P H O T O :
S C O T T S H N A T O N A L G A L L E R Y
FESTIVAL VISUAL ART | Edinburgh Photography Rev Dr Patrick Macfarlane, by Hill and Adamson
Craigmillar kids play on Gulliver, the Gentle Giant, part of Rolls and Shutters ‘They were kick-starting a revolution of their own’
Kate Davis: Nudes Never Wear Glasses
Photography, which was presented at the Fruitmarket Gallery by the Scottish Photography Group. At a time when the only public photography galleries in the UK were the Photographer’s Gallery, London, Impressions in York and Amber/Side in Newcastle, the SPG, made up largely of photographers, was born of frustration at a lack of a permanent space for photography in Scotland’s capital. The group’s aim was to ‘promote a greater understanding of photography as an art form with a particular emphasis on the latent capacities of the medium to search into and investigate the world around us; and to encourage and assist those working in this medium, particularly in Scotland.’ Stills: The Scottish Photography Group Gallery, opened on 19 October 1977.
At that time, for photography to be actively collected by museums in the UK and elsewhere was still a relatively new pursuit. As Stills developed to include work by artists fusing photography and i lm with other art forms enabled by new technology, the National Galleries of Scotland set up its Scottish National Photographic Collection in 1984. This was established on the basis of it already holding original photographs by Hill and Adamson, taken between 1843 and 1847. With Street Level Photoworks established in Glasgow in 1989, Edinburgh had already fostered other independent initiatives, including the Candlemaker Row-based Portfolio gallery. This was set up by former Stills staff with an accompanying magazine, both of which aimed to showcase more Scottish-based photographers. Such a widening of outlets across the country gave rise to Fotofeis, a biannual Scottish international festival of photography that existed throughout the 1990s.
126 THE LIST FESTIVAL 3–10 Aug 2017
While a permanent national photography centre was mooted a decade ago, this evolved into the Institute of Photography Scotland. This partnership between NGS, Stills, Street Level, the University of Glasgow and University of St Andrews aims to support photography in Scotland through collections, exhibitions, and programming. The Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery, meanwhile, where Hill and Adamson have come to rest, opened in 2012, and is the i rst purpose-built photography space of its kind in a major museum in Scotland. Beyond this, independent projects l ourish. A major example of photography as social history as much as artwork can be found in Rolls and Shutters, a retrospective of work by Angela Catlin and John Brown from the 1970s, shown alongside a new i lm created by Stina Wirfelt. The exhibition documents some of the incident and colour from Craigmillar Festival Society, the internationally renowned community arts initiative which much of Edinburgh and Scotland’s current cultural high heid yins could learn much from. Photography in Edinburgh, it seems, is still very much in the frame.
A Perfect Chemistry: Photographs by Hill & Adamson, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, until 1 Oct, £10 (£8).
Kate Davis: Nudes Never Wear Glasses, Stills Gallery, until 8 Oct, free. Rolls and Shutters, Craigmillar Library, until 14 Aug, free.