A Detailed Chronology of Scottish Photographers
2012 – 2020
David Buchanan took over SPEM, producing his first edition in September 2012. (Somewhat ironically, in view of recent developments in Inverness, SPEM included: As Inverness College has now gone fully digital Matt Sillars has 3 LPL 6700 colour enlargers (great for B+W with dial in filters) to GIVE AWAY.) He also restarted the Edinburgh portfolio sessions at the end of October.
On the 8th of December 2012, the Northern Cell met in Dingwall. Amongst those attending and showing work: Eileen Fitzpatrick had three books ….. The earliest was made using re-photographed family images…. Her latest was [made] at the Aquarium with photographs taken through the glass tanks where light reflects on the fish. Layering, natural distortion, and the refractions which diffuse the mainly blues and greens have resulted in unexpected beauty and pathos. ….. Keith Price showed … prints which demonstrated his …… interest in experimenting with the border of an image … followed by a set of large format 10×8 pinhole contact prints…. very detailed, printed on warmtone paper, and selenium toned. Gary Williamson … showed the group a small selection of his aerial images which he takes from a paramotor ( a powered paraglider). …. Lucy Telford showed prints from a series titled ‘Flight’. … the images are camera-less photograms ….. The loose concept … is to do with ideas of freedom, escape and how we assimilate childhood dreams of the impossible. Prints from this series will form part of an exhibition in Edinburgh next Spring. Alastair Cochrane had two books – one ….. of 2011 images and the other photographs found in old albums from early 20th century Canada. He also produced … darkroom prints from over 20 years ago
Edinburgh Portfolio Session 15 January 2012. Keith Brame and Graham Barnes both showed pictures from the Outer Hebrides, and David Buchanan showed initial work in his Truncated series.
Edinburgh Portfolio Session 26 March 2013. Ian Watson showed us work from his Dreich series in which he captures Scottish mist – a very elusive subject. Ian will be exhibiting Dreich at FOTOSPACE in August. Graham Barnes showed some black and white prints. Karen Howard had some colour prints. These included her usual enigmatic abstracts and a Martin Parr-like cityscape. David Buchanan showed recent additions to his Snowforms series.
SPEM became Contact Sheet for its May 2013 edition.
In May 2013, Alex Boyd took on the responsibility for NOTES. He envisaged something much grander with a new name. Eventually in December 2013 Solas – New Photography in Scotland was launched at Street Level in Glasgow. It had a glossy A4 format, and contained some excellent material. Unfortunately, it was beset with various problems, not least print quality, and no further editions were published.
From Sandy Sharp:
We have received the sad news of the death in September 2013, at the age of 86, of Stan Dodd. Regular attenders of the Scottish Photographers Inversnaid weekends will fondly remember Stan who, despite his considerable challenges, was a congenial companion with a pawky sense of humour and always ready to surprise the company with his presentations. It was due to the generosity of Stan, together with Linda and Andre, that Scottish Photographers was able over many years to offer free places to two students of photography. In addition to this there were other times when members of Scottish Photographers had reason to be grateful for his kindness.
Sometime in 2014 the Scottish Photographers website was taken down with the intention of creating a new one with a different domain name. The replacement website never came online.
In April 2014 Alex Boyd indicated that due to pressures of other work, he would have to de-commit from Scottish Photographers.
During summer and autumn of 2014 various meetings were held to discuss the future of Scottish Photographers. However, in essence it was reduced to the very active Northern Cell, a Fife and Tayside group hosted by Alan and Sheila Borthwick, occasional meetings of the Edinburgh and Glasgow sections and Contact Sheet.
‘Northern Cell’ Meet-Up, Summer 2014.
The northernmost members of Scottish Photographers met up in July in Inverness at Matt Sillars’ house for one of their quarterly sessions.
From John Ferguson: The pond takes something overlooked creating something strangely beautiful with a slight touch of mystery.
From Mike Tibbs: “Mondrianics – 5 prints loosely in the style of Piet Mondrian.
From Alastair Cochrane: Gehry Reconstructed
From Keith Price: Eight A3 images, landscape and objects in the landscape.
From Iain Sarjeant: My latest book The Pool.
From Lucy Telford: One colour medium format pinhole image from my series ‘The Inner Shore’ and from my ‘I Am Not Myself’ series a sunprint of a negative of myself washed in seawater and left to dry in the sun.
Alan Borthwick reports on a FIFE & TAYSIDE Portfolio Meeting in October 2014:
Alan Hillier showed prints from his time as editor of Aberystwyth Uni newspaper c 1970. Julie Close showed her montages. Robert Walker had images of the lead up to the last Kinross Show at Kinross House. David Ogden took us round his micro photographic equipment involving LED torches and had fascinating images of ants and midges, Jenni Gudgeon gave us a talk on her Scolawi project with some of her emulsion scraping images. Margaret Kay had a selection of images taken from above. Aase had a book of unusual signs and Peter had a book of pics taken on his recent ebay purchase of a vintage Paxette camera. They also had a documentary of Levenglen Estate. Finally, Sheila had some pics of Largoward in Fife, a singularly unphotogenic place but on that day had some great light to lift the mundane.
Alan Borthwick reports on the FIFE & TAYSIDE Portfolio Meeting in February 2015:
An interesting selection of prints and books were shown, Jim Mailer and Peter Goldsmith are making their own and Alan Paterson, a new face had a great Blurb book “The Pool”. Really well presented and Sheila found her Blurb book ” The Magic of Polaroid” being circulated. Jim’s books are retrospective images going back to the 1970’s. Phil had interesting images of mossy glass, Alan Hillyer showed some images of a very windy Tentsmuir beach, Aase Goldsmith had a book of her home street and a selection of her signature still life creations. I had a series of images of Mersea Island on the Essex Marshes. Our welcome visitor was Malcolm Thomson who does tuition a Dundee Contemporary Arts. He had a lifetime as a professional photographer but his personal work is always inspirational. Not now enjoying the best of health, he still gets out with his SL66 Rollei but has reluctantly given up on his 5 x 4,
In March 2015 there was an Edinburgh Portfolio Meeting at Stills. We were a select group of three. Douglas May: Manuel de Falla was Spain’s pre eminent 20th Century composer. Yet in his personal life he lived with his sister, in a spartan house surrounded by religious artefacts and works of art. My photographs explore the disconnect between his music and the way he lived.
I was in the centre of Paris the day before the Charlie Hebdo shootings. On hearing the news I was so shocked just like many! I was living in Lille at the time. On the Saturday following I heard clapping in the next street. As we all do, I carry a camera always? I joined a communal outpouring of feelings about the terrible events; recording what transpired. Bringing a camera to the eye is a way of dealing with the world that allows one to disconnect but at the same time take part in experience with a heightened sense of purpose. I made a little book of the resulting pictures that I distributed among friends.JE SUIS CHARLIE
The motivation behind my series Truncated was the thought that in trees which have been cut down (or damaged by nature) there is a beauty that remains (or has been created) and a sense of the beauty that has been lost.
Alan Borthwick reports on a Perth meeting in April 2015:
Steve Evans came along with a range of photobooks covering street photography, abandoned buildings, candids of cigarette smokers and much more, all very thought provoking. Sabrina Willekens showed a photobook in Mono of a visit to New York, not the usual tourist shots, well thought out and produced. Margaret Kay had pics from a visit to Lofoten Islands. Jim Mailer had a book of his rock textures at Ardross Beach and others in Fife. Sheila has been documenting Mersea Island from some recent visits and showed some of her ongoing project. I showed the start of my project on pics of photographers and mobile phone users…
In July 2015 Matt Sillars started a FaceBook ‘group’ called North Photography Contact Notes to cover the North and the Islands in an effort to stimulate interest in independent photography. It will provide links to shows, talks and other things associated with independent work.
In September 2015 Nina Bacos, the initiator of TalkSeePhotography (which runs at CCA in Glasgow every second Monday of the month) expressed an interest in relaunching NOTES.
About this time, Stewart Shaw painstakingly digitised all of the Scottish Photographers printed publications from 2002 up to NOTES 27 – Autumn 2012.
Sadly, the well respected photographer Aase Goldsmith, a very active member of the Fife and Tayside group died on 28th September 2015. A very memorable retrospective “Never Go Forwards Without First Looking Back” was held in FOTOSPACE in Glenrothes in April 2017 and subsequently at Lochgelly Theatre.
Matt Sillars describes a meeting of the Northern Group in May 2016:
We had 12 people presenting work at the last meeting – an eclectic mix of Bromoil, cross-processing, digital on screen and ink jet, with work stretching from conceptual to journalistic.
In July 2016 Nina Bacos reported: Ben Rush, Melanie Letore, Marco Scerri and myself are working hard on the NOTES issue and have high hopes it will be out of our “heids” and into the world mid fall. And indeed, the new NOTES had its launch at the November meeting of TalkSeePhotography, and filled the CCA Cinema to the brim.
In December 2016 from Matt Sillars:
We closed off 2016 with one of the best portfolio meetings we can remember. Inspiring talks and work from a range of old and new members of the group were presented with passion and verve. We were shown documentary work from the west coast, by Adrian Hollister, the art of the ‘sandwich’ prints by the inimitable Keith Price, minimalist and deconstructed landscapes by Roddy McKenzie, recently exhibited work by Paul Campbell exploring the contrails of passing airliners and social documentary images by Eileen Fitzpatrick, to name but a few… It was busy session.
We also had a presentation by Iain Serjeant on his blog “Another Place” which showcases landscape work by photographers both international and local. Iain has recently begun publishing small books of selected work from the blog in limited edition volumes.
Finally, congratulations to Alastair Cochrane, who has recently achieved his Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.
In January 2017, Douglas Thompson announced the recommencement of Glasgow based Scottish Photographers Portfolio Meetings, at Street Level.
Matt Sillars reported on the February 2017 meeting of the Northern group:
13 people attended showing a range of work both finished and in progress from traditional prints to screen based images. The session is split around a casual lunch, much enjoyed.
Douglas Thompson reports on the April 2017 meeting of the Glasgow group:
We reviewed a diverse range of photographic projects. Michael Thomson presented his ‘Indyref 1’ project, a perspective on Glasgow’s engagement in the political ‘Yes/No’ debate as portrayed in street posters, slogans and graffiti. Roger Farnham showed a number of variations of an unfinished photogravure from ca 1998 ……. Douglas Thompson presented a project based on the life, death and memorial of a relative, James Forrester, who died at the Battle of Arras on 24th April, 1917, exactly 100 years to the day, or more poignantly, to the night.
Matt Sillars reports on the May 2017 meeting of the Northern group:
We had a grand day in Inverness on the 6th May with 13 people showing a range of work from digital scans to bromoil prints.
Douglas Thompson reports on the June 2017 meeting of the Glasgow group:
Michael Thomson presented his ‘Sleeping Rough’ project, a series of photographs avoiding the voyeuristic aspects of photographing homeless people. Instead he focused on the transient evidence of their plight in a variety of city and country locations. Carl Radford brought a collection of wet-plate collodion images made at Kirkstone Quarry in the Lake District. Douglas Thompson presented a range of infrared and panoramic landscape work.
And on the August 2017 meeting: Keith Ingham brought along his most recent book, ‘Other Echoes’ a series of details from a tour based in Tokyo and Kyoto just weeks before the catastrophic tsunami and the nuclear consequences at Fukushima on 11th March 2011. David Buchanan brought along his new book, ‘Snowforms’. Robert Burns showed a collection of exquisite monochrome studio portraits, including a portrait of Bernard Maclaverty whose novel “Midwinter Break” had just been published. Douglas Thompson presented a series on Icelandic geology. He also showed his book based on a collection of platinum prints telling the story of his great uncle who died at the WW1 battle of Arras, in April 1917.
The Northern group continues to hold lively meetings four times a year, but sadly, no record is made. Probably, because they are too busy with …….
In September 2017, Matt, together with members of the Northern group and others, organised the first FLOW Photofest. Centred on Inverness it covered locations across the north of Scotland.
This was a remarkable achievement, including work by: RAGNAR AXELSSON, SIGGA ELLA, KIERAN DODDS, ANDREA GJESTVANG, IIU SUSIRAJA, ROBIN GILLANDERS, TOM KIDD ,EVIJA LAIVINA , COLIN MCPHERSON, MAT HAY, work from the ANDREW PATERSON COLLECTION, ROSS GILMORE, the ST ANDREWS SPECIAL COLLECTION – 175 YEARS OF SCOTTISH PHOTOGRAPHY, MARY OVERMEER,TONJE BØE BIRKELAND – BERTHA BOLLETE BOYD, NICKY BIRD, JEREMY SUTTON-HIBBERT, ALEX BOYD, CHRIS FRIEL, KEVIN PERCIVAL and DOMINIQUE GAIS.
In addition to these exhibitions, there were: films, talks & discussions and Portfolio Reviews at Eden Court; Workshops at the Highland Print Studio, Inverness, and at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery; and, an Open Competition on the festival theme of PEOPLE & PLACE. The best photographs were exhibited in Inverness during the Festival. Plus several smaller associated smaller exhibitions.
In October 2017, the Glasgow group met. Donna-Maria Kelly brought along a collection of delicately toned black and white images of carnivorous plants held at the Kibble Palace, Glasgow’s botanic gardens. Robert Burns presented several keenly observed images from a recent visit to Kiev. Keith Ingham showed a retro styled book, ‘Shake It Photo’. David Buchanan presented two books of the Faroe Islands. Michael Thomson showed images from a current project related to Scotland’s east and west coasts. Douglas Thompson presented a range of Platinum/palladium prints of Scottish landscapes.
December 2017 saw the launch of the FLOW Photofest Wall at Eden Court Theatre, Inverness with the exhibition “Postcards from an Imagining” by John Ferguson. Following the highly successful festival, the FLOW Photofest Wall hosts a continuing series of exhibitions showcasing work from local artists as well as photographers across Scotland and further afield.
Reporting on a meeting of Glasgow group in January 2018, Douglas Thompson notes:
We reviewed the work of three photographers. David Buchanan brought along his latest book, ‘A Walk’, depicting a route along the ridge separating Glen Feshie and Glen Einich, starting at dawn and finishing in darkness influenced by the work of Hamish Fulton. Iain McLean presented an on-going development of his ‘Duplicis Series’ and a contrasting commercial project based on the people behind the construction of the new St. Vincent Plaza building in Glasgow. Douglas Thompson brought along a series of toned monochrome landscapes and a book, ‘Faroe 62° North’, images from a recent trip to the Faroe Islands.
Around this time Matt Sillars announced that Eileen Fitzpatrick, who has jointly organised the Northern Meetings of Scottish Photographers with Matt Sillars, is retiring from the group. Eileen is a founder member of Scottish Photographers and has been a stalwart supporter of the portfolio sessions – believing firmly that independent photographers need a space to show work in progress and to bounce ideas and projects around with others. The eclectic mix of photographers in the Northern Group demonstrates her wish to bring together people from all walks of life who share a common mode of expression.
Her experience and knowledge, armed with her Masters in Documentary Photography and working history with Creative Camera, proved invaluable in the early years of the group – which met in her kitchen in Findhorn – and her understanding of how to run and organise portfolio days has its lasting influence in the current sessions – they are deeply convivial, always challenging, refreshing and inspirational events.
Everyone in the Northern Cell wishes her all the best for the future and thanks her for her commitment and contribution to our successes over the years.
Douglas Thompson reports on the March 2018 meeting of the Glasgow group:
Stewart Shaw brought along his recent book – ‘Glasgow on Instagram’, a series of keenly observed black and white cityscapes. This series of images was influenced by the process of 6” x 4” print sharing under taken many years ago by Sandy Sharp and now re-interpreted on as an attractive small scale Blurb book of recently taken photographs. Sarah Mackay brought along her book, ‘Parks in Glasgow’. Michael Thomson has further developed his extensive project, ‘Clyde Estuary – The River Clyde and its docks and shipyards from Broomilaw to Gourock’ David Buchanan has further pursued his ‘Snowforms’ series with a range of exquisite minimalist images of drifting snow and hoarfrost taken in the Lammermuir Hills, France and Norway.
Stewart Shaw reports on the May 2018 meeting of the Glasgow group:
Keith Ingham showed his latest book Along the Road, images from nocturnal journeys in west Glasgow. Stewart Shaw reached back to 1969/70 with a small Blurb book of portraits and candid shots of his early working life in a Dundee office.
Douglas Thompson reports on the July 2018 meeting of the Glasgow group:
David Buchanan brought along ‘Quarries’, his latest book. Douglas Thompson presented a series of prints of north Skye demonstrating that tranquil Skye still exists, even at the height of the tourist season.
Stewart Shaw reports on the Glasgow group in September 2018:
Ian McLean has been recording the progress of Scottish League 2 football team, Albion Rovers, for a number of years. David Dickie presented an ongoing project to document his home town of Irvine. Mike Thomson showed a Becher style collection of flattened drinks cans. Ross Samson brought a series of portraits of European nationals living in the south of Glasgow which was recently exhibited at the Southside Fringe. Ross also showed images of arborglyphs – carving or graffiti on living trees, a series on abandoned shopping trolleys and an idea in development for photograph/text juxtapositions on a single sheet.
Douglas Thompson reports on the Glasgow group meeting in November 2018:
Images from Berlin by Hugh Walker were presented in striking ‘film noir’ contrast… Ross Samson showed a self-published book of ‘Some Scottish Snaps’ and a project structured around the Glasgow Pipe Band championships. Michael Thomson presented a recent exploration of Cabrach, Aberdeenshire, the area he grew up in. Douglas Thompson brought along a collection of recent infrared landscape work taken in North Yorkshire
In January 2019 the super-active Northern Cell (especially Matt Sillars and Rachel Fermi) unveiled THE INVERNESS DARKROOM. This is a community black and white darkroom at WASPS Creative Academy in the centre of Inverness. The darkroom has 9 enlarger bays – Durst, LPL and De Vere – from 35mm to medium and large format. Timers, masking frames, focus scopes, processing trays etc. are all provided. There are three large sinks for processing and print washing in the main darkroom and a separate room for film development.
Douglas Thompson reports on the Glasgow group meeting in January 2019:
Michael Thomson continues his exploration of the Cabrach. Ross Samson returned to his project on discarded urban shopping trolleys. Douglas Thompson brought along a collection of recent platinum/palladium landscape prints.
Douglas Thompson reports on the Glasgow group meeting in March 2019:
Michael Thomson extends his on-going project to document the changing face of the Clyde estuary. Hugh Walker has been working to establish a regular Instagram feed, @hughwalkerphotography and has also focused on aspects of the River Clyde all be it with very different results. Keith Ingham revisited a football based project begun in 1982. Dave Dickie presented an ongoing, thought provoking project from his native Irvine.
Stewart Shaw reports on the Glasgow group meeting in May 2019.
Iain McLean brought along a book of his documentary photographs of Albion Rovers, and we were also treated to a preview of his next volume in the series. Some of these pictures will feature in an exhibition at Summerlee Museum (Coatbridge). Robert Burns showed two contrasting monochrome images taken in Kiev underground, and some of his portraits of prominent Glasgow west-end residents plus an affectionate one of his guitarist son. Paul and Sandy Wotton brought work made in Wester Ross. Paul brought monochrome images of Inverewe House and Gardens and of an abandoned cottage. Sandy, working in colour, presented some of her hand-made books combining words and images, and featuring coastal landscapes and trees. Ross Samson explored trees through minimal depth of field and atmospheric natural light effects in woodland close-ups. David Buchanan brought along two of his books; a monochrome one on quarries and a colour one of Easdale Island.
Douglas Thompson reports on the Glasgow group meeting in July 2019:
Michael Thomson further extends his project to document the Cabrach Trust Estate in Aberdeenshire. Paul Wotton brought along two black and white triptychs from Wester Ross, each exploring mindfulness. Nick Wylie has been exploring platinum/palladium prints and cyanotypes some of which have been further stained. Ross Sampson has became increasingly aware of lost and abandoned gloves perched on tree branches and elsewhere. Iain Mclean talked about his current ‘A Game of Two Halves’ exhibition at Summerlee industrial Museum at Coatbridge. Sandy Wotton also brought along two books, one of carefully considered photographs of the Falkirk Kelpies and the other explores the past and present of Sheffield. Douglas Thompson brought infrared landscapes taken on the Cullin mountains of Skye and on the Kintail Estates.
Building on the success of the 2017 festival, the FLOW Photofest team (which consists mainly of members of the Northern Cell) put on FLOW Photofest 2019, establishing it as a biennial event. With a theme of BORDERS, the month long festival again showcased both international and Scottish photography across the North of Scotland. This year the festival mounted the following exhibitions: Jeff J. Mitchell, Days of Night – Nights of Day – Elena Chernyshova, Karczeby – Adam Pańczuk, City Under One Roof – Jen Kinney, Exit Wonderland – Tine Poppe, Frozen – Sarah Riisager, St Kilda – Beka Globe, Traces and Edges – John Farrell, Tales of the Unearthly – Daniel White, Michael Flomen, Waiting – Jana Romanova, Perceiving Identity – Hannah Laycock, Open Competition exhibition, Document Scotland, Impossible Colonies – Kotryna Ula Kiliulyte, Undersong – Linda Lashford, Sexy Peat – Kacper Kowalski, Out of the Ordinary – Iain Sarjeant, Isle – Paul Glazier, Quarries – Post-industrial Sublime – David Buchanan.
Douglas Thompson reports on the Glasgow group meeting in September 2019:
This was an opportunity to congratulate group participants who had work accepted for the Street Level Photoworks Open exhibition; including both Paul and Sandy Wotton, Keith Ingham, Michael Thomson and Iain McLean. Hugh Walker brought along a range of fine silk scarves which incorporate photographic images.
Roger Farnham showed work which utilised a copy based process devised by the Scottish inventor James Watt. Paul Wotton’s black and white images examined the meditative nature of abstract patterns in moving water as a flowing stream entered the sea. Taking inspiration from T. S. Elliot, Keith Ingham explored ‘The Awareness of Pastness’ using a polaroid style phone app to make images of significant objects he associates from different times in his life. Sandy Wotton brought a fold out book of colour images depicting reflections and floating objects on water courses, each infused by changing patterns of light. Ross Samson has been working on the documentation of projects with volunteer groups in his community. David Buchanan currently has an exhibition of his ‘Quarries’ project as part of FLOW Photofest 2019 (in Thurso). The work consists of colour and monochrome images from slate and limestone quarries at Easdale, Ballachulish, Little Langdale and Bibemus.
Douglas Thompson reports on the Glasgow group meeting in November 2019:
Sandy Wotton brought along a beautiful panel of five prints from recent work on Harris. She skilfully linked the soft colour palette of the island’s landscape to the colours being hand woven in the production of Harris tweed. Ross Samson has undertaken a project to photographically portray the subject of mental health. He has a working title, ’Mind the Gap’. John Perivolaris presented some work from a project depicting a local Glasgow character and painter, Frankie Robertson. Robert Burns brought along a range of very fine prints made in a wide variety of alternative processes. John Shanks showed a selection of his architectural work and in contrast, recent abstract work. Paul Wotton presented some black and white prints made on the Isle of Harris, drawing on long established traditional aspects of island life set along side emerging new businesses. David Buchanan presented his book, ‘Loch Ghiubhsachan Outflow’. The images have an abstract quality depicting the gentle flow at the loch outlet. Douglas Thompson brought along salt prints made at a recent Street Level Photoworks masterclass lead by Lithuanian photographer and printer Gintautas Trimakas, and also a range of woodland landscape platinum/palladium images.
As I write this we are beset by the Covid-19 pandemic, so all Scottish Photographer meetings have been abandoned. However, I’m sure after this period of forced isolation, we will get together again.
“To cultivate and enjoy the creativity of photographers with an independent outlook”
cover image: Michael Thomson, untitled, from his project, “Clyde Estuary – The River Clyde and its docks and shipyards from Broomilaw to Gourock”, ©the artist