Colin McPherson

Photographer and Visual Artist

The Ties That Bind

'Dressing Room, Edinburgh City, 2015'. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

You’ve listened to the song. You’ve read the magazine. Now, see the exhibition.

When Saturday Comes, a collection of my photographs from around the grounds of Scottish football, opens later this month at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

The selection to be shown was chosen by the gallery’s Curator of International Photography Anne Lyden and helps form an exhibition entitled The Ties That Bind which presents the work of the four members of Document Scotland, the collective I helped form in 2012.

'Supporters, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, 2008'. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

‘Supporters, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, 2008’. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

The title of my collection comes from the name of the football magazine which commissioned me to take the photographs. Over the last decade, I have been fortunate to work as one of the main contributing photographers for When Saturday Comes. My involvement with the monthly publication actually started in the 1980s, long before I took up a camera in anger, when I wrote occasional features for them. As co-editor of a notorious football fanzine, my views on Scottish football found a wider audience with the magazine’s UK-wide circulation. Ten years ago, I covered fans’ team FC United of Manchester’s first-ever match for the Observer and the photos came to the attention of When Saturday Comes. Since then, I have been to matches on their behalf at home and abroad, covering everything from Champions’ League and internationals to the lowest rungs of organised competitive football. My heart is always in the lower and non-League game, and this is reflected in the content of When Saturday Comes, the exhibition.

One of the most interesting aspects of the curatorial process of putting together the When Saturday Comes series, was that Anne Lyden is not a football fan, therefore she approached the subject from a different perspective to me. Her choices were fascinating to see but very much reflected my main interest in the sport: the smaller clubs in Scotland, often sustained by a hardcore of dedicated administrators, volunteers and supporters, whose commitment to their teams is something I am familiar through involvement with my own club, Edinburgh City.

'Berwick Rangers, 2014'. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

‘Berwick Rangers, 2014’. Photograph © Colin McPherson, all rights reserved.

I hope you can find time to visit the exhibition: the contributions of my Document Scotland colleagues Jeremy Sutton Hibbert (Unsullied and Untarnished), Sophie Gerrard (Drawn to the Land) and Stephen McLaren (A Sweet Forgetting) form part of a unique and diverse view of life in Scotland today, and look at our nation and its identity through the common riding festivals in the Borders, the life and work of women farmers and the links between Scotland, Jamaica and slavery.

The show opens on Saturday 26th September, 2015 and there are artists’ talks that day by all four Document Scotland photographers. The show runs right through until 24th April next year and takes place in the Robert Mapplethorpe Gallery at the SNPG. Admission is free.

You can read more about my involvement with When Saturday Comes magazine here and here.

Document Scotland: The Ties That Bind is part of the IPS (Institute for Photography in Scotland) 2015 Season of Photography, a series of exhibitions and events taking place across Scotland from April to September 2015.

Colin McPherson and Document Scotland would like to acknowledge and thank Creative Scotland and the University of St. Andrews Library’s Special Collection for supporting the making of the work for The Ties That Bind.

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9 Responses to “The Ties That Bind”

  1. Alan Shaw.

    Three great photos..The gentleman in the shirt at Berwick would have one time been described as lacking in moral fibre…I hope to get a chance in the new year to get a look at the Exhibition.

  2. Bill McClaren

    Tee shirts like these you only ever see on the borrrrrrderrrrrshhhhhhh
    I can tell ya

    Bill MC

  3. Scott Anderson

    GREAT STUFF Colin, Many congratulations, really bummed I cant make it to the show, but keep the blog entries flowing and I’ll get the flavor.

  4. Des tinney

    Can’t wait to view the photos in real life. Following the disgusting amount of money thrown around these days by the top football clubs, only now really feel a connection with lower league and amateur football.

  5. Mick Lawler

    Loved the exhibition Colin – I’m writing a review of it as part my MA in Photography. You provided some valuable insight into what football clubs really mean to local communities and the pride they bring – no matter what level they play at. On your travels do you find, despite everything, there is still this deep connection at larger clubs? – I’m interested as I’m researching a photo project about the land usage in the north east of England, such a football area, which I feel has lost some of it passion in recent years. The project is not about football but it’s such a strong symbolic force around here.

    • Colin McPherson

      Hi Mick,

      thanks for your kind comments, delighted you enjoyed the work. Yes, there is a strong emotional bond at bigger clubs. The passion is tangible and it’s there, you can see that. It’s a different type of commitment in a sense because bigger clubs tend to take fans from areas outwith their immediate locality. But the connection with the location is still there. I hope that makes sense. All the best.


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