Document Scotland was formed by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Colin McPherson, Stephen McLaren and Sophie Gerrard in 2012. We were brought together by a common vision to witness and photograph the important and diverse stories within Scotland at one of the most important times in our nation’s history and to encourage, promote and support photography in Scotland.
Ironically, the original idea for Document Scotland was not cooked up in Edinburgh or Glasgow, but in Beijing. Jeremy, Stephen and Colin were working on an assignment there together and over a couple of beers we hatched the plan for the collective. It was relatively straight-forward in terms of organisation: we wanted to keep things simple and carry on working to our own agendas but allow areas where we did coincide and overlap to become the basis for Document Scotland. With Sophie soon on board, we built a website which we filled with our own content and invited contributions in the form of blogs, photo-essays and portfolios from other photographers shooting stories in- or about Scotland.
Once we built a bit of momentum, we began to reach out to some of the key players in Scottish photography and initiated conversations about what could be achieved in the short term and what was strategically important in the long run. We weren’t surprised to find that photography in Scotland is a small world, but it’s a environment which is very supportive and constructive. We think most photographers working at present understand the political and cultural backcloth at present and are very focused on making work.
Within our first year, we had staged a group exhibition which included work by 10 exciting contemporary Scottish photographers. In addition, we produced two newspapers and have subsequently produced an electronic magazine and a downloadable PDF, all featuring our own and/or other peoples’ work.
2014 is an especially busy year: we kicked off with a show at Scotland House at the EU Brussels, then came the Beyond the Border exhibition at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, followed closely by Common Ground, our latest show which opened on 26 August at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, which is supported by Creative Scotland. In addition, we have launched an 84-page publication to coincide with Common Ground. This features diverse photo essays from the collective, as well as contributions from Welsh collective A Fine Beginning, Malcolm Dickson (Street Level) and Anne McNeill (Impressions). We also took the opportunity of the publication to announce the great Scottish photographer Harry Benson as our honorary patron.