Photography News | Issue 35 | absolutephoto.com
the country into this period of time to help with focusing media promotion. That starts in September, so we wanted to overlap with that to make sure we were included. Looking forward, I don’t think we’ll be doing a six-week Festival – it was definitely a lot to take on for our first year. We’ll have a better idea of what fits best for the town. The town is so busy in August anyway, so maybe next year it will be just be September. What other activities and workshops are running during the Festival? We have a photographer coming up to set up a Victorian outdoor tintype studio so people can come and have their portraits taken as they would have in the 1860s/70s when photography took a leap out of the studio. The tintype was a cheap and fast way to make photographs. Small portable darkrooms were showing up at beaches, town centres, and fairs which opened up photography to more people than ever before. It will be great to get people to see first-hand what photography was like then. It should be really fun for everyone. Many of the photographers are hosting evenings to chat about their work and give visitors a chance to get to know the work and the artists better. There will be many historic process demonstrations and workshops; there’s a really nice community of enthusiasts who practice and teach these processes which most people think died out many years ago with the advent of the digital camera. We have lots of talks, including scholars and academics to talk more on the academic side of things, but also to give a bit more context to the world of photography.
We will even have a whisky-tasting evening with SeanDooleywhoworked on a photobook with Craigellachie’s Distillery a few years ago; and we have a literary reading with writer Ali Bacon, who uses some the earliest portraits as inspiration for her stories. Is everything free? We’ve tried to make everything free. All the talks and demonstrations are free. The workshops are paid for, but are subsidised by a grant fromFife Council so are less expensive than they would normally be, and we’ve tailored them to be shorter, taster events. For example, we have collodion workshops that are single days, if people like it and want to learn more they can sign up for longer ones which are regularly offered across the UK. Are most of the events bookable ahead of time, or do you turn up on the day? It depends on the event. All that information for the Festival is on the Facebook page or in the printed programme. For some venues with limited space we are using a free booking system or timed entry, but you can just show up to most of the events. What sort of reaction have you had from the public? It’s really nice because when I tell people about it theyget very excited, and lots of people want to be involved in whatever way possible. Many photographers wanted to exhibit their work. A lot of local business owners wanted to open up their venues. Within the photographic community across Scotland, other curators, historians,
gallery directors and collections managers recognized that we were lacking a proper celebration of Scottish photography so this was a welcome addition to the Festival circuit. There is the Retina Festival in Edinburgh, which focuses on international and contemporary photography. And there is the ACTINIC Festival, but that really looks at alternative historic processes and the community which still practices these forms of photography. Brittonie Fletcher, who runs ACTINIC is working with us on pulling together some of our workshops. Everyone within the photographic community seems really happy and excited that this is finally happening. Photography first came to Scotland by way of St Andrews due to the close friendship between the inventor William Henry Fox Talbot and the principal of the United Colleges, Sir David Brewster. Many of the earliest practitioners of the photographic process had connections to St Andrews, so I think many people are happy to see the Festival take place here. How did you choose which photographers to exhibit and what work? In part we needed to think of the most efficient way to get the ball rolling so we relied quite heavily on Special Collections material held by the University Library. As we have substantial collections here, I could draw on some collection highlights that researchers and publishers have been interested in, and much of this is already digitised and catalogued. Several key members of my team who knew areas of the collection were able to curate specific shows as well. The photographic community in Scotland is quite tight and we all know each other. I’ve a good working relationship with the directors of Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, and Stills Gallery in Edinburgh as well as other curatorsandphotographers.Ididmybestfrom the start to let everyone know that this Festival is a celebration of Scottish photography, and so many were a huge help working with photographers and curating shows. Do you expect it to become an annual event? Yes, we have a commitment from BIDwho has budgeted for this to be an annual event for at least the next five years. We will be collecting feedback from the community on the Festival and using it to inform future events.
Many of the earliest practitioners of the photographic process had connections to St Andrews, so I think many people are happy to see the Festival take place here Top Four gentlemen golfers in a car, St Andrews, 1904. By John Fairweather, held in Cowie Collection. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: GMC-F-28 Left The Kelpies at sunset, Falkirk, 2014. By Hamish Brown. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: HMB-1000 Below left Dr John Adamson’s home on South Street, St Andrews, 1862. By John Adamson. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: ALB-8-67 Below Woman in window, Harris, 1937. By Robert Moyes Adam. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library: RMA-H- 5591.X
facebook.com/StAndPhotoFest The Festival runs from 1 Aug to 10 Sept
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