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.


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



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



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Harry Benson, our new honorary patron.

At home in New York

Harry Benson, at home in New York © Stephen McLaren


Document Scotland is thrilled to announce that Harry Benson CBE, one of the world’s leading photographers of the last sixty years, and a proud son of Clarkston, Glasgow, has agreed to be our honorary patron.

Harry who lives in New York and Florida, has shot so many iconic pictures from the 20th century that it would take us too long to list them, but a quick Google search will bring up legendary pictures of the Beatles, the American Civil Rights era, massive film stars and the assassination of Robert F Kennedy. Life magazine may no longer be with us, but its influence on the history of photojournalism is huge, and Harry was its most published photographer at the time it ceased publication.

Harry arrived in America in 1964 with the Beatles, but began his career by taking wedding photographs and later working for the Hamilton Advertiser in the 1950s before moving to London for the Daily Express. Since then, Harry has continued to shoot portraits, commissions and stories in Scotland much of which is showcased on his website. Most recently, he was back in Edinburgh to unveil his new portrait of the Queen which was taken for the Scottish National Portrait Gallery whilst his portraits of the last four Presiding Officers are on permanent display at the Scottish Parliament.


Harry Benson unveils his new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh,  July 2014. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Harry Benson unveils his new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, July 2014. © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert


Stephen McLaren recently paid a visit to Harry and his wife Gigi, who makes all of his prints.  They enjoyed a conversation about photography, football and Scotland.  Despite being in his 80s, Harry shoots every other day and spoke of a recent assignment to photograph fashion icon Carolina Herrera.
When asked about his philosophy, Harry passed on a few thoughts which should stand any documentary photographer in good stead:  “If you work hard you are inclined to get lucky in photography.  Try to get out of the studio, in my opinion anything you can re-do is not good photography.  Pictures should have an edge about them, a good picture cannot happen again.  A moment that is frozen in time – it’s obvious to me this is what great photography is all about.


Glasgow Housewives with US Navy , © Harry Benson

Glasgow Housewives with US Navy , © Harry Benson


“‘Each a glimpse and gone forever,’ is my favourite line from the Robert Louis Stevenson poem From A Railway Carriage. It’s about a boy riding in a train, watching scene after scene go by. And to me that is what a photograph is, a glimpse caught and then gone forever.”

As someone who always seemed to be at the right place at the right time it is no surprise to learn that he is an incredibly self-motivated and driven photographer. “I do admire other photographers and their work, but I am more interested in looking at their pictures and asking myself if I could have shot it better.”

Document Scotland’s photographers hope that they can learn from Harry Benson’s dedication to his craft and emulate his longevity in the photography world.


Glasgow Dior Fashion Show, 1957 © Harry Benson

Glasgow Dior Fashion Show, 1957 © Harry Benson



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New book by Marc Wilson

We interviewed Marc Wilson and featured his impressive project ‘The Last Stand‘ on the Document Scotland site a while ago. His project beautifully documents some of the physical remnants of the Second World War on the coastlines of the British Isles and northern Europe.

When we first spoke to Marc, he had already travelled to over 100 locations and was in the process of crowd funding  to complete the project and travel to further locations all over Scotland, England, Wales, France, Denmark, Belgium, The Channel Islands and Norway. The result is a beautiful book and an impressive document of the various bunkers, gun emplacements and observation posts which exist on these coastlines. Many of these locations are no longer in sight, either subsumed or submerged by the changing sands and waters or by more human intervention. At the same time others have re-emerged from their shrouds.

In Scotland, the building of coastal defenses was concentrated on Scotland’s east coast as anti-aircraft defenses existed to protect strategic locations on the west, such as the Firth of Clyde, the region’s industries, the shipyards and the city of Glasgow. Some of the locations Marc photographed in Scotland include Lossiemouth, Newburgh, Findhorn, Loch Ewe, Hoy, Flotta, Northmavine, Unst and Lerwick.


Marc sent us some information about the book which you can pre-order here – we hope you enjoy it…


Stanga-Head, Unst, Shetland, Scotland image © Marc Wilson 2013 all rights reserved

Stanger Head, Flotta, Orkney, Scotland, 2013 © Marc Wilson 2013 all rights reserved.  To protect Hoxa Sound, the main entrance channel to Scapa Flow, new coastal defences were established during WW2. They included gun and rocket batteries, boom nets, searchlights, also anti-aircraft and barrage balloon sites. The Navy’s signaling and observation station on Stanger Head was also enlarged.



Lamba Ness, Unst, Shetland, Scotland, 2013 © Marc Wilson 2013 all rights reserved. Because of their proximity to occupied Norway, where the Germans had established U-boat and Luftwaffe bases from which they threatened Allied shipping in the North Atlantic, it became urgent for Britain to extend the range of the radar covering Orkney and Shetland. A Chain Home Low radar station (RAF Skaw) was set up at Lamba Ness in Unst, the most northerly island of Shetland. It could detect enemy aircraft flying at a minimum altitude of 500 feet.

marc-wilson-last-stand-book-5 marc-wilson-last-stand-book-4


You can click here to see more of Marc Wilson’s project The Last Stand on his website

Marc is also on Twitter here.





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