Jim Yorkston – Haneen lil watten

Jim Yorkston’s exhibition opened at the Filmhouse last night.

We’ve been on the lookout for an opportunity to feature Jim’s work on the Document Scotland blog so we had a chat with him about this latest work ‘Haneen lil watten’ – meaning ‘A Yearning for my Homeland.’

Rima, Jayyus © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Rima, Jayyus © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


Dreaming of Jerusalem © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Dreaming of Jerusalem © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


DS – What’s this new work about and how did you get involved with the project?

JY – This project was conceived and created for the Jill Todd Photographic Award 2013. Having completed my BA in Professional Photography I was eligible to apply to the award and, I felt it would be a good way of maintaining the momentum of the course by working on a fresh project with a hand in date.

‘Haneen lil watten’ (a yearning for my homeland) began as a series of photographic portraits resulting from my encounters with various Palestinian people living in Scotland. Using ‘home’ as a central theme, a fluid and diverse concept to people of Palestinian descent, each sitter is viewed in a moment of contemplation as they think of ‘home’. Through the portraits I also wanted to describe the objects and items the people kept close to them as reminders of home, and as a continuation of their culture from afar. This led me into looking closer at the textures, which seemed to be a prevalent across the different homes I visited and which are also an important part of the Palestinian culture.



Ahmad – Ya’bad © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


Hadeel #1 © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Hadeel #1 © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


JY – For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in Palestinian history and affairs so ‘Haneen lil watten’ has been, for me, a personal exploration of the issue of Palestine, now shared with a wider audience.

My reason for including the mixture of portraits and details and textiles was I wanted to get away from only showing a portrait after a portrait, I feel this can sometimes become repetitive. Because the main theme of the project is ‘home’, I felt the objects that some of the people keep as reminders of home were very interesting and appropriate for inclusion in the project. I regard the images of details to be as much a portrait as any of the images with people in them.

The hand woven textures were an ever present over the project, appearing in nearly every home either as cushions, dresses or wall decorations. They are regional in their design and speak specifically about certain regions, so they exist almost as a form of visual communication in this regard.

The longer you look at these designs you can almost feel the hands that created them and I started to wonder if this is why they are retained by so many of the people I was photographing. Apart from being beautiful, was this a way to physically touch their homeland? Their bothers and sisters? Their past?

I know that photographically they are very graphic but by including them I am personally moving into new territory. I really think they fit well into the project but I will be interested to hear from others, a lot more qualified than me, to see if they concur.

This is all still a learning curve, in regards to editing a project, selecting the images to be shown and deciding what doesn’t make the final edit. These are early days for me and I won’t get it right every time but I am open and keen to listen to constructive feedback and I will take that on board for the next project.


Anita, Jerusalem © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Anita, Jerusalem © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


DS – How did you meet and find your subjects?

JY – I made initial contact through the Scottish Friends of Palestine group and from there once I had met the first person and explained who I was and what I hoped to achieve, each person seemed to lead to the next. Attending Palestinian cultural events and meetings also helped make further contacts, and these in turn, helped me understand the subject of Palestine further.

I must say that, the people I have been introduced to throughout this project have been, amongst the most welcoming and hospitable people I have had the pleasure to meet and I am very grateful for their understanding and eagerness to help me make this work.

Ghazi Safad © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Ghazi Safad © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.



Hadeel #2 © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Hadeel #2 © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


DS – Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Jill Todd – tell us about that experience.

JY – Being involved in the Jill Todd Award has been a great experience and the portfolio review with Tom Hunter was invaluable. It was very interesting to see the other entrants’ interpretation of the central theme of the award and the experience of being part of this can only serve to strengthen my practice going forward.

Although the creation of this award has been brought about through what are tragic circumstances, it exists and continues to grow as a fitting tribute. I think the people behind the award should be proud of what they have achieved and I would encourage every graduate to support it and get involved.


Hala, Ramallah © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Hala, Ramallah © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


DS – what else are you working on, what’s next?

JY – Since graduating I have been assisting David Eustace, in my opinion, one of the finest photographers around. Whilst studying I always held David’s photography in the highest regard, so to have the opportunity to continue to learn from him is very rewarding.

The Jill Todd Award is once again open for entrants and I have a few ideas I am considering as potential subjects this time so that is quite exciting. As for new projects, if you look at my website, I seem to have been photographing older men in pubs since I got into photography so maybe its time for a new direction, maybe I will start work on a set of still life’s or even better, a set of ‘fine art’ nudes…

Tasnim & Yasmina, Jenin © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.

Tasnim & Yasmina, Jenin © Jim Yorkston 2014 all rights reserved.


Thanks for sending us the work Jim and for answering our questions. Good luck with the exhibition.



Jim Yorkston at the opening of the exhibition at The Filmhouse, 11th May 2014
© Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.



Jim Yorkston at the opening of the exhibition at The Filmhouse, 11th May 2014
© Sophie Gerrard 2014 all rights reserved.



‘Haneen lil watten’ is exhibited at The Filmhouse Cafe, Lothian Road, Edinburgh  and will be shown as part of the Middle Eastern Film Festival 2014, from the 11th-27th of May.

To see more of Jim’s work see his website www.jimyorkston.com

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Sandy Carson “Steadfast Love”


Curly with Hammer © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


Sandy Carson is a Scottish photographer now living in Austin, Texas. He is an established photojournalist in America and has rarely been back to Scotland. Recently however, he returned to catch-up with his family in Newmains, Lanarkshire and started a series of photographs about his folks called, Steadfast Love, a series of intimate portraits including archive material that his mum has collected over the years. Document Scotland caught-up with Sandy in San Francisco where he was working on his excellent project, “Black Friday”, which you can see on his website…..www.sandycarson.com


DS What was it like going back to your family home to take pictures with a degree of intent?

SC When I started making the photos I didn’t have any intention, other than to take back some memories of home, but after numerous visits over the years, the photos began to navigate towards a narrative, based on my family and their immediate surroundings. I do have specific photographs I intend to make each time I go back since the project has some structure now but it’s really casual and mostly candid. It’s interesting making observational pictures of your parents and their routines when you don’t see them from one year to another but despite how bland and ritualistic it can be, I find it always entertaining.


Curly hanging out the washing © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


(C) Sandy Carson

© Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS What were you looking for?

SC  To make a respectful and light hearted self-portrait of my parents in their retirement and to document the village that I grew up since I emigrated at such a young age. My parents are getting old and after being in the States for two decades, I feel like my photography can help me understand them more from the chunk of time I’ve been absent in the family. My family are quite content and support anything I’m doing really, just as long as I’m afloat and eating ok. They are not connected to the internet world and rarely see my photos unless a family member reports to them what I’ve been up to on the internet. I send prints occasionally, a few of them they don’t like so much and think I’m daft when I am making photos of them. My mother has a collection of family photos, dictaphone tapes and artifacts she keeps in a big biscuit tin that date back to the 40’s onwards, all shot by different family members, passed on from my grandfather, who was an artist. Those snapshots and sound-bites had quite an influence on me growing up and I enjoy revisiting the nostalgia each time I go home.


Mum’s prayer book © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Mary Doll © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS What was your camera set-up when taking the pics close to home? Why did you make that choice?

SC I made the photographs using 35mm, medium and large format. I find that the bigger the format, the more quality time I can spend with my family or subjects in set-up time – just slowing life down in general. I’ve shot digital on occasion but didn’t like the process or the end result. There just wasn’t any magic or nostalgic physicality to the digital files versus a piece of film. My family are old school and I feel like it’s only fair to shoot analogue with the aesthetic. It’s also nice to take a break from using digital cameras when I got back, as I use them to death for my commercial and editorial work, here in the states.

DS Tell us something about your family as individuals and as a family unit?

SC They are just your average Scottish working class retirees and comedians battling on and keeping each other going. They vacation in Spain like a lot of Scotland holidays makers and support Glasgow Rangers, despite their epic fail in the premiere league. In-house bar opens at 9pm every night, (sometimes earlier).


Dinner © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


Sandy Carson's parents (C) Sandy Carson

© Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS When was the last time you were in Scotland? What changes have you noticed? What were the biggest challenges taking pictures, both on the road, and nearer to home?

SC I came back last summer for a visit with my girlfriend. It hasn’t changed around where I grew up, except for graffiti being painted over, or the local neds changing their gang names. It’s always been a challenge and kind of scary making photos sometimes in schemes. I’ve definitely been swung-at, chased and asked why I am taking photos, even by children. The last thing I want is to get stabbed again! Why else would I take photos in schemes if I’m not from the Social Security? On the road and out of the scheme, you just become another tourists taking photos pretty much.


Police station © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Swing Park © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Neighborhood Question © Sandy Carson all rights reserved


DS What are your plans for further photography in Scotland?

SC I plan on continuing this project and see what corner it takes me, or until I think it’s done. I’m planning on riding my bike with some friends from John O’Groats to Land’s End this summer, which should make for a good adventure and good photo ops. Maybe we’ll stop through my parents house for a cuppa?


Mum watching Tour de France © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Mum’s nightstand © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Primary School and 70th birthday portraits © Sandy Carson all rights reserved



Mum’s slippers © Sandy Carson all rights reserved

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