. When the church was completed in 1830 William decided to stay on in Wick. The new Thomas Telford designed fishing village and harbour of Pulteneytown on the south side of Wick bay which had begun in 1805 was a hive of building activity as the herring fishing industry expanded and William saw great possibilities for the future. He settled down, marrying a local girl Louisa Williamson and they had nine children, the eldest, Alexander was born in 1839. This was the year in which Jacques Mande Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot introduced the first commercially successful photographic processes.

Alexander Johnston, (1839-1896), photographer. ©The Wick Society, All rights reserved.

 

Alexander, who was destined to become the founder of the photographic business left school at the age of 14 to enter the family plumbing business working as a clerk and at one point he worked in the harbour office. By 1859 he was back in the family business but his interest was awakening in the new art of photography. By 1863 he had set up a small studio at his father’s house and very soon after that he had premises in Wick High Street. To the local population he must have cut a strange figure indeed as he walked the streets with his mobile darkroom and camera on a hand cart capturing the early scenes at the busy harbour. (This would have been the “wet plate” collodion process) Wick was now the “herring capital of Europe” and the “silver darlings” as the herring were known attracted over 1100 boats which crowded into the harbour over the fishing season June to September each year while thousands of migrant workers swelled the town’s population. They were photographed preparing their boats, setting the tan sails for sea, landing catches and onshore, were recorded in scenes of intense activity which show the teams of workers who gutted, cured and packed and carted the salted barrels of herring for export all over the world. The Johnston plates also show the boat builders, coopers, rope makers, basket weavers, plumbers, shop keepers and others in supporting industries and at leisure to give a wonderful glimpse of social history. The images seem to have been developed on location with a complicated mix of chemicals as, working by touch he poured the liquids on the plates hidden from sight and light inside his mobile darkroom.

In 1869 the Kildonan Gold Rush in Sutherlandshire brought over 700 miners to the area in search of riches. Alexander accompanied by a friend in a borrowed horse drawn carriage adapted to make a darkroom, made a four day journey to the diggings at “Baile an Or” (the place of gold) to capture the scenes, only seven plates survive and these are the only known photographs of gold diggings and shanty town in this country

Portrait photography had begun to catch the public imagination. The studio part of the business expanded quickly. By 1872 Alexander had to move to much larger premises in Wick’s Bridge Street as people began to come to him and his younger brother James (now a partner) to have their photographs taken. Their business continued to grow and in 1892 new spacious premises were acquired in Wick Market Place. In 1895 a branch had been opened in the town of Thurso which was attended to by Alexander.
Alexander did not enjoy the best of health and in 1896 while he was in Edinburgh for medical treatment he died suddenly at the age of 57.

His son William now 17 appears to have had some experience of the business as he assumes a partnership with uncle James and travelling each day by train takes on the running of the Thurso branch. The opening of the Thurso studio created a rich collection from that end of the county as William, as well as looking after the studio travelled all over the area capturing an invaluable collection of images of town and rural life of the time.

With the outbreak of WW1 there was a surge in portraiture as men departing for military service had images of their loved ones recorded as reminders of happier days at home. This has also resulted in a rich vein for today’s genealogical researchers. James Johnston passed away in 1922 and William shouldered the business until his son Alex returned from Art College in 1932 and joined the business, working there until 1942 when he was called up, serving as a photographer with the RAF for the duration of WW2. The Johnston’s were never tied to the studio and although portraiture provided the bulk of their income the working and social life of the county was caught through the twenties and thirties, scenes that are highly regarded today as an important social commentary but were in the words of Alex Johnston “simply a way of making extra income by selling picture postcards.” Their first love was painting and indeed this talent ran through the family from the beginning and examples of their art are displayed in Wick Heritage Museum. William passed away in 1950 and Alexander ran the business until his retiral in 1976 bringing 113 years of Johnston photography to an end. Alexander passed away in 2011 at the age of 101.

In 1979 the local Council offered the Wick Society the lease of numbers 18 – 27 Bank Row a row of early 19th century terraced houses. This was accepted and in 1981 the new centre was opened. Concurrently with all the work renovating and repairing the buildings the Johnston Collection was moved into its new home.

The Johnston Collection website

 

The first stage of cataloging could now begin and the negatives were sorted into two initial categories “scenes” and “portraits” the latter were passed a box at a time to a group of volunteer ladies who, using an old x-ray screen examined each image and recorded any information that the photographer had scribed along the edges, usually a name, address and date, some of the negatives were wrapped in blotting paper with the information written on the paper. At this point the Society invested in conservation quality boxes and envelopes and for the first time the negatives were in a safe environment.

The “scene” images were initially handled by Donald Sinclair and the late Willie Lyall the latter choosing the images while Donald, using the enlarger as his light source began to produce copy contact prints. They worked two hours every Tuesday and Thursday evenings and at the weekends. While Willie chose the images Donald set up the dark room, mixing and stabilising the temperature of the developer, stop bath and fixer. In the early days frequent test prints were made to assess the negative density/f-stop to adjust the light intensity and the exposure time and as techniques improved 50 prints were processed in two hours.

By 2002 a new age was entered, the scanning of the prints onto a computer was begun and a numbering system worked out and at that point it was possible to produce good quality prints up to A3 size.
In 2008 a new group was formed in the Wick Society named the Johnston Section and people were recruited into this new section which was given the remit to bring forward the digitisation of the entire Johnston Collection. At first, time was spent gathering information, making contact with other groups with digitisation experience and trying to produce costs and planning for the project. Computers, an A4 flatbed scanner and large format printer were acquired making it possible to scan, restore and exhibit A1 size prints which showed up the incredible detail captured within the glass negatives. Exhibitions have been held in Wick, Thurso and in the rural villages of Halkirk and Castletown. These exhibitions were very popular but the intention of the group was to preserve the collection as well as to display it.

In digital form the collection can be used on the w.w.w., for viewers within the museum and in presentations off site. This would also result in the decreased handling of the original images and enable the museum to make hard copies.

In 2009 North Highland College saw an opportunity to join a national project, Joint Information Services Committee (JISC), which aims to make historic documents and images available to the College/University network. This would be done via a website from which students can download material for study projects and the North Highland College proposed that the Johnson Collection would be suitable material for this project. The North Highland College had the further objective of setting up a training course in the practise of scanning/ digitisation/archiving as a contribution to supplying trained manpower for the UKAEA Nuclear Archive planned for Wick.

The agreed standard for scanning resolution was 1200 dpi, to allow large scale printing and high quality files to be stored as tiffs for the Society, as lower resolution jpegs suitable for student projects and as low resolution images for the newly created web site www.johnstoncollection.net. Un-restored tiff files are kept by the Society as well as copies of those cleaned up for exhibition.

Facilities, training and equipment were provided by North Highland College for Wick Society volunteers to work alongside the College Media Unit to digitise the ten thousand images required for the JISC project and the equipment has become the property of the Wick Society on its completion. In July 2012 North Highland College took the decision to close the Wick Campus where the Johnston Section had been working on the digitisation process. This had been expected and The Wick Society had already converted attic rooms in the Wick Heritage Museum into a workshop and all of the equipment was moved to there. The efforts to scan the remaining forty thousand negatives in the Collection continue and to date the Johnston Collection web site contains nearly twenty thousand images.

 

Visit the website of The Johnston Collection, and the Johnston Collection Facebook Page.

 

 

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