By David Buchanan
What follows has been gleaned from various paper and online Scottish Photographers publications. Consequently, many of the words are Sandy’s which I have shamelessly copied and pasted into this article, without attribution. Hopefully, I have accurately attributed the words of others.
Stewart Shaw, Memo to Self, First Scottish Photographers publication, early 2002
Scottish Photographers produced its first publication in early 2002. This contained two pictures by Stewart Shaw, and announced two Residential Portfolio Weekends: one at Inversnaid, near Loch Lomond, and the other at Quiraing Lodge on Skye. It also stated that a member had offered to host a website.
This was followed by the first Contact Sheet in March 2003 – an informal newsletter (on paper), which listed photographic events of interest such as the Cindy Sherman exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and, most importantly, exhibitions and events of, by, and for Scottish Photographers. These included: Portfolio Afternoons in Inverness, St Andrews and Glasgow; a visit to Little Sparta; and an exhibition by Sandy Sharp.
The Residential Portfolio Weekend at Inversnaid in April 2002 appears to have been a lively event with much discussion of a wide variety of work: Ian Biggar – pictorial landscapes; Matt Sillars – polemical tortured plants; Robert Burns – jazz portraits; Chris Morris – a remarkable body of work of a very personal nature; Alan Aitchison – prints from his professional work; Bill Ellis – jazz photographs; Stewart Shaw – travel and street photography; Ian Fairgrieve – landscapes; Ian King – fine Van Dyke and platinum prints; Douglas May – Japan; Sandy Sharp – Ravenscraig; and finally, Andre Goulaincourt – colour prints of water.
In September 2002, twelve Scottish Photographers spent a September weekend at Quiraing Lodge in Staffin on Skye as the guests of Sam Gardener and his partner Suzy. Keith Price showed portraits of faceless models taken with a pinhole Hasselblad! A series on the ‘seven ages’ was spread on the floor by Eileen Fitzpatrick. Artist’s books of the land and sky in Skye from Caroline Dear were passed from hand to hand. Jim Mailer showed work made on Rannoch Moor ranging from traditional landscapes to almost abstract tree roots. Matt Sillars’ work was thought challenging by those present. Jill Staples showed books of flower pictures on home made paper. Douglas May showed a panel of architectural work and photographs of sculptures made in Sweden. Chris Morris showed some recent conceptual work. Doug Whittaker gave an account of making photographs of mongrel dogs. Sandy Sharp continues to work in Ravenscraig. Alan Aitchison showed a selection from a body of work made in Italy during the summer.
Matt Sillars, The Hurt of Flowers, Scottish Photography Notes December 2002
The first edition of NOTES was published in summer 2003 (although the name Scottish Photography Notes had been used for a newsletter in December 2002) to a membership of 60. Contributors to the initial issue included Keith Price, Chris Morris, Russ Young, Stewart Shaw, Alan Aitchison and Veronika Woodroffe. David Williams gave permission for one of his images from his series No Man’s Land to be used as an initial “Icon of Scottish Photography”. Subsequent issues of NOTES celebrated other Icons. (There were also occasional Spotlight articles exemplifying the work of those who had not yet become “Icons”.)
December 2003 saw the publication of NOTES number Two. Contributors included Robert Burns, Alan Aitchison (photographs of dancers), Philip Spain (Abstract), Gordon Croft, Stewart Shaw (diptychs), Bob Colins, John Alexander (icebergs), Alicia Bruce from Napier University (portraits), Jane Fenton from Edinburgh College of Art (Glasgowlandscape) and Douglas Bell from Durham University. From its earliest days, Scottish Photographers sought to involve photography students, and Alicia was an early and particularly enthusiastic member.
Alicia Bruce, Mia with Bubbles, NOTES 2 December 2003
At this time there were four active portfolio groups: the East Group, Crawford Centre, St Andrews, is far the most active (at present!) contact Peter Goldsmith; the North Group, Inverness, is the smallest – but the first to form, contact Aileen Fitzpatrick; and the West Group, in Street Level Glasgow, contact Stewart Shaw. A happy spin off from the St Andrews sessions was an exhibition by six photographers in the Lochgelly Centre followed by a solo show, East of the Eden, by Peter Goldsmith.
Peter Goldsmith East of the Eden – Nature Reserves of North East Fife…. a series of projects concerned with the contemporary landscape of North East Fife. Whilst exploring some of the lanes and byways I kept coming across small, almost secret nature reserves. These have over recent years become an integral part of both the conservational and recreational aspects of the countryside.
Peter Goldsmith: Dunbarry Links & The Moss (Bankhead Moss)
Denis Alyshev, Scottish Photographers at Inversnaid Easter 2004 (Clockwise from bottom) Linda Middleton, Ian Fairgrieve, Ian Biggar, Ian King, Bill Ellis, Denis Alyshev, Douglas May, Robert Burns, Sandy Sharp, Andre
NOTES June 2004. There were now about ninety Scottish Photographers. Eileen Fitzpatrick describes a meeting of the Northern Cell:
An inspiring and encouraging portfolio meeting …… [Attended by] Anne Thomson, Caroline Dear, Matt Sillars, John Rhodes and Eileen. John showed large black and white prints of wrapped objects, inspired, by the work of Christo…. Caroline showed her commissioned work as a sculptor and photographer working with other artists and children to restore walls and the dyke in Jig Shore Wood in Skye where she lives …… Matt spoke about his Hurt of Flowers exhibition and work in progress …. Anne is a painter as well as a photographer, with a particular interest in the figure ……. exploring glimpses of the figure in the urban landscape. Eileen showed work relating to many projects, some completed, some nascent …
In August 2004 two workshops were organised, in partnership with the RPS, led by John Blakemore, at Mugdock, near Milngavie and in Fife. One of the workshops was on bookmaking, the other for portfolios.
NOTES 4 December 2004 Contributors included: Iain McLean on Albion Rovers; George Logan – thought provoking portraits; Douglas May – After Munch; Frances McCourt (greenlands: exploring rural landscapes) and Nikki Leadbetter (The Beach) are recent graduates from our art schools
Douglas May, Anxiety: After Munch, NOTES 4 Dec 2004
Eileen Fitzpatrick describes an Autumn Meeting in the North:
[Attending] Peter and Rosemary Koch-Osborne, Alastair Cochrane, Matt Sillars (who kindly provided the venue, his home in Dingwall), John Rhodes and Eileen Fitzpatrick. Matt showed us how his figurative work-in-progress, close-ups of the facial expressions of his children. Rosemary’s delicate and perceptive view of the sea… Peter’s … pictures of people on the London ‘tube’ … implying many untold stories as he observed individuals waiting, or travelling or going down an escalator. John shared his quiet colour, large format, photographs of shopkeepers and the details of their establishments, revealing character and sense of place. Eileen showed two pleasing simple, ‘concertina’, A5 books which she had made during the recent John Blakemore event.
It was reported that Portfolio Sessions had started at Stills Edinburgh, organised by Douglas May
NOTES 5 – Spring 2005 Contributors included: Fiona Porteus – Sandmarks in Space; Joel Conn – Flower Sequence; Sandy Sharp essay Scottish Landscape Photography.
Inversnaid – April 2005 This year John Rhodes produced the biggest colour prints some of us had ever seen. Tony Gardner …. produced lovely little high key prints of ceramics and fabrics. Roger Farnham projected his Irish farm family history ….. Alina Kisina showed her entire life’s work ….. Sandy had holiday snaps and portraits of shoes. Stan Dodd and Ian Fairgrieve were also present.
May 2005 was book month with two workshops at Street Level. John Blakemore introduced his Black and White Photography Workshop with a substantial illustrated lecture. The following week Tillman Crane, complete with giant 5″ x 12″ format camera, introduced Touchstones to an audience which, surprisingly, was quite different to John’s. Scottish Photographers seem to know what they want. There was a bonus at the end of the month. Alan Aitchison persuaded the legendary George Wylie, of paper boat fame, to let us visit his house in Gourock.
The last paper Contact Sheet – Summer 2005 was produced and Scottish Photographers Email (SPEM) started.
Roger Farnham, untitled, All About Barns and Sheds NOTES 6 Autumn 2005 (printed in monochrome)
Around this time Roger Farnham organised an event on Photogravure, and Donald Stewart one on books.
NOTES 6 – Autumn 2005 Contributors included: David Gilanders BESPRIZORNIKA – The Neglected Ones – homeless children in the former Soviet Union; and Roger Farnham – All About Barns and Sheds. And an interview with John Blakemore. Patricia Macdonald featured as an Icon of Scottish Photography.
David Gillanders, Four year old Diana, an AIDS orphan Moscow 2002
David Gillanders, Orechovo Zuyevo maternity ward, Moscow, where orphans of AIDS victims are screened before being sent to state orphanages
NOTES 7- Winter 2005 Contributions: Roy Robertson – Spirit Stone; Norma-Louise Thallon; Digby Sim – The Nineties in a Circle; Aase Goldsmith – History in the Making.
Portfolio Sessions continued: St Andrews (Donald Stewart), Edinburgh (Douglas May and Alicia Bruce), Inverness (Eileen Fitzpatrick ), and Glasgow (Carl Radford) with the prospect of sessions in Aberdeen.
Both NOTES and Contact Sheet reported on Members’ Exhibitions: Hugh Walker (Edinburgh), Alastair Cochrane (Beauly), Douglas McBride (Edinburgh), Roddy Simpson (Opticians Linlithgow!), Thomas Joshua Cooper (Manchester University), Keith Ingham (Stirling University) and Robin Gillanders (SNPG Edinburgh).
NOTES 8 – Spring 2006 Contributors: Anne Crabbe -The Past is a Foreign Country; James S. Porter – Dissolved Within a Large Measure of Life; A Conversation with Thomas Joshua Cooper; Lenka Sedlackova; Stewart Shaw – A Tale of Two Cities, Dundee and the Third Reich
Anne Crabbe, Once a month they waited for their parents at the bridge & Hanging out the washing she sang "Down Mexico Way"
The last PORTFOLIO SESSION at the Crawford Arts Centre St Andrews was held on Sunday 23rd April.
NOTES 9 – Summer 2006 Contributors included: Tony Gardner – Ceramic Manifestations; Matt Sillars; Susan Baker; Hugh Walker – Mexico; Peter Goldsmith reflects on the Corridor Gallery.
Susan Baker: Bothwell Castle, Daer Water, Erskine Bridge & Lamington Tower
The Inversnaid weekend (April 2006) was as popular and varied as ever. An hour at this fixture quickly dispels any notion of defining a typical Scottish Photographer. Douglas May was master of ceremonies, Keith Ingham presented stunning colour street photography and Bill Ellis again demonstrated his sheer professionalism in the jazz scene. Denis Alishev gave us 3D specs on Saturday night, Alicia Bruce made the skin creep and James Porter challenged our identities. The idea that bodies of work are preferred to greatest hits and technical prowess is growing. We are fortunate to have Inversnaid on our doorstep and are grateful to Andre, Linda and Ian for their hospitality and for again generously sponsoring a new generation Scottish Photographer – Alicia Bruce this year.
NOTES 10 – Winter 2006 Contributors included: SUZY GRAY – Skye bus shelters; IAIN MCLEAN exploring Glasgow Lanes; MICHAEL THOMSON’S pinholes in Macau; KEITH INGHAM at leisure in Shanghai
The Island of Rum residential weekend led by George Logan ran in September 2006. George Logan:
…. while working on the Isle of Rum I realised that the island would make an ideal venue for a low cost photography weekend. Rum is a National Nature Reserve with dramatic landscape and Kinloch Castle is a fascinating Edwardian pile ….. the first evening was enlivened by an unexpected ceilidh in the village hall. The only objective for the weekend that I set out was for each in the group to make around six images that would be suitable for showing on the Scottish Photographers web site …… Everyone managed to make interesting work some abstract, some landscape and some a mixture. Nearly everyone made their images as a linear sequence, considering how images worked together, which was interesting, some decided on a more individual image approach. A good percentage of the work was made during an extended tour of the main part of the castle. One of the biggest joy’s of the weekend was that despite the wide range of experience, amateur to professional and even a senior photography lecturer (the programme leader), everyone got on splendidly.
Attendees: Gordon Cameron; Sheila Borthwick; Alan Borthwick; David Buchanan; Nick Dear; Amy Blackwell; Caroline Dear; Cary Welling; Richard Carrey; Mairi Robertson; Douglas McBride; Doug Mackie; Fiona Porteous; George Logan and Ian Biggar (on his yacht).
PORTFOLIO SESSIONS in 2006/7
GLASGOW: Organised by Carl Radford
DINGWALL: At Matt Sillars house (a shared buffet style meal was, and still is a feature of these events), organised by Eileen.
EDINBURGH: Scottish Photographers Evening, Stills Gallery. Those presenting work included Douglas May, Alicia Bruce and James Porter. Organiser Madeleine Shepherd.
FIFE: Fife contains a good number of experienced and creative Scottish Photographers.
John Rhodes, Kinbrace, from a series on buildings in Sutherland NOTES 10 Winter 2006
NOTES 11 – Spring 2007 Contributors included: Martin Reekie; Robin Gillanders talks to Scottish Photographers about education and his continuing passion for personal work; Matt Sillars: Trust, Hope and Desire; John Rhodes continues his fascination with corrugated buildings; Douglas May photographs a Poetry Path; and Aase Goldsmith has a way with the fairies – at a beach in St Monans she found links with Norse myths.
Martin Reekie, Ice Grantown, NOTES 11 Spring 2007
JILL STAPLES ATTENDED the Inversnaid weekend (May 2007) and writes:
The weekend was a great pleasure. We saw varied work from twelve members, and we also saw work by two students in their final year at Napier University …. Ariadne from Athens showed work based on the religious symbols of the Greek Orthodox Church and Una from Sweden showed work based on her vision of post global warming.
NOTES 12 – Summer 2007 Contributors included: David Gillanders – Concerned photographer; Douglas McBride – bonaly woods fern sticks; Margaret Diamond – Penthouse Blues; Keith Price – Seeing the Light; Douglas Thomson – Babelplatz Book Burning Berlin; Veronika Woodroffe in India
In September 2007, John Blakemore led workshops organised by Scottish Photographers in Glasgow and Edinburgh. John gave an illustrated lecture in the mornings and showed his work in print and book form. The afternoons were open portfolio advice sessions.
Portfolio Sessions in late 2007 were organised by Peter Goldsmith at Dunshalt Village Hall in Fife, and by Matt Sillars in Dingwall. Sessions also happened at Stills Gallery in Edinburgh and at Street Level in Glasgow.
NOTES 13 – Winter 2007 Contributors included: Robert Burns – The Unicyclist of Podi; Ariadne Xenou – Abject Hagiographies; Jill Staples – Portraits at the Nursery; Chantal Riekel – Natasha Gilmore residency at lOrge Loga.
Robert Burns, Alla in the Metro, The Unicyclist of Podi, NOTES 13 Winter 2007
NOTES 14 – Spring 2008 Contributions included: David Williams talks to Scottish Photographers; Chris Leslie – The Balkans; Ariadne Xenou; Douglas May – Bird Flu.
Chris Leslie, Snipers view, Sarajevo, The Balkans NOTES 14 Spring 2008
Another Inversnaid weekend was held in 2008. The students this year were Caroline Douglas and Zoe Gibson from Edinburgh College of Art. Caroline described her project ‘Come Together’ The Photobooth, in which couples were asked to take self-portraits in a specially constructed Photobooth at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts between 2005 and 2007, and showed some of the resultant pictures. How prescient – was this the invention of the selfie! Zoe’s touching ‘Family Portrait’ reflected her family’s close association with books through a series of portraits of books important to them.
NOTES 15 – Autumn 2008 Contributions included: Robin Gillanders – Highland Journey, in the footsteps of Edwin Muir; David Buchanan – Snow Forms; Keith Ingham – Urban Echoes, “Images of not seeing people”; John Kemplay – Street photography from his exhibition in Chipping Campden; Alex Boyd – Sonnets from Scotland.
Around this time, David Buchanan became organiser of the Edinburgh Portfolio sessions.
In September 2008, the Northern Group held a Group Exhibition at Inchmore Gallery, near Beauly. Exhibitors were Anne Thomson, Eileen Fitzpatrick, Caroline Dear, Matt Sillars, Peter Fenton, Martin Elder. Peter writes:
…. individual prints … show … diverse approaches …. although we are connected as a group, we all do quite different things with our photography and support each other to do this. We are looking for integrity not perfection!
NOTES 16 – Winter 2008-9 Contributions included: Alina Kisina – The City of Home; Caroline Douglas and Zoe Gibson – Edinburgh College of Art meets Scottish Photographers; Colin Fraser Wishart – Berlin; Peter Fenton – Cyprus Alterniflora; Douglas Thomson: – A Holga in Florence.
Alina Kisina, The City of Home, NOTES 16 Winter 2008-9
Inversnaid 2009. From Roger Farnham and David Buchanan:
… another full house of Scottish Photographers …. This year we had two final year students from Napier University as our sponsored students. Jacqueline Murray showed us polaroids for her fairy tale themed fashion photography she was about to present as her final year project …. Not only had she made the props, but she had also made the clothes. Jacqueline had also hired a team of huskies to act as wolves in one of the shots: I bet she doesn’t tell all on first dates, fascinating stuff. Jamie McAteer showed us a picture from his final year project. This was one of a number of photo re-constructions exploring events in his life. Carl Radford turned up armed with his collodion aluminatype-making equipment and made some, and gave the rest of us a teach-in on the mysteries of the process. Carl also made the group picture as we struggled to keep still for about 10 seconds.
Scottish Photographers W O R K S H O P June 2009, Glasgow. Anticipating that Inversnaid would be over‐subscribed, Roger Farnham, assisted by Keith Ingham, held this event at his house as a salon de refuses.
NOTES 17 – Summer 2009 Contributions included: Carl Radford – Wet collodion portraits. A modern take on an ancient process; Douglas McBride – Counting Things; Roger Farnham – The bridge at Eglinton Street. A commuter’s everyday view of Glasgow; Alicia Bruce – Artist’s residency at Aberdeen Art Centre; Michael Thomson – Dunnydeer Hill, Aberdeenshire; lain McLean – Albion Rovers revisited.
In August-September 2009, the group exhibition Worlds was shown at the Lillie Art Gallery, Milngavie. It was reviewed by Ray McKenzie:
……. the pleasures of the fine print; the expressive power of a well-managed composition; the aesthetic dividends paid by a fastidious attention to framing. These and many other ‘traditional’ virtues are evident in abundance in the first full-scale group show organised by Scottish Photographers under the disarmingly inclusive title: Worlds. The use of the plural is worth noting. From the spacious Skye landscapes of Alex Boyd to the dramatised sequences of intimately knotted flesh in Melanie Sims’ Small Facts, there is confirmation everywhere that good photography is not an objective recording of the world, but a construct borne of sound craftsmanship conjoined with the singularity of a private vision. Between these two extremes we have Chris Leslie’s bittersweet reminders of what was lost with the demise of ‘Paddys [sic] Market’, Stewart Shaw’s witty revelation of a consumerist Utopia that Thomas More would have struggled to recognise, Roger Farnham’s transformation of road markings into powerful semi-abstract designs and much, much more. Kate Mooney, Thomas Cooper and Keith Ingham admire Carl Radford’s wet collodian portraits. Space is limited, so not every contributor can be name-checked. But as a dyed-in-the-wool photo-historian I cannot resist recording my delight in the historical references that made me feel curiously at home: the invocation of Timothy O’Sullivan in Thomas Joshua Cooper’s stupendous triptych (Tom Cooper at the Lillie? Jings, what a scoop!); Carl Radford’s mastery of the wet collodion process; the clear acknowledgment of James Craig Annan in Harry Magee’s ravishing gravure prints of Venetian gondolas and cloud-laden skies over Glasgow. Back in the old days of independent photography people who thought they were clever used to ask ‘independent of what?’ The simple answer proposed by these photographers is: independent of each other. There was not a single presentation here that did not give me real pleasure, but all in totally different ways. Scottish Photographers, take a bow!
Exhibitors: Alex Boyd, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Caroline Douglas, Roger Farnham, Keith Ingham, Chris Leslie, Harry Magee, Douglas McBride, Carl Radford, Stewart Shaw, Melanie Sims, Hugh Walker, Vanessa Wenwiesser
A report from an Edinburgh portfolio session at Stills. Four of us met on the 27th October 2009. Roy Myers showed pictures ranging from the Middle East, to more recent ones taken in East Lothian. Keith Brame’s work consisted of a set of documentary pictures from Bosnia. These covered life both in Sarajevo and in a hill village. “Aloneness” is the provisional title for Karen Howard’s developing series depicting solitude. It will be interesting to see how this work develops. David Buchanan showed images from his Snowforms series.
NOTES 18 – Autumn 2009 Contributions included: Tina Vanderwerf – Window views; Stewart Shaw reports on Glasgow’s ‘Banksy’ as lain Maclean posts his images on the urban landscape; Roddy Simpson revisits a Thomas Annan image; Martin Reekie – Dundee shops; Iseult Timmermanns – The Multi-story project at Red Road Flats; Martin Scott-Powell – Craigmiller people; lain Walker – Homecoming – Scotland for the first time.
NOTES 19 – Winter 2009-10 Contributions included: Steve McQueen – Drawing on photography, the sketch book as camera; Elisabet Thorin – A visit to India and an encounter with X-rays leads to unexpected images; Keith Ingham – Photographs of the photographer’s mother are the introduction to a journey of self discovery; Douglas McBride – Archaeology, a remarkable body of work with a very personal sub text; Douglas Thomson – Mum’s Garden, a personal garden project dedicated to the photographer’s late mother.
In January 2010, Sandy passed the job of organiser on to Carl Radford while still publishing NOTES and SPEM, and Jamie McAteer took over the web site. Roger Farnham continued to run Inversnaid.
January 2010, from David Buchanan:
The session at Stills was enjoyable, but not well attended. There were three of us. Karen Howard and David Third were the other two. David Third showed work from two projects. One is of Glenlivet – a deserted landscape and the other of an old draper’s shop in Keith. I got several apologies for absence, so I’m encouraged to run another session in March or April.
Fife portfolio sessions are now organised by Jenni Gudgeon.
NOTES 20 – Summer 2010 Contributions included: Andy Biggs – An English River; Stefan Serowatka – Northern Grace; John Kemplay – Shop Windows; Colin Gray – In sickness and in Health; Melanie Sims – Memorandum; At Work – The Photographic Work of Jakob Jakobsson
Andy Biggs, Summer 1 Summer 2, from An English River NOTES 20 Summer 2010
In September 2010 Carl Radford ran a Paul Hill workshop at Street Level. Attendees were: Douglas McBride, Douglas Thompson, Eric Judlin, Paul & Sandy Wooton, Sandy Sharp, Carl Radford and David Buchanan.
NOTES 21 – Autumn 2010 Contributions included: Jennifer Wilcox – Glencoe Project; Maria Falconer – A Body of Dance; lain McLean – Pollok Leaves; Chris Leslie – Remembering Paddy’s Market, One Year On; Hugh Walker: Cambodia.
Maria Falconer, Unearthed, NOTES 21 Autumn 2010
In May 2011 Carl had to give up being the Organiser due to ill health. Sandy reverted to dealing with the day to day running of Scottish Photographers together with editing SPEM and NOTES.
NOTES 22 – Winter 2010-11 Contributions included: Wojtek Kutyla – In their own way, images of my grandparents; Patricia & Angus Macdonald – The Hebrides. An aerial view of a cultural landscape; Rowan Lear – This is what creates every adventure.
Eileen Fitzpatrick provides a report on a Scottish Photographers Northern ‘Cell’ Meeting Saturday 19th March 2011:
….. We’ve been doing this, twice a year or so, for nearly ten years, so something must be working. ……. Matt showed us three black and white photographs of a boardwalk and bridge over a river, and two detailed images of a filled pothole and a curbstone at the side of a rural road…… Peter had made a book of sensitively taken and well observed records of an emotional journey made in his father’s house immediately following his death. …… Alastair’s books always provide us with a sense of wonder not only at his technical ability, and sheer stamina, but also his own sense of curiosity both at the world around him and contained in images he makes further afield ….. Anne showed us….. pictures both of the changing sea and sky, and partial images of her daughter and sons ….. Keith [showed] one-off, handmade, glued down, scraped off, muted, layered, double exposure pieces [which] combine the personal with the universal….. Eileen….. show[ed] images made in Fochabers Folk Museum …. light reflecting off glass giving a multi-layered effect…. Many thanks to Matt for being our host, to Keith for making the soup, to Alastair’s wife Linda for making the Victoria sponge cake…
Notes 23 – Summer 2011 Contributions included: Alina Kisina – City of Home; David Gillanders – A Wet Plate Portrait of Scotland; Simon Nicholas White – Hidden Microcosms; Donald Stewart – Defence Structures; and, Virginia Khun – Seven Generations
Notes 24 – Autumn 2011 Contributions included: Kevin O’Brien – Making Waves; Frances Murden – Black and White Fairy Tales; Harry Magee – Three Cities. Studies in photopolymer gravure; Alicia Bruce – The Menie; Emma McGregor – Bradford; and, Keith Ingham – The Glesga that I used to know.
On 3rd December 2011, “Images Scottish Photographers” was the FOTOSPACE Gallery’s launch exhibition in Glenrothes, and Scottish Photographers third group exhibition. It was reviewed by Colin Fraser Wishart:
…. Fife Fotospace …… essentially replaces the Corridor Gallery which, curated by the tireless Peter and Aase Goldsmith, for many years offered independent photographers working in Scotland their first opportunity of mounting a personal exhibition. Distilled from work submitted in response to open invitation of the membership of Scottish Photographers, this inaugural exhibition comprises sixty-two works from twenty contributors, clearly selected with care by a panel chaired by Mary Ann Kennedy of Napier University, together with Hannah Hills and Gillian Parsons of “ON at Fife”, to attain a most coherent installation for, at first sight, the overall impression is one of quiet, contemplative, continuity. Indeed, the exhibition might well be subtitled “New Scottish Contemplatives” such is there a perceptible return to timeless values; an aesthetic of innocence only enhanced by sophistication of technique and expressive assurance. There is a complementary stillness within each sequence of images; a lack of discordance offering rhythmic continuity only rarely to be found in group exhibitions. Often, the acute capacity of photography for evoking abandonment pervades this collection in a fragmentary poetry, as may be seen in Gordon Doughty’s colour diptych of upturned boats, or evinced in the dignity and refined tonality gracing Donald Stewart’s quietly-reflective monochrome studies of the late-18th Century Olson House, Maine, in which light gives gentle presence to sparse interiors containing still the silent echo of “Christina’s World” a sanctuary first interpreted, in pencil and watercolour, by the artist Andrew Wyeth. The end wall is dominated by “Promised Land” from Marion Archibald, a subtly forceful, isolate geometry of desolation which, in its vast spare eloquence, is viewed in contradistinction to the intimate scale of most other works on display. Indeed, human presence is glimpsed only here and there, perhaps most appositely in Alex Boyd’s “4 Sonnets” in each of which an inscrutable solitary figure stands within an open vista which seemingly extends an embrace in mnemonic stillness. A gentle balance is inherent to both colour and monochrome work, only given strident punctuation by four intensely vibrant flower studies from Jenni Gudgeon closely-mounted adjacent to Carl Radford’s linear sequence of darkly-haunting portraits amongst which those of architectural photographers Trevor Yerbury and Timothy Soar, in particular, convey lasting impression. Adopting the early wet-collodion process of print-making, Carl Radford prompts expressive affinity to individual conditions of existence in a confrontational manner redolent of the more recent work of the prominent American photographer Sally Mann or, indeed, to the astonishing series of deeply-toned portraits of contemporary architects made by Soar himself which are currently on view in London. Clearly inspired by Oriental minimalism, three eloquently-textured studies from Keith Ingham entitled “As a Chinese Jar” are each gently limned in quiet contrast to Sandy Sharp’s stark encounters with his native Lanarkshire where a grim cultural dyslexia abounds in dark places of abandonment, segregated by high brick walls or barricades; an inhabitance on the edge of nowhere. It is clear that many of the photographs gain coherence from being viewed in sequence, although seen in this context, Jonathan Robertson’s accomplished and dignified portrait of “Graison in His Kuti” together with Marion Archibald’s forbidden territory, are notable exceptions. It is just this continuity, however, that shapes this coherent installation and points optimistically towards a renascence of Scottish contemporary photography which, having become lost in fashionable experimentation with the dynamic of extravagant scale, or confused in exploration of the culture of gender-politics, is now making insistent return to the fascinating stillness of the gaze.
The exhibition ran from 5th December 2011 – 11th January 2012.
Iain Sarjeant, Trees, Winter Abstracts, NOTES 25 Winter 2011-12
Notes 25 – Winter 2011-12 Contributions included: lain Sarjeant – Winter Abstracts; Roddy Simpson – Revisiting South Porch, St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall by John Forbes White; Simon Crofts – Warsaw Ballet; Angus Behm – Passing Places 2004-2007; Rosalind Dallas – Return; Arpita Shah – Ghar; and, Andrea Ingram – Slogging in Boxes and Bellows
In May 2012, portfolio sessions continued at: Rothes Halls (contact Peter Goldsmith) and at Street Level (contact Colin Gray).
Notes 26 – Summer 2012 Contributions included: Michael Thomson – At New York’s Natural History Museum; Donald Stewart – Northern Chile; Colin Gray – Nina goes shopping; James Dyas Davidson – Abandoned communities; Marc de Ridder -: Portrait of a whippet; Phil Rogers – Secret and arcane; and, Colin McLeod – Otstranenie.
James Dyas Davidson, Graffiti, NOTES 26 Summer 2012
On the 12 Aug 2012, Sandy sent us all an email:
Alas the Autumn NOTES will be my last as due to health problems I am no longer able to continue. I am looking for a new team so please spread the word. Likewise SPEM for there seems to be no great enthusiasm for it being banished to the web site. ….. Best wishes from Sandy
NOTES 27 – Autumn 2012 From Sandy:
WELCOME TO THE AUTUMN NOTES, a temporary return to a larger format, to mark the tenth year of NOTES. It will also be my last issue as editor. Annoying health problems mean that I have, reluctantly, to give up the job which has been a pleasant if vicarious creative experience for me. I hope that, unlike the demise of the Dandy, which may be disturbing some of our readers, NOTES will continue in production.
Contributions to NOTES 27: Colin MacLeod – Leisure and recreation; David Peat – The Printer’s Tale. Robert Burns’ tribute to the distinguished Scottish film maker; Simon Robinson – Botanies; Keith Ingham – If It Moves, Shoot It. If It Doesn’t Move, Shoot It Anyway; Chris Leslie – St Mary’s Seminary Cardross; Alex Boyd – Mapping the Edges of Gaeldom. Last light, Dun Briste; and, Douglas Thomson – Venice without a phone.
Simon Robinson, Ornamental Onion, from Botanies, NOTES 27 Autumn 2012