Colin McPherson

Photographer and Visual Artist

Posts tagged ‘people’

At Home with the Hibees

Hibs-05

With almost comic timing, just as a mini-retrospective of my Scottish football photography is about to open, When Saturday Comes magazine commissioned me to cover a match back where it all began for me.

In less than a fortnight, my contribution to Document Scotland’s The Ties That Bind exhibition will launch at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. My project is entitled When Saturday Comes after the publication which has allowed me to cover matches from internationals to non-League over the past decade.

Making their way across the Crawford Bridge. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Making their way across the Crawford Bridge. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

With all the photographs selected, printed, framed and ready to go on to the wall at the prestigious Edinburgh venue, last Saturday was back to business: a Scottish Championship match between Hibernian and visitors Alloa Athletic at the city’s Easter Road Stadium. I have been there many times before: as a photographer, as an away fan (I jumped ship for neighbouring Meadowbank Thistle in 1979) and, as a young lad, an ardent supporter of the Hibees.

Pre-match outside Middleton's. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Pre-match outside Middleton’s. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Set against the backdrop of the forthcoming exhibition, walking down Easter Road seemed poignant and timely. I tried to recall as much as I could about what it was like back in November 1974, when, at my dad’s side, we made our way to see my favourites take on Morton in a top tier Scottish League match. So much has changed, but so much remains the same. The boyish enthusiasm of other young lads is the same as it ever was. Swaddled in green scarves, hurrying over the Crawford Bridge, the raw pre-match excitement is tangible. A whole week’s waiting is over. Seven days’ anticipation since that last game nearly at an end. Conversations snatched, the quickening pace towards the ground, then the shuddering halt and the seemingly endless queueing to get in.

Easter Road, the main artery which brings columns of fans to the game is eerily familiar. The difference is the colour and light spilling on to the pavement from assorted shops and stores. Back then, everything save the pubs would have closed down Saturday lunchtime. The smell of ale from Middleton’s reminds me that football was much more a man’s game in the 1970s. Denim flares, swearing and a hard-but-silent aggression permeated the air. Trouble lurked, not in fixtures against Morton, Clyde or Arbroath, but games against Hearts, Rangers and Celtic which would be off-limits to me for the time being.

Turnbull's Tornadoes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Turnbull’s Tornadoes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

I am reminded of how Edinburgh and Scotland continues to change. Mobile phones, kebabs, penthouse flats. If we could even imagine what these were in 1974, it was because they inhabited the realms of science fiction, Tomorrow’s World or the sort of exotic holidays few people ever ventured on. There’s a mix of peoples too. The Polish deli is busy, black and Asian faces punctuate the crowds, as supporters mix with locals at the corner of Edina Place. The past unfurls in front of me in a whiff of tobacco smoke, another habit changing with the times.

The stadium gleams, bathed in autumnal light, a temple of modernity and functional design. Gone is the corrugated, dark green main stand, a menacing hulk stalking the touchline. And swept away too is the vast open terracing, so large it once helped accommodate 65,000 people at a 1950s derby match. Today the crowd is a much more modest 7,774, including 79 boisterous away fans from Clackmannanshire, housed in splendid isolation at the old ‘Dunbar’ end. This is second tier football, a recognition that this club which eternally promises much and should deliver more, has but a couple of League Cup successes to its name since those heady days of my youth and Turnbull’s Tornadoes.

The Green Army gathers Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Green Army gathers Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

As with some many clubs I visit, the past is repackaged in a constant reminder of sweeter times. There’s a Famous Five stand, populated by unregulated and unruly kids, who spend most of the match running up and down and imploring the Hibs substitutes to sign autographs. Nostalgia is in plentiful supply, but fans of Hibernian FC still demand that things are done in a certain way: winning is not enough, it never was. Hibbies demand victory with panache and style.

Today they get the former spiced with a little of the latter. At times it’s like a training match as Hibs cocoon their opponents in their own half, and but for some profligacy, the winning three-goal margin would have matched the five-star performance of Pat Stanton and co. that day in ’74.

Hibbies heading home. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Hibbies heading home. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Proceedings complete, we shuffle along Albion Road into blinding sunlight. Happy Hibbies heading home. I reach the corner of Easter Road and remember the sweet shop which once stood opposite. Much to my bemusement as a 10-year-old, it sold its wares by the ounce, not in packets. It was charming, old fashioned and slightly eccentric. Not that different from the football team it shares Easter Road with, really.

The match will feature in the November issue of When Saturday Comes magazine, which will hit the newsstands around 10th October 2015.

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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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Abbey road

A small but perfectly-formed compendium of archive photography from one of my favourite stories, has just been published.

Shot in 1996, Sancta Maria Abbey, Nunraw is a look into the daily routine and rituals of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, a small religious community based on the slopes of the Lammermuir hills, East Lothian on Scotland’s east coast.

The images were taken on an assignment for the Independent newspaper and involved spending a few days at the monastery, observing a way-of-life quite alien to my own. The resulting photographs were published in the paper on Easter weekend and were subsequently featured in a number of other publications. I re-visited Nunraw on a couple of occasions shortly afterwards, but my contact with the monastery, which still survives to this day, has long-since stopped.

When I struck up a conversation with Craig Atkinson of Cafe Royal Books earlier this year, he was interested in the idea of putting together something to coincide with my forthcoming exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as part of Document Scotland’s The Ties That Bind show. This has resulted in Cafe Royal Books publishing four separate projects, all of which are to be presented in a limited-edition box set, available in September. The set will feature my work from Nunraw, alongside colleagues Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert (North Sea Fishing), Sophie Gerrard (Tunnock’s) and Stephen McLaren (Dookits).

Sancta Maria Abbey, Nunraw is now available for sale from Cafe Royal Books as part of Craig’s ongoing mission to publish some of the best unseen work made by many of the country’s leading photography practitioners. It is strictly a limited edition of 150, and costs only £7. As they say: hurry, while stocks last!

Monks at dawn prayers in the chapel. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

Monks at dawn prayers in the chapel. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

A monk working in the laundry. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

A monk working in the laundry. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

A monk working on the farm. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

A monk working on the farm. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

A monk cleaning the floor in a corridor. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

A monk cleaning the floor in a corridor. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

Graves of recently interred monks. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

Graves of recently interred monks. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1996 all rights reserved.

 

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Winners and losers in Wirral

Counted Conservative ballot papers. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Counted Conservative ballot papers. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

It was a long and strange night. But then, voting in your Member of Parliament often is.

As the 2015 General Election drama unfolded across these islands, a tennis centre in Wirral became the focus of a political mini-drama. A fight-within-a-fight. On an evening when the Labour balloon slowly deflated on a giant television screen in the corner of the counting hall, Wirral West MP Esther McVey became the only Conservative government minister to lose her seat in the UK, as Margaret Greenwood sneaked home for the Labour Party with a wafer-thin majority of 400 after a recount.

The cheers and smiles of the victors masked disappointment that the swingometer in Scotland was looking more like a Richter scale while further south, the Tories were entrenching themselves at Westminister for another five years.

In the end the winner was the loser and vice versa. Funny old game, politics!

Tellers checking voting. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tellers checking voting. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther McVey tackles the media. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther McVey tackles the media. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Scottish swingometer. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Scottish swingometer. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tories watching results on TV. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tories watching results on TV. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Wirral West candidates scrutinise votes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Wirral West candidates scrutinise votes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A victorious Margaret Greenwood. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A victorious Margaret Greenwood. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Labour celebrate a rare victory. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Labour celebrate a rare victory. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther departs, stage right. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther departs, stage right. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

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Moving Beijing #1

 

 

 

 

 

To go with my latest Gallery feature on this site about my observations of a typical intersection in Beijing, I thought it would be interesting to share a slice of iPhone footage I made at the time I captured the images.

Closer inspection of both film and photos reveal some of the cast of characters appearing in both media.

Hope you enjoy this moving, swirling, swerving tribute to the ubiquitous Chinese junction.

View it here: Moving Beijing

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Up the Junction in Beijing

 

Beijing on the move. Any time, any place, anywhere. In this sprawling metropolis, ordinary people are going from A to B, all day, every day.

Take any junction and stand there for long enough and you’ll see cameos of life played out. Small vignettes of existence. Slices of lives lived on the move. Where are they going? Where have they been? Are they late or on time? As the lights turn red, they are forced to stop. Pause. Wait. In doing so, we glimpse some lost in thought, some impatient, some carrying out mundane tasks, adjusting bags, making phone calls or in the case of the refuse collector, examining the damage to his cart, clipped by one of the all-pervading automobiles.

Pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes all edge forward in anticipation, jockeying for space mindful of the cars and buses which could appear from any direction. There are rules – of sorts – but there’s little time to obey them.

As the lights turn to green, they are off. They disappear from view forever, leaving nothing behind but a collection of pixels in my camera and a snapshot of a typical Beijing day. In seconds they are replaced by a new intake, and the cycle continues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the Road

“The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.” – Amelia E. Barr.

These images represent a collection of my favourite places, people and memories from over 25 years on the road with my camera.

Each photograph documents a time and a place, and holds a particular significance for me. Some were taken on assignment, others whilst travelling or on holiday. Continue reading…

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