Sarah Amy Fishlock joins Document Scotland

Document Scotland begins a new era in our short and full life. We are delighted to announce that long-time friend and occasional collaborator, Glasgow-based photographer Sarah Amy Fishlock has joined us, and together we look forward to joining our energies and expertise, and building on all that Document Scotland has so far achieved in promoting documentary photography in and about Scotland.

 

We welcome photographer Sarah Amy Fishlock to the Document Scotland team.

 

Sophie Gerrard spoke with Sarah about how she got started in photography, her projects, some of her influences and what’s next.

From the series Middlemen © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2011 all rights reserved.

SG: So welcome to Document Scotland Sarah, we’re looking forward to working with you – perhaps we can start with you telling us a bit about yourself…

SAF: I was born and brought up in Glasgow. When I left school I did a degree in Literary Studies at Glasgow University – it was originally going to be an Honours English Literature degree, but I cut it short when I realised that I wanted to go to art school. My father, whom I was close to and who passed his love of visual art on to me, passed away a year after I left school. I remember being in Venice with my mother soon afterwards, and taking a photo with my little point and shoot camera – a view of a corner building, from a bridge. The photo is pretty ordinary but I remember the moment really clearly as the instant I realised I wanted to do something creative, although I wasn’t quite sure what that would be.

Even though it was photography that sparked my interest in the creative industries, I started studying Visual Communication (now Communication Design) at Glasgow School of Art when I was 21, originally intending to specialise in Graphic Design. After taking a short introduction to black and white photography course in 2nd year (my first time in a darkroom), I fell in love with the process of photography. My boyfriend at the time, though not a professional photographer, was really interested in photography, and would buy me various cheap cameras for birthdays and christmases – Olympus Trip, Holga, Fuji Instax – so my first forays into photography were really experimental. I fell in love with the way my everyday surroundings could become beautiful through photography. I spent lots of time in the darkroom during my degree – now, I can’t even remember what I was printing, but I remember it being a really meditative experience, and crucial in helping me to form ideas of what a future career could look like.

saf_middlemen_2

From the series Middlemen © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2011 all rights reserved.

SG: It sounds like your starting point was quite instinctive – tell us a little about how you developed your passion and interest …

SAF: During my degree, the artists I loved were those who made the ordinary extraordinary. I was fascinated by images of the American south – Robert Frank, William Eggleston, Stephen Shore. I still love those photographers, but I realised during my studies that my own style of photography would be more intimate, the stories I tell more focused. The Iraqi interpreters that I worked with during Middlemen, my degree project, have been through trauma that most people can’t imagine, but I wanted to tell the story of their quiet persistence, their day-to-day challenges and triumphs – a story about what happens after conflict, when people must rebuild their lives. One of the primary influences on this work was KayLynn Deveney’s The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings – the simple story of the artist’s friendship with an elderly widower, illuminated by Deveney’s lyrical, painterly imagery.

Today, two of my main influences are Sian Davey and Bertien van Manen – two artists who produce slow, quiet, unhurried projects, in which the viewer is given an intimate glimpse into other worlds.

saf_amyeahren_1

From the series Amye & Ahren © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2012 all rights reserved.

SG: We’ve enjoyed your work such as Middlemen and Amye & Ahren and featured them in Document Scotland publications and salons, you’ve also created Goose Flesh photography zine. You’re clearly a prolific and driven individual, what motivates you?

SAF: For me, photography is a way of making contact with the world. It was hard to get Middlemen started – it look a long time and a lot of persistence to find the men, but once I did, I began to understand how humbling and illuminating it can be to help someone tell their story. While discussing a new project with a friend recently, something he said struck me – ‘the best projects are the most difficult’. For me, that’s definitely true – I want my work to challenge not only the viewer but myself, as a photographer and as a human being – to think differently, to change perspective, to reconsider opinions.

From the series Middlemen © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2013 all rights reserved.

From the series Amye & Ahren © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2012 all rights reserved.

I always begin by researching my subject: this is really important when working with a different culture, as during Middlemen, or with disabilities, like Amye & Ahren. I read around the subject and look at other artists’ work for inspiration. I’ve learned to always make work about subjects that interest me, even if they don’t seem ‘photograph-able’ to begin with – there’s always a way in. I then look for ways to access the people I want to work with – this might be through a charity, like the Scottish Middle Eastern Council who helped me meet the middlemen, or a mutual friend, who introduced me to Amye. I treat my projects as collaborations between myself and the subject – their comfort always comes first. It’s important to me that when I show my work, the people I’ve photographed are happy with and proud of the result.

In 2013 I started Goose Flesh with a small grant from Ideastap as a way of showcasing work by emerging and established artists from, living in, or connected to Glasgow, in a compact, accessible, affordable form. So far, five issues of the zine have been produced, alongside exhibitions in a range of venues around Glasgow, from Trongate 103 to the Arches. My interest in zines continued during my residency at the Citizens Theatre (2013-14 ), for which I produced two zines documenting my projects – it was a great way to bring the work back to the community that inspired it. I now teach zine workshops to university students and community groups around Scotland. This is something I’d like to continue and develop in 2017, perhaps alongside one of my photography projects. Goose Flesh is on hiatus at the moment while I develop my own photography projects – but it’ll definitely be back at some point in the future!

From the series Five Lands © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2016 all rights reserved.

From the series Five Lands © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2016 all rights reserved.

SG: Have you had any surprises along the way? Unexpected moments or challenges when making your work?

SAF: I am always humbled and pleasantly surprised by the people I photograph – the middlemen and their families welcomed me into their homes, gave me lots of delicious food, and shared their stories with me. Amye and Ahren did the same, despite the daily difficulties and challenges they face as a single parent family living with autism.

I’ve begun a few projects that have later fizzled out because I wasn’t sure exactly what the focus of the story should be. It’s important to identify precisely what interests you about a situation, even if you can’t envisage the outcome right at the beginning.

From the series Five Lands © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2014 all rights reserved.

From the series Five Lands © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2016 all rights reserved.

SG: We’ve seen that your new work Beloved Curve, has been selected for Focus Photography Festival in Mumbai, and you’ve just returned from exhibiting it with Uncertain States in East London – many congratulations.  What’s coming up for you next?

My most recent project, Beloved Curve, is a departure from my previous work – it’s a series of experimental double exposures looking at my relationship with my father and my experiences of mourning his loss. I have enjoyed immensely the process of working in a different way, and I’m really proud of what the project has achieved – as well as being exhibited in Glasgow and Edinburgh this year, it’s been featured by BBC News In Pictures, the Guardian and Fiona Rogers’ Firecracker. Thanks to this coverage, I’ve recieved great feedback from members of the public who’ve connected with the work – it’s important to me that my work has resonance beyond the photography community, and I’m delighted that this project has achieved that.

I want to continue looking at some of the themes Beloved Curve touches on, but with a documentary slant – getting back into telling other people’s stories. I’m currently researching what I hope will be a long term project about child bereavement in Glasgow, as well as some smaller documentary projects.

saf_belovedcurve2

From the series Beloved Curve © Sarah Amy Fishlock 2016 all rights reserved.

I’m really excited to have the opportunity to join Document Scotland at this stage in my career – I think it’s important to have other artists to collaborate with, and to support and be supported by. I feel passionately about getting Scotland’s photography seen, not only by people in the industry, but also making connections with those outside it. Document Scotland is making this happen, through the website, events and salons as well as exhibitions. It’s a very exciting time for photography in Scotland, and I’m really pleased to be a part of it.

SG: Thank you for joining us Sarah and for taking the time to do this interview Sarah, we’re excited to be working with you!

If you’d like to see more of Sarah’s work please …

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Peripheral Histories

A few friends of Document Scotland are having a 2-venue show in the coming weeks called Peripheral Histories. See below for all the important info and hope to see you at one of the two venues for this Street Level Photoworks supported show! We’re told there is different work in each venue, so make sure to visit both for the full show!

 

Peripheral Histories

Main Exhibition takes place at: Platform, Glasgow: 5 August – 18 September 2016
with a smaller representation of work at The Lighthouse, Glasgow: 5 August – 2 October 2016

Opening Reception: Saturday 13th August, 3-5pm, The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow (Level 4).

A two-venue exhibition featuring work by four Glasgow-based artists. Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte combines photographs made by her father in the last days of the Soviet Union’s grip on her native Lithuania and her own images of life in the West made using expired film as old as the one used by her father. Calum Douglas explores the tension between science and belief in the search for extraterrestrial life in America’s southwestern states, while Alan Knox explores the relationship between the sublime and the uncanny by documenting the architecture of space simulation at the Mars Yard test area, constructed by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage. Sarah Amy Fishlock takes the trajectory of her late father’s life as a point of departure to investigate ideas of grief, mortality and memory.

Peripheral-Histories_small

 

Sarah Amy Fishlock

Sarah Amy Fishlock (b. Glasgow, 1986) works mainly with lens-based media, found images and publications. Her work explores the relationship between the individual and wider social, historical and political realities, the tension between cultural and familial identity, and the problematic nature of memory. Notable projects include Middlemen, a portrait of three Iraqi former British Forces workers, now resettled in Glasgow, Amye & Ahren, documenting a family living with autism, and a 9-month period as Artist in Residence at Glasgow’s Citizen’s Theatre in 2013/14. Sarah’s work has been featured by Der Grief, BBC News In Pictures and Foto 8, and exhibited internationally at venues including Calumet Gallery (New York) the British Council Gallery (Delhi) and the Consul’Art (Marseille). UK exhibitions include the Scottish Parliament (Edinburgh), V&A (London) and Glasgow Women’s Library (Glasgow).

(Sarah’s) Beloved Curve examines the transitory nature of human life in relation to the cyclical and constantly regenerating natural world, as well as being a personal chronicle of my attempts to understand and come to terms with the death of my father, Michael, in 2004. Using double exposure techniques to create a dialogue between my father’s documented (photographed) past and my immediate, unknowable present, the work attempts to reconcile the two realities that grief creates: a before, in which the beloved is a living, breathing person, and an after, in which they exist only in the memory of the bereaved, resigning agency to the imagination of the living. These images speak to the undulating, cyclical nature of grief – in some, my father’s presence is clear, his features perfectly recollected. In others, he is indistinct, as my memory of his physicality is erroded by time, his reality slowly reclaimed by the natural world, receding into the past as my own trajectory continues into the future.

© Sarah Amy Fishlock.

© Sarah Amy Fishlock.

 

©Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

©Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

 

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte is a Lithuanian artist based in Glasgow. She holds a BA in Visual Communication and a Masters in Fine Art with distinction from the Glasgow School of Art. She has exhibited nationally and internationally including Kaunas Photography Gallery, Street Level Photoworks Glasgow, Calumet gallery New York, British Council New Delhi and Rovinj Photodays Croatia. Kotryna is a recipient of grants and awards from Lithuanian Culture Council, Glasgow Visual Art and Craft award scheme, Eaton Trust and Educational and Marshall Trust Glasgow. Kotryna works with photographic image, archival materials, moving image and installation.

Kotryna writes: This body of work combines archival photographs taken by my father in the last decade of USSR’s existence and pictures made by me 30 years later. Unexpected finding of previously unseen negatives showing travels, political events and family scenes prompted me to initiate a visual dialogue in between two different geographical points in Europe, two eras and two political regimes. I am mainly using expired photographic films as old as the ones my father had used- thus questioning notions of time, memory, change and the medium itself. The familiar and the surreal, the personal and the political, memory and expectation weave the visual narrative on the photographic emulsion that is as old as me.

©Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

©Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte

 

Alan Knox

Alan Knox is a photographer based between Glasgow and London.  Since graduating from the Glasgow School of Art where he was the recipient of the Chairman’s Medal, his work has been featured in the British Journal of Photography, Creative Review, GUP, Der Greif and BBC News In Pictures, whilst in 2015 he was named as a finalist in the Daniel Blau Gallery’s 5 Under 30 competition and the Jill Todd Photo Awards. In 2016 he was named as a winner of the Magenta Foundation Flash Forward Awards.

Life on Mars explores the relationship between the sublime and the uncanny by documenting the landscape of Mars as constructed by Airbus Defence and Space at their base in Stevenage.  In the photographic reconstruction of the Martian expanse, the site becomes a liminal boundary between the finite matter of the universe and the infinite expanse of the unknown.  As engineers test the development of the Mars Rover to search for evidence of life on the red planet, the Rover once complete is due to land on Mars in 2020.

 

©Alan Knox

©Alan Knox

 

©Alan Knox

©Alan Knox

 

Calum Douglas

Calum Douglas’ work explores themes of belief, representation and contradiction.His series Only The Dead Have Seen The End Of War looked at the ever evolving conflict in the Middle East. With this series Douglas wished to create work that questions the typical images we see of modern conflicts in the media, while also forcing the viewer to confront their own morality and mortality. The work was exhibited in London and Rome and was featured in British Journal of Photography, GUP and Magenta’s Flash Forward 2016 Catalogue.

Douglas’ most recent series Where Is Everyone? explores other complexities that face humanity, in a search to understand our innate desire for answers to our existence. The series has featured on It’s Nice That and The Guardian Online. In September Douglas will be relocating to Switzerland to embark on a Masters of Photography at ECAL, where he plans to further explore the themes within his recent work.

 

© Calum Douglas

© Calum Douglas

 

© Calum Douglas

© Calum Douglas

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Develop North!

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Sophie Gerrard and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert will be taking part in the inaugural Develop North photo weekend in Aberdeen, on Saturday 3rd October. Sophie and Jeremy will present work from Document Scotland, and hold some free portfolio reviews. More information is below, and we look forward to seeing you there.

 

Gray’s School of Art announces new photography festival

A celebrated line-up of photographers and industry professionals has been unveiled as part of a major new photography festival announced by Gray’s School of Art.

Develop North, a two-day event running over October 2 and 3 at the Robert Gordon University (RGU) campus, will feature a series of free workshops, talks, screenings and exhibitions which explore a range of critical and practical issues in contemporary photography from across Scotland and beyond. (registration is now open, book tickets here.)

Among the featured guests is Gray’s alumnus and Director of Metro Imaging in London Steve Macleod; photographer Jon Nicholson; ‘Goose Flesh Zine‘ creator Sarah Amy Fishlock; and ‘Document Scotland’ photographers Sophie Gerrard and Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert.

An Open Call Submission will also be held during the festival, which looks for entries to examine ‘The experience of the North’ and welcomes submissions from practitioners and enthusiasts from across the north of Scotland and beyond. A selection of work will be chosen to feature as part of an outdoor exhibition in Aberdeen City Centre with Friday, September 25 the closing date for entries.

Head of Gray’s School of Art, Professor Chris O’Neil, said: “We are delighted to announce Develop North as a major new festival for Aberdeen and are extremely excited to have such a great line-up for events to share with people.

“Photography is an art form that is accessible to many people and we hope that the events we have organised will offer something to all practitioners, whether they are keen amateurs or industry professionals.”
More information about the schedule of events, all of which are free and open to anyone, can be found at www.developnorth.com. In order to guarantee a place at one of the events, booking will open from 9am on Monday, September 14.

Keep up to date with the latest news about the festival on Twitter by following @DevelopNorth or on Facebook.

Develop North has been organised by Gray’s School of Art in partnership with Metro Imaging, Street Level Photo Works, Ilford Photo and Harman Technology Ltd.

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Collecting The Gorbals.

A Stroll Through The Gorbals

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Autumn Salons – Edinburgh & St Andrews

As the nights start to draw in, Document Scotland look forward to welcoming you to our two evening Autumn Salon events this November.

We hope you can join us for informal, informative and lively evenings of multimedia presentations, photography and conversation featuring work by the four members of Document Scotland as well as special guests including Sarah Amy Fishlock and Marc Boulay from the Special Collections Division
at the University of St Andrews.

The first of these evenings takes place at Stills Gallery, Edinburgh on Wednesday 12th November, where doors will open at 6pm for a 6:30pm start. The following day, on Thursday 13th November, we will be at St Andrews University Special Collections Reading Room where proceedings will begin at 7:30pm.

To book a place for the event at Stills, please click here.

2014_Document_Scotland_SalonAutumn.v2

 
Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
6:30pm – 8:30pm

FREE

 

Thursday, 13 November 2014
University of St Andrews Special Collections Reading Room
7:30pm – 9:30pm

FREE

 

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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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Iraqi Middlemen….Sarah Amy Fishlock

 

(c) Sarah Fishlock, 2013, All Right Reserved

As one might expect when photographing Iraqis who were resettled in Glasgow after having worked with the British government and forces in Iraq, the security of my subjects was paramount. I learned to make alternative portraits – images that did not explicitly reveal faces or identifying features, but that communicated something essential about the situation in which these families find themselves. Leaving a war-torn homeland in which they were viewed as ‘collaborators’ with the occupying forces, they face different problems in the UK – language barriers, an unstable employment market, and social isolation.

This image was taken right at the start of the project: I planned to take a few quick shots of Joe (not his real name) in his living room, as a way of familiarising him with the process. Joe’s wife was in the kitchen and his daughter was running about excitedly, wondering who this strange person was in her house. I asked Joe to stand by the window; a dignified, fastidious man, he clasped his hands behind his back. The winter light was weak so I set the shutter speed to 1/15 and worked with the aperture wide open – a necessity that later proved fortuitous.

After I had taken a few frames and was about to tell Joe that he could move, the little girl ran into the frame and stared straight at the camera; I quickly exposed one frame before she ran away. I was left feeling that something serendipitous had occurred, and when I saw the developed negative I was proved right; the combination of wide aperture, slight camera shake and shadow had even obscured her face enough for Joe to be happy for the image to be used. And anyway, he said, she won’t look the same in a few years. Maybe he was seeing her in the future: starting school, speaking English with a Glasgow accent, going to university, having a family of her own. Asking her parents about Iraq, the far-off country in which she was born. Picturing her story as a Scottish story, and feeling he’d done the right thing.

 

Sarah’s photograph, and others from her series, “Middlemen”, 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.

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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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Middlemen

Today here on Document Scotland we post a portfolio of Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ series, work examining the lives of former Iraqi translators working for the British Governement and army in Iraq. We caught up with Sarah and she kindly agreed to answer some questions about her project via email:

DS- What made you take on this project, how did it come about ?

SF- I was interested in documenting the lives of people from the Middle East who have settled in Glasgow. I spent a few months researching and trying to make contacts, with limited success. As it turned out, the Scottish Middle Eastern Council were receptive to my ideas and helped put me in touch with three men who had worked with the British forces and government in Iraq, and who were now settled in Glasgow under the Locally Engaged Staff Assistance Scheme. My project then evolved into a portrait of these three families and their new lives in the UK.

DS- How difficult was it to gain the access to the people you’ve photographed, and what was their reaction to your request to show a little of their lives ?

SF- Once I had built up a rapport with SMEC, they passed on the email addresses of the three men, who had agreed to meet with me to discuss the project. I then met with the families individually to present my ideas and discuss how we might tell their stories without revealing their identities. All three men and their families were incredibly accommodating and enthusiastic about the project. I see ‘Middlemen’ as a collaborative project between myself and the three families: the images were born out of an ongoing discussion about the best way to present the stories while still preserving the subjects’ anonymity. One of the men is a calligrapher and helped me with the beautiful cover for my book, while another translated my interviews into Arabic for inclusion in the book. So I think it was also a way for them to tell their stories, and I hope that taking part in the project was useful in helping them to process their experiences.

Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ book.

 

Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ book.

 

DS- Was it difficult to build their trust, how did you go about this ?

SF- I had done a lot of research into Iraq’s history and customs beforehand: i think it’s really important to have a solid understanding of your subject, especially if your project involves a culture that you are unfamiliar with. I began by explaining why I wanted to do this project and what it would entail, as well as setting boundaries with my subjects so that I was completely certain of what I could and couldn’t photograph.  I then interviewed my subjects to gain background knowledge: I did this by asking general questions which then often led to specific recollections. My attitude to interviews is pretty straightforward: I research, prepare well, and turn up on time! I think most people will give you the time of day, if you show that you respect their time and attention.

DS- How long have you been working on the series, it is finished, or do you envisage adding to the work ?

SF- ‘Middlemen’ took about 9 months to complete – I see it as a finished body of work, although I am still in contact with my subjects and would consider revisiting the project in the future. I feel that it’s a very intimate body of work that encapsulates a moment in time: three families starting their new lives in an unfamiliar country. I don’t know if it needs to be added to.

DS- has the work been exhibited or published, or are there future plans for it to be shown or published ?

SF- The work was shown in the Scottish Parliament in 2011, and the Lighthouse, Glasgow and V&A London in 2012.

Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’

 

Sarah Amy Fishlock’s ‘Middlemen’ book.

 

DS- Many thanks Sarah, best of luck with your work, and thanks for sharing it here with us.
See further work photographic work by Sarah Amy Fishlock, and send her a note on Twitter @SarahFishlock.

 

 

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