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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Caught on film

 

We all get 15 minutes of fame, so the story goes. To stretch the Warholian reference, in 2005 I got the best part of half-an-hour starring on prime time television. Not strictly true, I admit. It was my photography and the subject of my work which captured the attention of the nation. I was merely a narrator. A walk-on part in my own story. I was reminded of this episode in my career as the short film was first broadcast exactly seven years ago today and featured my work with Scotland’s last salmon net fishermen, a project which had already been ongoing for around a decade.

Entitled ‘Catching the Tide’ and commissioned by Scottish Television and Grampian Television, it allowed me to introduce my work and two of the pivotal figures in the salmon netting community with whom I had formed a strong bond and collaborated with over the years. The film was a family affair: directed by my sister Katrina McPherson and edited by her husband Simon Fildes. Filmed beautifully by cameraman Neville Kidd, the documentary managed to capture the ever-changing weather, dramatic scenery and the perseverance and effort required by the fishermen. Having worked with the whole crew and production team previously as a stills photographer on a number of projects, I felt completely at ease during the filming, even managing to keep seasickness at bay during a stormy afternoon at the bag nets off Auchmithie.

I’ve no idea what the viewing figures were like, but I did get a lot of feedback about the film and the photography. Most was positive; some was negative; a couple of letters were threatening. I knew I was tackling a very sensitive story with the film. The salmon netsmen have many enemies, particularly within the powerful angling fraternity. Those critics didn’t like the slant of the content. My view was that my work was ventilating a particular point-of-view. Anyone can disagree with or criticise that perspective. That is their right. I felt strongly that it was story which had to be told.

The film went on to be repeated on terrestrial television and has been shown subsequently at a number of film festivals across the world, including the Tehran Film Festival, which threw up the tantilising prospect of my words being dubbed into Persian!

For me, it was an interesting way to diversify the direction of a project which was very close to my heart and which I had been associated with for many years. It showed just how a project can change direction and mutate during its lifetime. And it gave me my 24 minutes of fame.

To view the whole film on the internet, or to buy a DVD copy, please visit: http://www.left-luggage.co.uk/catchingthetide.com/Movie.html

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