In Focus: Scottish Photography (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

In Focus: Scottish Photography

Maud Sulter, Terpsichore, 1989. © Maud Sulter / The Estate of Maud Sulter (Photo: Street Level Photoworks)

Exhibition capturing the striking breadth of Scotland's photographic history

Hidden away in the basement as it awaits the arrival of Edinburgh Art Festival's larger exhibitions upstairs at the City Art Centre, this era-spanning collection of Scottish photography from the centre's collection is by no means comprehensive. It does, however, feature some striking works, not least the late Scots-Ghanaian artist Maud Sulter's large image of the performance artist Delta Streete as the muse Terpsichore. This photograph leads the exhibition's publicity, and also pushes the subject of black representation in classic photographic portraiture with as much urgency as it did 29 years ago (Sulter herself also appears in the similar and accompanying Calliope).

Elsewhere, the breadth of work on display makes up for the modest exhibition size. There are images of Edinburgh dating back to 1840 by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson; biblical digital collages by Calum Colvin; amusing self-portraits which act as political responses to their surroundings in Nathan Coley's 'Waiting on the Scottish Parliament' and 'Reading Burns to the Scott Monument'; Joseph McKenzie's warm-hearted, working class 1960s documentary work; Catherine Yass' dusky lightbox image of the Red Road flats, inspired by Didier Pasquette's 2007 attempt to tightrope-walk between them; and Christine Borland's 'The Velocity of Drops', a watermelon incongruously smashed from a great height amid the Mount Stuart mansion on the Isle of Bute. There isn't a huge amount to see, but there's a lot to absorb.

City Art Centre, until 12 May, free.

In Focus: Scottish Photography

Scotland has played a central role in the history of fine art photography since the mid 19th century. The pioneering work of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson helped to lay its foundations in the 1840s, inspiring subsequent generations to explore both the documentary potential of the medium and its aesthetic…

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