Fareweel to a’ oor Scottish fame Fareweel oor ancient glory Fareweel even tae oor Scottish name Sae famed in martial story Noo Sark runs o’er the Solway sands Tweed runs tae the ocean Tae mark where England’s province stands Such a parcel o’ rogues in a nation
– Robert Burns, 1791
Exactly two years ago, I embarked on a 12-month journey to trace Scotland’s border with England. The result was A Fine Line.
Starting in the frontier town of Gretna, separated from England by the tiny river Sark, I followed a meandering series of paths, tracks and roads and over the next year drifted from west to east, finally ending my journey at the North Sea, a few miles north of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The purpose was part-documentary, part self-discovery: I wanted to explore my identity as a Scot exiled in England through photography and with the referendum on Scottish Independence on the horizon, it seemed to be the perfect time for such a project.
My travels took me to towns and villages, moorland and hilltops. I photographed people I encountered along the way and events which make up the fabric of life on the border. I researched my trips, looking at the geography, history and topography of my destinations, but beyond that, I left it to my mind and eyes to wander across the stunning landscapes and ancient settlements. The only restriction I placed on myself was that all the images should be ‘made in Scotland’.
Shooting everything on a single, medium-format film camera allowed me to focus on the content of the images without the distraction of choices of different lenses. The result was a fusion of documentary, portraiture and landscape photography which was put together to reflect my personal experiences and points-of-view.
As the debate and discussion around Scotland’s ongoing relationship with her bigger, more powerful neighbour continues through the ballot boxes at Westminster and Holyrood, I envisage retuning to the border lands some time soon and rediscovering the people and places of this unique habitat.
Highs, lows, an historical and unforgettable week for Scotland.
Here are some of the images shot by Colin McPherson, Sophie Gerrard, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Stephen McLaren in the lead up to and over the 18th September 2014. The world was watching, and so were we…
This is only a small selection of the work shot by Document Scotland’s 4 photographers on the days surrounding the 18th September 2014. You can see more on each of on our websites and by following these links …
For the first time in a UK political vote, individuals who turn 16 on or before 18th September 2014 are eligible to vote in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum.
Shot in homes, bedrooms, public places and parks, Scottish Sweet Sixteen introduces us to a number of young people of voting age in Scotland and the spaces they spend time in. These adolescents share their views on being 16 in Scotland today and what, if anything, having this vote means to them. Some describe the referendum as motivating them to become interested in politics for the first time in their lives. Others are unsure and nervous of how to vote, uncertain of what to think or of whether they will vote at all.
Stacey, (above) aged 16, Kirknewton
“Stacey, 16. “I’ve had a chat about independence and the referendum and I understand what it is, it’s about Scotland being its own country. But it’s complicated. I do want to vote, I do want to learn about it, because it could make Scotland a different place. I don’t go to school anymore, I left. I’ve been in 3 different foster homes, this one for the longest. At 16 I feel I’m just starting to come into the world, and be old enough, I’m a young adult now.”
Millie, 16, Portobello: “I think it is really important for sixteen year olds to have the opportunity to vote in the referendum. It affects our future – in many ways more than our parents generation. However, usually when you vote in an election, the results last for 4 years and there is potential for change. It’s a daunting idea that my first vote could have permanent consequences.”
Charlotte, 16, Firrhill: ““I think it’s a privilege to have this vote now that I’m 16. Especially for something so close to me, it’s really important that I have my say. I had no idea about politics before the independence referendum, I wasn’t interested, then my dad became more involved, my friends started to have conversations about it. I decided to inform myself and I found it was something I felt really strongly about. I’m passionate about independence, I’m voting yes and I want people to know that. I feel it’s vital for our country, it’s an opportunity to really make a change, to take a stance. It’s so important for my life, for the people around me and for my future and that’s why it’s important to me.”
Eddie, 16, Musselburgh. “The referendum is a really important thing for me, it got me into politics, I’ve joined a political party now, it’s had a real effect on my life. When you’re 16 you can work, you can get married, you pay taxes, you contribute to society. I think a person who pays their taxes should be allowed to vote, they’re doing their bit for the country. I would like to get a job as a politician. People say politicians are out of touch with society, I feel I’m more in touch, I’d like to be a voice for the people.”
Maarja, 16. “I’ll be applying to university before I’m 17, I’ll be going to university before I’m 18. i am looking forward to voting. I haven’t made a decision on how I want to vote yet. My dad is quite strongly on one side but the rest of my family are on the other side. I’m glad they extended the vote to 16 year olds but it does worry me too. I think people need to research it properly before they go ahead. Not just listening to their parents. I think whatever happens it will be such a big effect on the affect of Scotland for the rest of our lives so we should vote.”
Rachel, Carys & Lindsay, aged 15 & 16, Bonnyrigg. “At this age we’re inbetween being adults and being kids. We’re not always treated the age we actually are. We’re given freedom but not too many responsibilities, that’s the best thing about being 16. We talk about voting, and what to decide, I think 16 yr olds are just as able to make an informed decision on the referendum as quite a lot of adults, I think the teenagers who vote will be the ones who have done their research and know what they want, otherwise I don’t think they’ll bother to vote at all.
Neil, 16, Linlithgow: “I’m really excited about voting, there’s nothing that’s been so important for our generation. My generation are the ones that will live with independence, it it happens, for the longest time. We’re the ones that will deal with whatever’s decided. I think that’s a really exciting thing. Some young people might be influenced by their parents but I’d say I’ve definitely got different views from mine. I’ve not been influenced by them. I want to show my family that I’m capable of making a decision. I hear the argument that at 16 we’re too immature and we wont be able to make the right decisions but I think you can find that at any age. There are so many younger people that I’d trust with political decisions than older people.”
Sean, 16, Saughton. “What’s the referendum? Oh, ok, I’m going to vote for us not to be independent. I don’t know why, that’s just what I think.
William, aged 16, Saughton. “I startied thinking about it properly in about April this year. I’ll vote because it’s my opportunity to show my view of what I want the Scottish future to be. I’ll be voting no to independence.
I’m voting to keep the union because I think the country is fine being run the way it is now and I dont feel a need for change.”
With this body of work, shot in the summer of 2014, my aim was to meet as many young people of first time voting age as I could and collect and record their opinions on the referendum. I didn’t ask them which way they planned on voting, my interest lay more in how they felt about having the vote, not necessarily in what they planned on doing with it.
Following on from the series of photographs I posted last week, showing people out campaigning either for or against Scottish independence for the referendum which will be held on September 18th this year, I show below some more images from the same series.
I’m intrigued to see portraits of the people for whom their belief and interest in politics and their wish for their country’s destiny is so strong that they volunteer to share newsletters through doors, or go out knocking on doors canvassing for support.
Below are some of those people whom I’ve met so far.
On September 18th of this year the electorate of Scotland will go to the polls, to answer with a simple, or some may believe not-so-simple Yes or No, the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
I’m intrigued to meet the people who believe so passionately about their answer to that question that they are prepared to brave the best and worst of Scottish weather to take their opinion to their fellow public. Whether it be knocking on doors in a wind swept Blantyre in late evening, or standing on the litter strewn pavements of Partick on a Thursday afternoon, I want to see the campaigning, the soliciting of views, the exchanges of conversation in action. I want to meet the people who come September 19th, whatever the outcome, can wake up and say, “Well, I did my bit.”
– Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert
Many thanks to the campaigners of Yes Govan, Yes Kelvin, Yes Rutherglen, and Better Together for graciously allowing me to photograph.
Saturday 21st September, 2013: thousands come to march in support of a ‘yes’ vote in next year’s Independence referendum. Edinburgh provides the venue and historic backdrop for this milestone event.
As the crowds gathered in the High Street, so our photographers went to work, capturing the mood and atmosphere of one of the biggest political demonstrations in the Scottish capital city for years. They came from across Scotland and beyond, the ubiquitous kilts and saltires mixing with flags from Sardinia, Catalunya, Flanders and even Venice. At times it looked and felt more like an away day with the Tartan Army, rather than serious political protest. But I guess that’s the way the Scots do it: colour, humour, banter and a wee bit of Braveheart bravado.
As the marchers processed down North Bridge and up to the rallying point on Calton Hill, Edinburgh’s magnificent skyline revealed itself. It was hard to ignore the stunning background, a 360-degree panorama encompassing urban, rural and maritime. The grey, sober wash of the hintergound contrasted vividly with the pro-Independence foot soldiers. Songs were sung, speeches made, photographs taken.
The skirl of the pipes finally fell silent as the crowds drifted away from Calton Hill at the end of the day. Down on Princes Street, the faithful were swallowed up by shoppers, tourists, hen parties and locals. All that remained were the media, scribbling, filming, editing, filing and recording an historic day.