About Document Scotland

Members of the community on Colonsay gather for a public showcasing of the work made by locals and Document Scotland on the island during the Show Us Colonsay project, May 2022.

It all started with a series of conversations. This led to ideas, plans and dreams. How could individual photographers collaborate to document the historic times Scotland was living through? It was time for collective action. It’s been quite a voyage over the eleven years since Colin McPherson, Sophie Gerrard, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert and Stephen McLaren came together to form Document Scotland. We’d like to share some of the highlights with you, to remind ourselves also of where we’ve been and what we’ve done…

In 2012, we published DOC001, a sell-out newspaper in an edition of 1000 which introduced Document Scotland and our work and set out our ideas, plans and intentions.

The following year proved to be very busy. We staged our first exhibition, Seeing Ourselves, a collaborative show featuring the work of ten Scottish photographers held at FotoSpace in Fife. Off the back of that, we started putting together our own projects as well as more publications.

2014 was a pivotal year, not just for us, but also for Scotland. We had our first exhibition on foreign soil as we headed to Bradford and showed Beyond the Border at Impressions Gallery. We followed this up with Common Ground, a joint exhibition with A Fine Beginning, our colleagues from Wales, which was staged at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, and accompanied by an extended catalogue from both shows that year.

Moving on to 2015, and Document Scotland’s photographers were once again on the road, making work for our landmark exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. The Ties That Bind opened in September and ran for seven months, ending in April 2016.

The years 2016-17 were busy with a number of public events, including our ongoing popular salon evenings at which we share and showcase our own work and that of other photographers making work about Scotland. We were also joined on our journey at that time by Glasgow-based photographer Sarah Fishlock, with whom we had previously collaborated. Sarah stayed with us for a year before making the difficult decision that her career path led away from photography. We were proud to be part of the Festival Interceltique in Lorient, France – the world’s largest Celtic cultural event, which showcased our work.

2018 was another year of making work in preparation for exhibitions the following year.

2019 saw Document Scotland launch and tour A Contested Land, four new projects which were premiered at the Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol and subsequently toured venues in England and Scotland.

Responding to the challenges of the Pandemic, we devised and delivered two groundbreaking projects which focused on diverse communities. Show Us Shetland and Highlighting the Highlands received funding principally from Creative Scotland and allowed us to collaborate with young people in the Shetland islands as well as groups of Syrian refugees in the north. In 2022 we took to the road to stage Show Us Colonsay, a collaborative community project which allowed local people and our team of photographers to produce and present work together.

In August 2021 we opened our first exhibition in Germany: Reflections on a Changing Country featuring work by all four of our founding members and was part of three months of cultural activities in the city focusing on Scotland.

In September 2023, we were delighted to welcome two outstanding and talented photographers in to our collective. Following Jeremy’s and Stephen’s departures, Margaret Mitchell and Craig Easton joined Document Scotland. With them they brought ideas and fresh impetus and a willingness to work together on our plans and projects over the next few years.

We are constantly seeking to develop and grow. To do so, we need your support. We’d love to continue our journey, and have you along for the ride. We are committed to documentary photography in Scotland and if you are too, you can help us by becoming one of our patrons. Thank you!

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