As our inaugural Document Scotland exhibition, “Seeing Ourselves”, opens this week in Glenrothes, we are featuring a blog each week for the duration of the exhibition from all contributing photographers. The feature is called, “Why I Took this Picture”, and needs no further explanation. First-up, Stephen McLaren, on his photograph, “Dolly”.
“When the weather disappoints in Edinburgh I relish visiting the re-born National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. As the atrium of the Grand Gallery draws light in from its amazing glass canopy you can get decent pictures in there at reasonable shutter speeds.
Most of the other galleries are moodily lit and it’s not so easy to get a stable picture without using a tripod, however, one day I noticed that Dolly, the world’s first cloned mammal, was nicely lit in her glass box. The taxidermists had done a great job on her and she resembled a fleecy movie star as she rotated under spotlight along with some fake straw and plastic dung. Dolly was a big girl by sheep standards and the story that she was born as a ten-year-old in genetic terms might account for this.
Anyway, as befits her celebrity status and her pioneering role as a global-first for Scottish science, I enjoyed watching museum goers, gaze at the woolly celeb in her rotating box. Parents would point energetically and try to explain her provenance to children, but it was a solitary man, who stood stock-still with hand over heart, who gained my attention. I don’t know if he regarded cloned Dolly as an act of patriotism, or was just wondering how big her lamb chops might have been, but his concentrated gaze made me take this picture.”