Despite all that 2020 has thrown at us, the Scottish photography community has continued showcasing some amazing projects, events and exhibitions.
Before we move into a promising 2021, here we have, in no particular order, a selection of our highlights from this year. Proving that 2020 was not all bad…
1. Elementary Blueprint, Stills Centre for Photography
A nationwide experiment that gave participants a positive and creative experience during lockdown. The staff from Stills posted out cyanotype paper to those interested, they were then instructed to leave the paper out in the elements for a two week period. The result was a massive collaboration with participants from across the UK and abroad getting involved. The experimental work was the show which reopened Stills after lockdown, running from 8th September – 24th October.
2. Alt-D | Alternative Degree Show
The alternative 2020 graduate showcase for, and by, Edinburgh College of Art students. Showcasing the work from 100 graduates from across all creative courses. Instead of being bogged down with the news that their studio time will be cut and their degree shows will not go ahead in real life, the students took matters into their own hands and created a visually explosive, strong platform for their end of year show. As well as this the Alt-D collective produced a limited edition zine to further share their projects. Check them out on Instagram & Facebook.
3. Oscar Marzaroli, Street Level Photoworks
The longest running exhibition held at Street Level, just over 12 months and with two extended dates, also a hugely popular show with visitors returning time and time again. Oscar Marzaroli is arguably Scotland’s most notable documentary photographer. His photographs and films of Glasgow from the 1950s through to the 1980s captured a period of enormous change with images of people going about their lives in the city, at work and at leisure. Additional talks, film screenings, recollections and anecdotes from those who knew Oscar were shared throughout 2020 and are archived on the Street Level website and Youtube channel.
Image © Oscar Marzaroli / The Marzaroli Collection
4. Studies for Mind Print Sale, The Scottish Society for the History of Photography
Studies for Mind was a month-long fundraising sale of photographic prints by some of Scotland’s leading photographers that raised over £10,000 for Support in Mind: a Scottish organisation providing crucial support and resources for those living with a mental health issue. The photographers included established names; Jane Brettle, Susan Derges, David Eustace, Karen Knorr, Garry Fabian Miller, Pradip Malde, and Wendy McMurdo as well as emerging talents such as Sekai Machache, Margaret Mitchell, Simon Murphy and Oana Stanciu.
Image © Oana Stanciu
5. FLOW Photofest @ 525 Gallery
Exhibiting highlights from the 2019 FLOW Photography Festival to Edinburgh’s 525 Gallery, brought to you by SSHoP. FLOW Photofest is a biennial international photography festival, held across the Highlands and Islands, which first ran through September 2017. The theme for FLOW Photofest 2019 was BORDERS – acknowledging both our shifting political and personal boundaries and also how photography is evolving as art and document. On view is work by: Michael Flomen, Sarah Riisager, Tine Poppe, Iain Sarjeant, John Farrell, Hannah Laycock and Daniel White. This exhibition has been extended until April 2021.
View the 2019 FLOW Exhibition Programme.
Image © Hannah Laycock
6. Linda McCartney Retrospective, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
A major retrospective photographic exhibition, which was curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney and featured iconic names and moments in music from the 1960s along with more intimate and emotional later work by this acclaimed and prolific photographer. Cameras used by Linda and held in her archive were also displayed along with photographic equipment and vintage magazines that have been uncovered from her expansive archive. Polaroids and contact sheets could be viewed as part of the exhibition which showcased her creativity and use of the different photographic techniques. The Retrospective featured a section dedicated to the photographs Linda took in Scotland alongside the themes of family life, self portraits, nature and social commentary.
Image: Mary, Paul and Heather, Scotland, 1970 © Paul McCartney / Photographer: Linda McCartney
7. Sekai Machache in Conversation with Matilda Williams-Kelly In Conversation, Creative Dundee
The Scottish Black Lives Matter Mural Trail was conceived by Edinburgh-based producer Wezi Mhura and includes 40 individual artworks, in over 30 sites across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Stirling and Dundee. This event saw Sekai Machache and Matilda Williams-Kelly – two of the artists exhibiting as part of the BLM Mural Trail in Dundee share more about their work, approach to this project and the wider Black Lives Matter movement. In racial attacks which attempted to silence the artists, Sekai’s work was torn down and vandalised, along with many others from the mural. Thankfully the work was replaced and the message we feel was stronger than before.
Image © Sekai Machache
8. Imagining an Island
An online exhibition of photographic work responding to the themes of Landscape, People, and Place. Imagining an Island has developed as a two-day Symposium and two accompanying exhibitions – In This Day and Age, Ecognosis, – and an Open Call exhibition. A strong group show in three parts and still very much enjoyable as an easy to navigate online exhibition.
Image © Danielle MacLeod
9. A Love Letter to Dundee: Joseph McKenzie Photographs 1964-1987, The McManus
Joseph McKenzie’s stunning black and white photographs evidence the changing fortunes of Dundee and its people. With lockdown postponing the original opening, the show is now available to view until October 2021. If you can’t make it along to the exhibition, the McManus are sharing their #McKenzieMonday posts, showing images from the exhibition with accompanying info.
Image: Joseph McKenzie © The Joseph McKenzie Archive