Scotland’s Tibetan Clan

From 1996, Document Scotland photographer Colin McPherson spent a number of years looking at the lives of Scotland’s Tibetan clan, Buddhist communities who were based at locations around the country. The work has been published at home and abroad. Here he reflects on the work.

“My first encounter with Scotland’s clan of Tibetan monks and nuns almost never happened. Commissioned by the Independent newspaper in 1996 to visit Holy Island to discover why a group of Buddhists had purchaed a 1000-ft lump of rock off Arran, I very nearly missed the only ferry of the day and with it, the assignment. Maybe it was some sort of divine intervention which allowed me to make the crossing, but for me it ended up being much more than just a routine job for a newspaper, rather a 10-year project which has seen me making regular photographic pilgrimages to the Samye Ling monastery near Eskdalemuir and returning time and again to Holy Island to seek out and renew friendships with the communities there. The work has been widely published and exhibited and I count myself fortunate to having been witness to an exciting period in the development of the community in Scotland.”

Colin McPherson

A shrine under construction at the Samye Ling monastery in Dumfriesshire.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved
Rinchen Khandro, a Buddhist nun from the Samye Ling community in southern Scotland, arrives just in time to catch the tiny passenger ferry from Arran to Holy Island.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved.
Akong Rinpoche, Tibetan-born founder of the Buddhist monastery at Samye Ling in Dumfriesshire.
Photograph Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved.
A Buddhist lama supervising visiting monks and nuns gardening at the Holy Island on Scotland’s west coast.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved
The newly-built Stupa in the grounds of the Buddhist monastery at Samye Ling, Dumfriesshire.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved
A Buddhist lama talking to visiting monks and nuns at the Holy Island on Scotland’s west coast.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved
Decorative headgear worn by a Tibetan dance troupe, pictured at Samye Ling monastery in Dumfriesshire.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved.
Monks and a nun from the Samye Ling order of Buddhists in Scotland, taking refreshment on Holy Island.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2012, all rights reserved.

Share this:

We hope you have enjoyed the above article and images. Since forming in 2012 all the work featured on this site, and the work undertaken to enable it, has been free of charge. Now, times are changing. To continue we feel we need to ask for your support, to help us manage our time and energies, and to continue sharing photography we care about. Please visit our Patreon page and consider being a supporter.
Thank you - Jeremy, Sophie, Colin.

Become a Patron!