Friday, 30 April 2021

BIO photography 2021

Transatlantic Sessions

Music is our first and last memory. It’s the most interconnected and emotional of all the arts. I came across the strong impact of live music on the folk scene in Scotland and Edinburgh - with those soaring fiddles, strumming guitars and banjos, the beats and rhythms of the bohran. The immediate energy, the collective voice and instinctive collaborations; the power of the moving ballad, sung by a plaintive female singer; or the emotion and memories of a traditional ballad.



Many of the greatest songwriters start of by singing the history and past times of the traditional folk ballads and tunes –notably Bob Dylan and Robert Burns being two.

 

I’ve long held a passion for the visual image. I enjoyed sketching with those varying thickness of pencils: from the softest 5B to the hard edges of 5H pencils, or with charcoal or water paints and ink. I took art at school and I played piano too. I explored portraits, still life and the sense of lost horizons.

 




I began shooting music photography in 2007. I discovered that a good image is mostly about having a good eye, while good technique and equipment helps. I shot mostly at small venues and festivals, and received positive feedback and commissions. 

Paul McCartney Hampden
Snow Patrol Bellahouston
Van Morrison


Some highlight concerts: Michael Marra Mugdock theatre: Elton John SECC; Van Morrison Concert hall; Fleetwood Mac SECC; Bob Dylan Braehead arena; Paul Simon Clyde Auditorium; Del Amitri Hydro; Paul McCartney Hampden; Nicola Benedetti Concert hall; Snow Patrol Bellahouston; Nile Rodgers at Edinburgh book festival Unbound;

  

At Milngavie Folk Club: (2012 – 2018) often had an amazing line up of top Scots folk artists. Dick Gaughan, Dougie MacLean, Rab Noakes, Barbara Dickson, Cara Dillon,Karine Polwart, Kris Drever, Blue Rose Code,

And every August I took photos at the Edinburgh festivals.






And each January at Celtic Connections festival (2008 – 2020) Transatlantic Sessions, Grit orchestra, Capercaillie, Richard Thompson, the Chieftains, Punch Brothers, Julie Fowlis, Eddi Reader, Aly Bain, Jerry Douglas, Kris Drver, Karine Polwart, Tim O’Brien, Martin Carthy, Russ Barenberg; Blazin Fiddles; Lau, Rosanne Cash, Ross Wilson, Martha Wainwright, and many more.

 

Dick Gaughan & Karine Polwart
Eddie Reader

Sandy Bells bar Edinburgh

I’ve taken images at Edinburgh International Book festival from 2010 – 2019, Charlotte Square Edinburgh Scotland. 

This festival is one of the first and biggest book festival begun in 1983. Many famous faces, authors, artists, scientists, musicians, politicians, 

At first its strange meeting very well known faces – Seamus Heaney, Neil Gaiman, Edna O’Brien, Alexander MacColl Smith, Carol Joyce Oats, Ruth Rendall, Alan Cumming, Brian Cox, John Byrne, 

 

 

I have a large archive of images on my photo website - https://pkimage.co.uk

 

John Byrne

Alexander Macoll Smith

Alan Bissett

Jackie Kay

Ian Rankin

Iain Banks & Alex Salmond

Seamus Heaney
Nicola Benedetti

Elotn John SECC

Centenary Northern Ireland: Old black & white photo

 


In April it will be the first centenary of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland consists of the six counties - 

County Down, County Armagh, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, County Tyrone.

While the rest of Ireland is the Free State of 26 counties. 

 

Northern Ireland did have a Protestant majority, as there is now a balance equally between Catholic and Protestant. My parents were Ulster unionists and I grew up over in Edinburgh Scotland and visited Ireland in the summers growing up. I have mixed views and during the Brexit debates I couldn’t believe that the English debates never gave any thought to what on earth might happen in Ireland. So much time and effort went into establishing peace with the Good Friday agreement. So much wasted time on this ill-advised Brexit. 

 

I remember the nightly news during the Troubles of bombings, murders or knee cappings. I felt angry that Brexiteers gave no thought to these issues. The troubles began with peaceful protests by Catholics of decent housing. Especially as I still have no understanding of why or what Brexit is about – except saving the Tory party and avoiding the new EU regulations for tax avoiders. Or was it about saving Englanders view of themselves. 

 In 1921 the first Prime minster of Northern Ireland Stormont assembly was Viscount Craig

 

**The Captain of his Football team

Recently I discovered an old black and white photo of my fathers’ father – my granddad – who was captain of his Irish football team. And also a letter from my father to my son dated 1986, when he wrote this treasured photo was from 75 years ago. This photo was taken in 1911– 100 years ago. He played football for the Ards team and won caps by playing for the Ireland team.


 

I realised then this photo was before partition and before the Troubles that followed. 

I remember visiting Northern Ireland when there were long road blocks and helicopters hovering over head. Scary times. 

 

Northern Ireland is divided into six counties, namely: 

County Down, County Armagh, County Fermanagh, County Londonderry, County Tyrone.

Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone.

As well as "Ireland", "Éire" or "the Republic of Ireland", the state is also referred to as "the Republic", "Southern Ireland" or "the South". In an Irish republican context it is often referred to as "the Free State" or "the 26 Counties".

 

 Ireland / Eire

also known as the Republic of Ireland (Poblacht na hÉireann), is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, which is located on the eastern side of the island. Around 40% of the country's population of 4.9 million people resides in the Greater Dublin Area.The sovereign state shares its only land border with Northern Irelandwhich is part of the United Kingdom.



**Northern Ireland Centenary 

Its the centenary for Northern Ireland in May, so it’s a time to reflect and consider the benefits and drawbacks. When Northern Ireland was set up the Protestants has a clear majority there, but not anymore. So the loyalist community feel under threat and not protected by the British empire as they once did.

 

There is existential crisis going on across the British Isles - in Scotland and in Northern Ireland is under strain and something has to give. The loyalists there feel more British than many in London, but find themselves cut off from the mainland by Boris Johnson, false lies and his Northern Ireland protocol erecting a border Irish Sea.

 

The hard Brexit has caused so many problems – for Ireland, for fishing, for farmers, for exports, for immigration and for Scotland. Brexit is a disaster for Scotland – loss of immigration, 40% loss of trade. For businesses in Northern Ireland, its cheaper and easier to deal directly with the EU deliveries, so many are going to consider what’s the point of the present situation. Trying to bring Catholics and Protestant children together in schools worked when we were all in the level playing fields of the EU single market.

 

The only solution that I can realistically see, is a return to the EU single market – that Scotland has been pushing for. Since 2016, this ill advised Brexit has been a disaster – who actually benefits from it? So far I’ve found no answer to this question (except those with offshore tax funds) If Brexit is about English Nationalism, then its time for English independence – and its well past time for a new constitution.

 

The Loyalists feel let down by all sides. and ignored in all this. The Tories try to claim this is all about the EU being too strict over the border. The trouble is the British empire no longer exists. The problems Northern Ireland are not only sectarian, they run very deep. Protestants in Northern Ireland feel more British than  many in London and fly union jacks constantly. Its an existential crisis made much worse by this ill advised Brexit. Those in London never considered the dramatic effect Brexit would have on Ireland or Scotland. Brexit makes a united Ireland more likely for instance, for both trade and business reasons.

 

Today, in Germany children are taught over and over how easily evil dictatorship can take over, to protect and ensure this is never repeated. However Boris is on a mission to reclaim the glories of Rule Britannia on the ocean. But this past is well and truly gone: most of the empire are now independent nations

 

Story Northern Ireland
Several Gaelic kingdoms, 16th century Ulster most resistant to English control (1596 – 1603)

Ulster Irish lords, after defeat fled to Europe. Lands confiscated crown and colonized by British Ulster Protestants, the War of Three Kingdoms ended English Parliament.

 

Conquest ensured Anglican Protestant rule. 

Williamnite – Jacobite war 1688-90 – Siege Derry, Battle of the Boyne. 

Scots migrated Ulster due to Scots famine. There was Institutional discrimination with Penal laws to disadvantage Catholics and Presbyterianism. 

 

250K Ulster Presbyterians emigrated to America and now there is 27m Scotch-Irish Americans and Scotch-Irish Canadians.

 18th century there was secret militant socialites.

1801 – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed and governed from London. Pushed for 2 kingdoms to merge to quell sectarianism, remove discriminatory laws and prevent spread of French republicanism, and reform for democracy.

 

Late 19th century, Irish nationalists MPs, Westminster committed the liberal party, to Irish home rule, first bill defeated, third home rule introduced, suspended by first world war. Conservatives opposed and threatened violence – 1914 weapons smuggled from Germany: By UVF to oppose Rome rule for Ireland. 

 

Easter Rising 1916 – full independence rather than home rule. Irish Convention 1917-18

British Lloyd George proposed Home rule.

Fourth home rule to divide Ireland passed May 1921.

26 counties Dublin/ 6 countries Belfast

 

Scotland and Flanders

 

“Scots as the Bulwark of the Republic.”

Scotland has long historic ties over to the Netherlands through trade, travel and settlement. 

Scotland’s ties to Flanders – there were many Flemish settlements in upper Clydesdale, Biggar: Scots travelled over to Bruges, in Flanders 14th century for trade in textiles, wool. They travelled from Berwick upon Tweed to Bruges. 

 

Song – “Will ye go to Flanders”

 

Scotland’s language is littered with Flemish words – “hoose, scones, tennis balls, malt men,”

And Flemish names – Graham, Douglas, Brenner, Murray.

 


Scots went to Bruges mercantile hub for shopping – Scottish square – where they sold

tapestries, velvet cloaks, jewellery, guns, weapons, luxury goods, fashion, metals. In Bruge there is the Scottish square, and the Chapel St Andrews Bruges

They held great Burgundy tournaments, feasts and pageants – when men wore elaborate black velvet cloaks trimmed with fur.

 

James Stewart  II married Mary of Kelders

The Mons Meg canon was sold to the King of Scots in 1457

 

The United Dutch Republic and the Protestant Reformations formed stronger links, and over to Scotland. The Dutch Wars of Independence followed.  Dates - 

And Belgium became part of the Spanish Catholic Hapsburg empire.

 

Scotland and the Netherlands

1648 Calvinist international 1572 Scots First Brigade. 17th century – new alliance with the Dutch

1629 Prince William of Orange who married Mary Stuart, daughter of Charles Stuart

 

(The Stewart name was changed by Mary Queen of Scots during her growing up in France.)

 

Culture matters a great deal to how we imagine our futures – since 2014, many of us have watched major productions with Scots ties - 

Outlander, the musical Hamilton and the tv series  Succession. I’m affected a great deal by the traditional Scots music at Celtic connections music festival Glasgow. 



Thursday, 22 April 2021

Scotia’s Ties to Europe: Top Scots writers support Scots indy

 

Nicola Sturgoen & Val McDermid Edinburgh

Brexit, is an act of deep political folly.

Writers keep a light on hoping Scotland will return to EU.

 

TOP WRITERS speak out!

Some of Scotland’s top writers wrote of their deep sense of regret and loss at leaving the European union – an equal partnerships of sovereign nations – imposed on us by England. Brexit was take back control, is about London taking back control of the devolved nations of the UK.

 

All three pre-eminent Scots writers are supporters of Scottish indy. 

 

Professor Tom Devine, “ I am hopeful that our ancient country will once again be united with out European friends before too long. The Brexit battle is over, the struggle to return to the EU has just begun. For over 600 years between the 12th and early 18th century Scotland most intimate external relations were with Europe. That can be so again. It will be a black Friday for me, a sad and utterly irrational farewell to the EU, a decision which is fundamentally opposed by a very large majority of this ancient nation.’


Val McDermid - "Today is a day of deep mourning. Membership of the EU has improved our quality of life in so many areas form human rights to the vastly higher standards fo roads in the highlands and islands." 

 

Al Kennedy - "Brexit is being revealed ever more clearly as an English project, with an increasingly laser focused definition of what is permitted to be English. The idea that countries would unite on equal terms in any kind of collegiate organisation is incomprehensible. There are only colonies and the colonised. This betrays England and Englishness and leaves only the worst fo any nation - the freakish, the frightened, the racist and bigoted." 


The way ahead for Scotland will be difficult as it will be for all areas of the UK. Breaking away form a government with a desperately colonial mind-set will be complex and no doubt fraught with setbacks and betrayal. But Brexit has turned Scottish Indy within the EU into both a necessity and a real possibility.”

 

Glasgow university

Professor Tom Devine is Scotland’s premier historian and author of major books on Scottish history. He is the recipient of 3 national prizes for research on Scottish history. The senior Hume Brown prize,  Saltire society prize (1985), Henry Duncan prize Royal Society of Edinburgh (1993). Honorary membership of Scottish PEN (2020). Devine is considered one of the top academic and influencers.  “ The nations pre-eminent historian ,a towering and fearless intellect.” The Herald Scottish power 100. Professor Tom Devine, retired in 2015 as the chair of Scottish history and Palaeography university of Edinburgh. He continues his lectures in the UK and abroad. 

I’ve attended 3 of Devine’s lecture, which I enjoyed and benefited from. He is a supporter of Scottish indy.

 

Val McDermid, Scottish crime writer best known for a series of novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony hill in a grim sub-genre that McDermid and others have identified as tartan noir. She sings with the band Fun Loving Crime Writers.

 

AL Kennedy is a Scottish writer, academic and stand-up comedian. She writes novels, short stories and non-fiction and is known for her dark tone, blending of realism and fantasy and for her serious approaches. She contributes columns and reviews to European newspapers.

 

 

Other writers who support Scottish indy include – 

William Mcllvanney, Alasdair Gray, Ian bell, Irvine Welsh, Iain Macwhirter, Alan Riach, Irvine Welsh,

Alan Bisset, Stuart Cosgrove Liz Lochhead, Lesley Riddoch, Ruth WIshart, Gerry Hassan,


Musicians who support Scottish Indy  - Aly Bain, Dick Gaughan, Annie Lennox, Proclaimers,

 

Scots actors who support Scots indy – Alan Cumming, Sean Connery, Sam Heughan, Brain Cox, David Tennent, Elaine C Smith. 


I’m amazed by the Scots history I’ve been totally unaware of until now – even though I studied education at Edinburgh university and took history higher at school. We were taught only English history. Yet Scots history is so incredibly interesting! 

 

Scottish Enlightenment - 

English historian Peter Gay argues that the Scottish Enlightenment "was a small and cohesive group of friends – David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and others – who knew one another intimately and talked to one another incessantly.’ 

Education was a priority in Scotland, both at the local level and especially in four universities that had stronger reputations than any in England. The Enlightenment culture was based on close readings of new books, and intense discussions that took place daily at such intellectual gathering places in Edinburgh as The Select Society and, later The Poker Club as well as within Scotland's ancient universities (St Andrew’s, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen). Sharing the humanist and rationalist outlook of the European Enlightenment of the same time period, the thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment asserted the importance of human reason combined with a rejection of any authority that could not be justified by reason. In Scotland, the Enlightenment was characterised by a thorough going empiricism and practicality where the chief values were improvement, virtue, and practical benefit for the individual and society as a whole. Among the fields that rapidly advanced were philosophy, economics, history architecture, and medicine. Leaders included Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, Adam Smith, Dugald Stewart, Thomas Reid, William Robertson, Henry Home, Lord Kames, Adam Ferguson, John Playfair, Joseph Black and James Hutton. 

The Scottish Enlightenment influenced England and the American colonies, and to a lesser extent continental Europe.