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 in 2012 with a late night conversation between photographers Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Colin McPherson and Stephen McLaren in a bar in Beijing. Once the idea took hold and they were back home, they recruited Sophie Gerrard to form the new collective. It’s been quite a voyage over the last eight years. 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. There was a follow-up joint exhibition with A Fine Beginning, our colleagues from Wales, which was staged at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, and accompanied by Common Ground, an extended catalogue from both shows.

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.

We followed up through 2016-17 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.

2018 was another year of making work in preparation for exhibitions the following year. We still found time to have our photography shown at the Festival Interceltique in Lorient, France – the world’s largest Celtic cultural event.

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.

We followed this up with our first exhibition in Germany: Reflections on a Changing Country featured work by all four of our founding members and was part of three months of cultural activities in the city focusing on Scotland.

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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