1st annual St Andrews Photography Festival opens for six-week run

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

BID St Andrews – the business improvement body created in January to support businesses in the town – has worked with the University of St Andrews and local businesses to create the new annual festival of photography to celebrate the role and importance of the town in the origins of the art and showcase the Scottish photography which has become part of the legacy of the pioneers who were based in St Andrews.

Best known is Dr John Adamson, who taught his brother Robert Adamson - who went on to form the seminal documentary partnership with David Octavius Hill – and inspired Thomas Rodger - who set up the first photographic studio in St Andrews in 1849. Other figures being celebrated include Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair, David Octavius Hill, Robert Adamson and Sir David Brewster.

The festival, which runs till September 11, began with a lecture by Dr A.D. Morrison-Low, Research Associate, National Museums Scotland, on the work of Dr John Adamson at The Byre Theatre. The six-week-long festival will see other events and exhibitions focus on the earliest days of photography in St Andrews as well as the pioneers’ legacy in Scottish documentary photography since.

Some of the photographic archive highlights of the University of St Andrews Library Special Collections are on show alongside a showcase for contemporary Scottish photography.

Thirteen local businesses, including cafés and restaurants, are hosting exhibitions alongside six more conventional venues. There are also workshops to demonstrate a variety of early photographic processes including calotype and collodion, talks and events for photographers of all ages and levels.

The highlights of the 18 exhibitions are:

  • Scotland Through The Lens: 175 years of documentary photography - prints from University of St Andrews Library’s Special Collections archive, from September 1 to December 20.
  • Pioneer Thomas Rodger - prints from the University of St Andrews Library’s Special Collections archive will be on show in the first purpose-built photographic studio on St Mary’s Place, now the University Careers Centre.
  • Photographic artist Calum Colvin RSA OBE - a selection from Colvin’s much-collected 'constructed photography' output over the last 30 years, including a stereoscopic portrait.
  • Document Scotland - a collaboration between Scottish documentary collective Document Scotland and the University of St Andrews Special Collections will see a selection of images displayed outdoors along the railings of The Scores, which looks out to the West Sands and the Firth of Tay.
  • Keny Drew - The series Wet explores the emotions of a Scottish Summer and the textures of glass and the movement of water through a combination of photographic techniques, modern and traditional stained glass techniques. Drew’s work is printed then fired in a kiln on glass to give a “stained glass” appearance.
  • David Peat - street photography by the award-winning Scottish documentary-maker, cinematographer and photographer. There will also be a talk on Peat’s work by David Bruce.
  • Renowned rock photography of Harry Papadopoulos - 16 images from the collection at Street Level Photoworks which resulted in the major project What Presence: the Rock Photography of Harry Papadopoulos.
  • Franki Raffles - a cross-section of the archive of the feminist social documentary photographer, and St Andrews alumna, whose powerful images for the Zero Tolerance campaign highlighted awareness of domestic and sexual abuse against women around the world.
  • Alicia Bruce - prints from the controversial Menie: TRUMPED project by the award-winning documentary photographer and lecturer about the effect on the natural landscape and local residents of the creation of the Trump Resort in Aberdeenshire. She’s also hosting a presentation of her portfolio and giving a portraiture workshop.
  • Landscape pioneer Robert Moyes Adam – Once Scotland’s foremost landscape photographer, his work is known from Scotsman calendars, The Scots Magazine and many books from the 1930s and ‘40s.

The programme of 35 events includes:

  • Early processes demonstrations – Demonstrations of three of the earliest photographic processes: the calotype, the lucotype and the photogenic drawing and well as cyanotype printing workshop.
  • Outdoor Victorian Tintype Studio – Have Richard Cynan Jones take your photograph in a recreation of an outdoor Victorian Tintype Studio.
  • ‘Become a Street Photographer’ youth workshop - local photographer Carolyn Scott will give 13-17 year-olds tips on becoming a better storyteller with their photos. The resulting pictures will become part of the Scotland Through The Lens exhibition at the Gateway Galleries.
  • Literary Readings inspired by the work of Hill & Adamson - Award-winning writer and St Andrews graduate Ali Bacon creates stories around the calotypes of Hill and Adamson and lends a voice to those who sat for the earliest portraits. Presented with the illustrations from the University Library Special Collections which inspired them.
  • Family History Collections Day - An event for local families to bring their photos and have Rachel Nordstrom, Photographic Collections Manager at the University Library, explain their technical background, historical importance and discuss the proper long-term care of personal collections.
  • The St Andrews Photo Tour - In the 1840s St Andrews became the first town to be thoroughly documented by photography. Walkers will learn about the people and places featured in Scotland Through the Lens: 175 years of documentary photography on a free walk led by the University Library’s Photographic Collection Manager, Rachel Nordstrom.

There are also a series of talks by notable photo historians including: Dr Sara Stevenson, former Chief Curator of the Scottish National Photography Collection; Professor Elizabeth Edwards of De Montfort University and David Bruce former director of the Scottish Film Council.

For sweet-toothed fans of historic photography, local Royal Warrant-holding bakers and confectioners Fisher & Donaldson have created 'cartes-de-biscuite' – chocolate versions of the Cartes-de-visite photographic calling cards used by Victorian society – as well as chocolate ‘stereo-bars’ - bars of chocolate with images of St Andrews and can be viewed in 3D.

BID St Andrews Chair, Alistair Lang, says: “We’re delighted to see this celebration of the contribution to photography made by St Andrews and its photographic pioneers, as well as some of the Scottish photography inspired by their work, open.

“We’re looking forward to seeing fans of photography taking part in this unique festival, either in person or via social media.

“The event, which is intended to become a fixture in the town’s calendar, has created an opportunity for businesses across St Andrews to get involved and interact with customers in new ways.

“We’re very grateful to the University and Fife Council for their support in creating it.”

Festival Organiser Rachel Nordstrom (Photographic Collections Manager, University of St Andrews Library, Special Collections Division) says: “While most people think of St Andrews as the home of golf, or the home of an ancient university, there is a rich photographic history which is often overlooked by many visitors.

“Thanks to a close friendship between William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the photographic negative, and Sir David Brewster, Principal of the United Colleges in St Andrews, photography first arrived in Scotland by way of St Andrews. The new medium was then taken up with great enthusiasm across the country.

“Over the past three years we have seen a resurgence in Scotland for the appreciation for historic and contemporary photography. Our aim is to build on this but highlight the vital role St Andrews played in the earliest days of photography, and the role Scotland played for the following 175 years.

“I am extremely excited to be involved in this joint project between the town and the University which highlights an important part of local heritage and celebrates a long line of talented Scottish photographers.”

The St Andrews Photography Festival runs till 11 September 2016. You can read and download the programme at bit.ly/StAndPhotoFest2016

For latest details as they’re revealed, go to the festival Facebook page at www.facebook.com/StAndPhotoFest/