The Origins of The Annan Lecture by Roddy Simpson

Annan Lecture Origins

The origins of the Annan Lecture go back to 2004 when SSHoP organised a lecture by Michael Russell on the German born photographer Werner Kissling (1895-1988) and especially the photographs he made in the Western Isles in the 1930s. Michael Russell is better known as a politician but is the author of two books on the life and work of Werner Kissling. The lecture was at the Hunterian Lecture Theatre at Glasgow University in October 2004 and proved very popular. 

Arising from the success of Michael Russell’s lecture, the SSHoP Committee discussed having a regular event in Glasgow. This was seen as complimenting the well-established Photographer’s Lecture which took place in Edinburgh and given by a practitioner but the Glasgow lecture was to have a different perspective and be by someone involved in photography other that a practising photographer and this could be a curator, commentator or critic. After looking at options, it was named the Annan Lecture to commemorate the Glasgow-based Annan family of photographers and particularly Thomas Annan (1829-87) and James Craig Annan (1864-1946) who were not only exceptional image makers but artistically and technically innovative. 

The inaugural Annan lecture was given by Bill Buchannan on 23 March 2006 at the Mitchell Library and appropriately the subject was ‘The Annans of Glasgow’. There have been a succession of notable speakers since and the scope has been wide-ranging and has kept evolving in ways unforeseen at the start. With the content of the lectures being published in ‘Studies’ and also, more recently, been made available electronically, the Annan Lecture is an enduring and critical contribution to wider culture of photography in Scotland. 

Roddy Simpson

image: Cover of Studies in Photography, 2005, Norma Louise Thallon, North Sea, at Carnoustie, original 20″ x 24″, from Towards The Pursuit of Naïveté (Playing in the Sand)

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