The Best Seat in the House

The din of a festival rings in Edinburgh’s ears. 2014 roars by still.
For the last three years I have watched the closing fireworks concert from the best seat in the house. Photographers are allowed into the gardens at Princes Street and work in front of the orchestra’s bandstand during the full display. A performance and a view so spectacular, I cannot measure the privilege. The fireworks finalise a month of festivals in Edinburgh and the city centre closes for the city’s people to gather in round the gardens. The city’s unusual landscape comes into its own as people hike up hills, camp on rooftops and hunker down in the street to watch the display.
Sometimes the best seat is wherever you find yourself. This year I was untethered and let myself be carried through the tide of spectators. With only half an eye on the blazing acrobatics in the sky, the display for me was the unique collection of people that venture out and cluster together for the view. Fireworks are a devastating thing. They jolt our emotions out from the deep and pull us back to earth and into the present. They are maybe the closest thing to magic we ever know, a cosmological concussion on the heart. To watch the enjoyment of others spellbound, was to enjoy the show twice-fold for me. I relished the uncommon hush on the air beforehand, and took real delight in how gentle and patient everyone became, pulling in close and wearing their affection. Families, friends and lovers, the same faces from every day, still and contemplative in their own private turbulence.
For Edinburgh, they are the most cathartic thing. As glowing cinders and hot tips fall and dissipate into the black night, so too does the chaos and tumult of the last thirty days of festival delirium. The ash and smoke are carried off on the last of the summer wind as another chapter closes, and winter appears on the horizon again.

Artist Residence – Before Colour

Time flies when you’re having fun. Before I know it it is Tuesday again. A dusty carbon sky hangs over Glasgow.
So where has this week seen me? Detailing my project with Team Effort! and opening my eyes to Glasgow. I have spent the last 5 days engaged in my favourite activity. I have walked the streets of the city and watched, as if in slow-motion, the grey throb and heavy unfurling of urban life day to day. Since my very first vista of the city, I have always maintained a naive perspective on what makes it so rare a place. On its exterior it is a portrait of bleakness. Modernity and urban sprawl at its most literal,  it is like an unfinished masterpiece. Great angular citadels tower above the rain gloss asphalt, while below a tumult of limbs and commerce drown the great unrequited cry of crumbling heritage. A city infinitely grey, commercial, derelict and rain-soaked, yet, within the structure, it is electric with personality, character, creativity and myth. That humour too is renowned as dark and deadpan in Glasgow, wit becomes an intrinsic part of its colourful and ambiguous character. These romantic contradictions were my first impressions of Glasgow six years ago and it is these naive assumptions that hold me to my current project.
What I am working on is an exploration of colour. I am working to a slower and more traditional pace on large format film. January is both the most and least ideal time for this project to develop. I have spent the last week walking through the city at its most grey, searching for locations and framing up a shotlist, all the while remembering its hidden colour. The picture above sits over my desk as a reminder. My project here is to find a way under the surface, to find Glasgow in bloom with its own native colour. A colour that I hope to show everyone in the next two weeks if we can see past the fog.


A sun and a moon. A blink of an eye again.

In twelve months it is inconceivable where our feet fall. Mine have covered some ground. My shoes, the aged reliquarys of adventure, are always at the frontier of my expeditions. They are retired with grace and ceremony as the months wear them away. Parting with them, in their gait warped state, always brings a tugging reluctance. Twins of stability, accessory to my safe passage. Their silent companionship remains through the rain and frost of another year. They are seldom acknowledged for their service to how I see the world. But whatever I see through my camera, I wait for, on foot and on the street. 
Here at the end of a year when so many things have happened, the compulsion to remember the major events often obscures the beautiful phenomenon of three hundred days passing unmarked. On my travels, I have picked up milestones in pictures. An esoteric measurement of the seasons that I search out or capture in passing. I have no way of predicting what the next year has in store, what I do know is that I will keep searching in the street for reminders of life playing out, and that I will probably need new shoes.
Happy new year.

Har Harr

There is a lot to be said for the cold and the rain to bring out a darker side of the imagination. Mid May, and I was expecting a slow incline of daylight and a steady blooming of heat. We should all know better. Five degrees and a lead sky. The Arctic howl of December through our clothes, a flowing mire beneath our jaded shoes.  The worst shock to the system is the disappointment, that we have to wait in suspense for our summer to ever arrive.

The upshot is that I started touring my archive of the images I took over Winter for some consolation on how bad it can get. We need no reminding of the dark once the sun is baking our pavements again so I am happy to post them here for now. Tragically enough, these images of a very sombre Edinburgh Haar are only about a month old. Scotland, as ever, defies the definition of Winter.

Down in Leith it is business as usual. A busy football Saturday, pubs rammed. The opposing ends of Hibernian Stadium invisible to each other through a thick wall of white, according to reports. Shops’ shutters up, dogs to be walked, traffic lights green, football practice at 10, paper supplements, bus stop queue, Kirkgate pigeons, shopping bags at the bar, traffic lights red. And all the while, a heavy silence. Like holding the world on mute as the white envelopes everything. I walk around and see some of the most banal things blown out of proportion. A woman and her dog, burnished like two spots of ink on canvas. A flock of seagulls, noiseless from nowhere, bluster limply overhead like debris in a gale. A father and daughter emerge kicking a football in the Links. Shrouded in a cavern of grey, their breath on the air like coal trains as they run directionless, only to be swallowed again into nothing.

And a solitary figure, who seems more at home in the blankness than anyone. Hi Rab:-p


Goodbye summer

I like it in Scotland when you can talk about a season with no reference to the weather. Summer is a strict MayJuneJuly affair, rain or shine (or rain). So now that it is just at its end for the 2011th time this epoch, it should be celebrated. Not to say that the sun and games are at an end, contrary, August in Edinburgh means just that, but its nice to take a little time aside and revel in the sun we did have and all the deviancy it brings. This is no time for writing, there is weather to be had…

How can I not thank Ollie, Elaine and the wonderful S for all the sun times? I cannot!