‘Group Mentality’

The British Journal of Photography has published online an article they’ve written about photographers working in collectives, and how strength of numbers can help you along in the turbulent photography market.

Sophie Gerrard spoke on Document Scotland’s behalf to explain a little about why our collective was formed and how it works. You can read the article, ‘Group Mentality’ online here. And Tweet your comments to the British Journal of Photography here.


British Journal Of Photography online.

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‘Seen Unseen’, Galeri BU, Istanbul

Not strictly Scotland, but Document Scotland’s Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert has his Roma portraits work included in the ‘Seen Unseen’ photography show at Galeri BU, in Istanbul, Turkey, until July 12th.

Also included in the show is the work of Ken Schles, Edward Keating, Antonin Kratchovil of VII Agency, Stephen Dupont, Ken Light, Arjen Zwart, Goskin Varan, Jeffrey Wolin, and Hai Zhang. The work was shown last year at the Bursa Photo Festival, but the images remained in Turkey, and have formed this new smaller show, a selection from the wider festival programme. The show was curated by Jason Eskenazi, and assisted by Arjen Zwart and Huseyin Yilmaz.

'Seen Unseen', at Galeri BU, Istanbul, until July 12th.

‘Seen Unseen’, at Galeri BU, Istanbul, until July 12th.

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A Lanarkshire Farm….Radek Nowacki

It was a foggy, cold morning  and I decided to make a round of Shotts fields to find some nice and quiet landscapes.I was driving the A71 to West Tarbrax Farm when I noticed this back road blocked by 2 huge tractor tires. It was my “Wow! Look at that”.  It was the way the light  softened by morning fog hits the object. I asked myself a lot of times what makes me stop and take my pictures. Something attracts me  in  a visceral way. I do not think about it much because it is not intellectual. It is purely visual.

After exploring many aspects of farming in Lanarkshire, after visiting a number of busy auction houses, and experiencing the energy around the industry, I came back again and again to the relatively quiet subject of one particular family farm near the town of Shotts, where I live. I am looking  for quiet and lyric documentary style, simple and strong portraits connected with lyric landscape.

Very quiet and foggy mornings full of soft and diffused light have helped me to catch the beauty of the moment, the light, the composition and structure, the tonality and emotional quality and that is the magic of photography. Finally I have decided to use black-and-white negatives to take quiet, lyric and disturbing images from hidden, farmer’s world.

Radek’s photograph, and others from his series, “The Farmer DNA”, 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.

Document Scotland’s latest newspaper, which accompanies the exhibition can be bought online. Treat yourself.  http://www.documentscotland.com/seeing-ourselves-newspaper/


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Inside HMP Low Moss….Jenny Wicks


(c) Jenny Wicks, 2013, All Rights Reserved

The residency I undertook last year was an incredible experience. I gained unprecedented access to three Scottish Prisons, one of which hadn’t yet opened for ‘business’. To explore a world that is shrouded in mystery and suffers from an excess of representation and to make new work in and around these spaces was, without a doubt a privilege.

The conceptual frame for the project focused on the ways criminological researchers relate to the spaces where research is conducted, analysed and disseminated. A central premise is that working in particular spaces simultaneously contributes to their meaning as places of punishment. As the residency progressed I discovered striking juxtapositions of the mundane and the spectacular in the work of criminology. Suicide watch cells, the back of a prisoner transport van, a storage room holding physical restraint chairs and Zimmer frames mark sites of extreme human experience and yet at the same time are part of someone’s day at the office: a site where data is collected, transferred to spreadsheets and displayed to audiences in lecture theatres and conference halls.

The tree and chair is an image that I find very striking. As I waked through the hall ways of HMP Low Moss, with its modern, clean design, empty spaces and static energy I was struck by the conflicting messages; the fact that soon these walls would be occupied by men who’s lives were less than ordered, where chaos was central and the contrast between the space and the lives it would soon house was huge.

The massive tree taking centre stage in the hall as a way to almost humanise the clinical space dwarfing the chair, which was still in it’s protective plastic wrapping ready to be unveiled. I wondered if the architects or designers really understood what the space was being used for or if they had a generic footprint they used for all their government or council run projects; did new build schools, health centres, hospitals also have unnecessarily massive trees inside their halls?

I’d be very interested in revisiting the site to see what human marks have been left.


Jennys’ photograph, and others from her series, “Working Spaces Punishing Spaces”, 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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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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Dolly The Sheep……Stephen McLaren

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.”


A Private Viewing of “Seeing Ourselves” will be held on Saturday 8th June 2013 at FotoSpace Gallerie, Rothes Halls, Glenrothes. 3-5pm. Please join us.  The exhibition continues until August 1st 2013
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