Tuesday 25 April 2017

Famous Photos

Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood
I have been very fortunate and privileged to photo some of the most famous names in contemporary music from the 70s and from the present day.

Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Jerry Douglas, John Mayer

Present day – Hurts, Emeli Sande, Mumford, Laura Marling, Snowpatrol, more!

Laura Marling
John Mayer
Lindsay Buckingham, Fleetwood
Elton John
Van Morrison
Emeli Sande
Paul McCartney

A New Scottish National Photography Gallery

 470 clergymen who founded the Free Church of Scotland
The Scottish National galleries are showing an exhibition of the work of Scottish photography pioneers,
Robert Adamson and David Hill – ‘Scottish Photography pioneers, A Perfect Chemistry. Fisherfolk of Newhaven,’
27th May to 1st October 2017, TE SCOTTISH PORTRAIT GALLERIES, Queen St, Edinburgh.

It has taken others overseas to recognise the work of these Scottish pioneers in photography. These two world renowned pioneers are mostly unknown in Scotland and are yet more reminders of the neglect of Scotland’s heritage.  

The Museum of Modern Art New York put on an exhibition Photography1930 – at the beginning of the show Hill and Adamson had pride of place as Photography pioneers. In 1989 The Huntarian Glasgow staged another exhibition of Hill and Adamson’s work, which came over from Saskatoon Canada, where it had been acclaimed.

The Scottish galleries hold the biggest collection of their work in the world, yet only exhibit their work every 15 years. In the 1840s Hill and Adamson were partners in the new science of Photography. Adamson portraits of clergymen documented the disruption in the Kirk with the Free church of Scotland. They worked in Rock house, Calton hill, producing portraits and also images of the Forth estuary and coast.

In the 1990s the Royal High school was considered for a new Scottish National Photography gallery  to include Annans, Gillanders, Calum Colvin and others.

**Scottish Artist David Hill 1802 – 1870), landscape painter
He formed Hill & Adamson studio with the photographer Robert Adamson
(1843 - 1847) pioneer photographer. He learned lithography at the school of Design Edinburgh. His landscape paintings exhibited Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland and he established Scottish Academy1829 with Henry Cockburn.

Pioneer Photographer Robert Adamson (1821–1848) pioneer photographer at Hill & Adamson. Best known for his work with artist David Hill at his photographic studio Rock House Calton hill. Hill and Adamson were commissioned in 1843 to make a group portrait of the 470 clergymen who founded the Free Church of Scotland. Hill had desired to make photographic portraits of the founders as reference material.

Adamson’s collaboration with Hill, who provided skill in composition and lighting, and Adamson’s dexterity with the camera, proved extremely successful. They used the calotype process, and produced a wide range of portraits depicting well-known Scots.

They photographed Fife landscapes, urban scenes, the Scott Monument under construction; 
the fishermen of Newhaven and the fishwives who carried the fish in creels the 3 miles (5 km) uphill to the city of Edinburgh to sell them round the doors, with their cry of “Caller Herrin”
They produced groundbreaking "action" photographs of soldiers and two priests walking side by side.

They produced some 3000 calotypes of mostly portraits within 5 years, 1843 – 1847.
Adamson died unmarried on 14 January 1848, at the age of 26.

In 1851, the works of Hill & Adamson's appeared at The Great Exhibition.
It wasn't until 1872 that their work was rediscovered. In 1905, 1912, and 1914, some of their works appeared in Camera Work. There were also several New York City exhibits at Alfred Stiegiltz’s 291 art gallery and at the National arts club.

Calotype or talbotype is an early Photographic process introduced in 1841 by William Henry Fox Talbot using paper
coated with silver iodide. The term calotype comes from the Greek καλός (kalos), "beautiful", and τύπος (tupos), "impression".

Friday 21 April 2017

Alice Marra tribute Chain Up the Swings

Scottish singer Alice Marra has recorded a moving tribute to the great Scottish songwriter – her dad Michael Marra, Chain Up the Swings. She performed the songs at the impressive St Andrews in the Square at Celtic Connections 2017 with the Gaels band.

I first heard Marra’s deep gravelly voice and songs at the small theatre Mugdock music festival which was perfect for his songs and I wrote then – “he paints with words.”
I was struck with the vivid escapism and stories of his songs. Michael liked to journey from American dreams and back home to Dundee in his song lyrics. He finshed with one of the best cover of Burn’s ‘Green Grow the Rashes O’. Possibly the most moving intimate concert I have ever been fortunate to be at. Wonderful.  

Marra’s daughter Alice has put together a thoughtful and tenderly collected recordings of his songs to show his unique diversity, strength and characterful stories - including the Marra favourites, such as Mother Glasgow, Frida Kahlo’s Visit to the Taybridge Bar and also including some new previously unheard songs.

An archive (of sorts) of home demos on cassette has yielded new material including the album’s opening track Soldier Boy.” Alice remembered “playing Kylie Minogue loudly in my bedroom when I was about seven years old. He was horrified. But he did say ‘one day you’ll find Joni Mitchell and everything will be OK’ and he was right.”

Alice was involved in several tribute concerts to Michael, most notably at Celtic Connections 2013. My photos here are from this concert, which was lead by Rab Noakes and was a wonderful and memorable night – and included Dougie MacLean, Eddi Raeder, John Spillane, Kris Drver and more. With the profits going to the charity Optimistic Sound, which was formed to fulfil Michael’s wish to see a Sistema Big Noise Orchestra in Dundee.

In an interview Alice said she was encouraged by Gordon MacLean at An Tobar on Mull when he said ‘you should do an album of your dad’s songs’ that it occurred to me. I didn’t really think of doing anything on my own.”

Alice went back into the songbook and discovered previously unheard material.
She collaborated with the musicians who took part in the original recordings – Michael’s brother guitarist Chris Marra, Derek Thomson and Allan McGlone. “Allan had just built a new studio so we began experimenting. There were some songs that I was sure I wanted to record, but through the suggestions of others I tried others. It wouldn’t have crossed my mind to do Mother Glasgow for example, but it worked so well.”

The emotional aspect for those making the album can’t be underestimated. The loss of a father, a brother, a close friend and an attachment to the material that needs to be treated with care, but not reverence. “Some songs stayed faithful to the recordings. Taking The Last Train Home as a 1980’s pop tune.. and we have moved away from the originals elsewhere. A Wee Home From Home is my favourite collection of songs, and my brother Matthew’s. Just genius.” 
FULL interview at the List - https://www.list.co.uk/article/88178-alice-marra-celebrates-her-fathers-legacy/

Sunday 9 April 2017

English Untruths

The English Press wrote of the death recently of the Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuiness, of his murderous acts when he was younger as an IRA leader.
Crucially they conveniently failed to mention ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1972, 26 unarmed civilians were shot at in the Bogside Derry, Northern Ireland during a peaceful protest march against internment. 15 were killed. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. The Saville Inquiry (1998)  reinvestigated for 12-years, made public  2010, concluded that the killings were “unjustifiable". It found that all of those shot were unarmed, that none were posing a serious threat, that no bombs were thrown, and that soldiers "knowingly put forward false accounts" to justify their firing. British PM David Cameron then made a formal apology on behalf of the UK. 

They also conveniently failed to mention English criminally corralling women and children for murder during the Boer war, where they starved to death, in the first extermination camps.
They also failed to mention the hanging of the Irish leaders of the Easter Rising or of sending tanks into spectators at a football match in Dublin.

In Ireland, India and elsewhere England created divisions with their ‘Divide and Rule tactic. They sent over Scots who stole land in the North of Ireland. In any conflict there is usually two sides that are unable to find common ground or communicate.

Scotland also took part in the slave trade (Tom Devine, Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past , The Caribbean Connections 2015). In Scotland we try to acknowledge our part and attempt to recognise our very weaknesses.

We cannot build a fair, or equal society built on Lies.  In any conflict there are usually two sides that are unable to find common ground or communicate

Sinn Fein Martin McGuinness helped bring about the Good Friday peace agreement in 1998 - with Unionist Ian Paisley 'the chuckle brothers'. He was involved with the IRA. My parents are from Northern Ireland and I remember visiting there when the helicopters were circling overhead and there were many barricades. Who wants hard borders again? I won't condone the terrors of the Troubles but there were dreadful murders by the English in Ireland too.

Those in England today appear to care nothing of what Brexit means for Ireland or for Scotland. In fact they care more about Brexit than they do about the UK breaking up, according to polls! Time to take control away from the centre (London) and return it to the people!

Scottish Artist Joan Ardley

Exhibitor Museum of Modern art Edinburgh

Ardley developed a special understanding of children in poverty in Townhead tenement streets of Glasgow.  
She built up her images with layers of colour – in oils, watercolour and pastels.  Later she lived in a cottage in Catterline – on the east coast south of Aberdeen..  Some of her later images display more depth. 

An exhibition worth visiting.

One of the pre-eminent British artists of the 20th Century”
The Times 
Joan Eardley’s career lasted barely fifteen years: she died in 1963, aged just forty-two. During that time she concentrated on two very different themes: the extraordinarily candid paintings of children in the Townhead area of Glasgow; and paintings of the fishing village of Catterline, just south of Aberdeen, with its leaden skies and wild sea. These two contrasting strands are the focus of this exhibition, which looks in detail at her working process. It draws on a remarkable archive of sketches and photographs which remains largely unknown and unpublished.
The exhibition also features many loans from public and private collections, allowing the viewer to trace specific developments between the photographs, the drawings and the finished paintings.
Image: Joan Eardley, Children and Chalked Wall 2,  1963
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal © Estate of Joan Eardley. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2016