Sophie on BBC Landward and BBC Radio Scotland

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

 

BBC Landward

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

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Watch the episode of BBC Landward on BBC iPlayer now.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Sophie Gerrard

 

 

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

 

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Sophie with Sybil and the crew. Dalmally November 2015

BBC Out Of Doors

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Thank you Claire and your team for the feature.”

 

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

 

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

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“The Ties That Bind” talks – 26th September

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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)

 

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The Ties That Bind

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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