I’ve been working on ‘The Guisers’ Project for a little bit recently. A guiser is a child who at Halloween goes around the neighbours’ doors and in return for ‘a turn’ (a party-piece involving a song, joke, dance, mini-play etc) gets some sweets and fruit usually. Many people don’t realise this still happens in Scotland and think that it is all ‘trick or treat’ which is from the U.S.
Guising predates the American version and this tradition was taken to the U.S. by immigrants from various Celtic origins, and along with other cultural influences became the American ‘trick or treat’.
A guiser is “in disguise” and in this project the children and young teens present themselves in their costumes and share their thoughts on why they chose to dress up as they did.
The minds of children are fascinating as they grow and develop their sense of self and this project allows the children to also have a voice.
The images were all taken at Halloween, just before the participants left to go out guising. More is planned for 2016 so check back for an expanded project soon.
See ‘The Guisers’
These two photos show a mother and a daughter over the space of more than 20 years. In 1994 I made a series of work entitled Family, the full set of images can be viewed on the website. The image above is from an ongoing project which catches up with the children in the original series to tell their current stories. More work will be posted as it develops.
This is a page from inside the book Personal Myths: Little Stories in Epilepsy that I have put together. It will be part of an upcoming show “Beyond Epilepsy” in the Intermedia Gallery in the CCA and part of Glasgow Science Festival.
An image of my brain – the seat of my epileptic activity – and the cause of the misconceptions and prejudice that the book relays through the stories inside.
Thu 9 June – Sun 19 June 2016
Tue-Sat: 11am-6pm // Sun: 12noon-6pm // Free
Preview: Wed 8 Jun, 6pm-8pm
Just over a year ago I photographed Andrea and wrote a story about her and her work with The Children’s Wood in Glasgow. In short, the Children’s Wood was developed by local residents on unused land and, as part of North Kelvin Meadow, grew into something quite amazing as a community resource. Just recently the land has come under threat again as plans to build housing on North Kelvin Meadow were approved. Under the photo, you can read the story about Andrea and her contribution to her community.
We start by crossing the River Kelvin and dipping a toe into Maryhill. Some call this area North Kelvinside, where residential developments of the late 19th century crossed the river and were established on old estates, just south of the growing burgh of Maryhill.
A couple of minutes walk takes us to the Children’s Wood where along with numerous other volunteers, Andrea helps children to have fun in the outdoors of their city. Work and learn, explore and play in a small patch of wild within an urban environment. Here, Andrea run classes in outdoor skills for children with groups coming from all over Maryhill and beyond.
Yet the Children’s Wood sits within contended land. Part of North Kelvin Meadow, local residents established an area for the community from old disused playing fields. For many locals, it is an important open green space comprising allotments, a community orchard, a wild meadow and a wood.
The Council want to sell off the meadow and build houses. Local residents want to keep their wild green land. They are opposing the Council, fighting to keep their much-loved – and used – space.
The Children’s Wood itself sits on an old tennis court, where nature seeps in, takes back and re-establishes itself from the built and the man-made. Outdoors, next to the tenements of Maryhill, children can run free, play free, climb trees and build dens. They learn skills known to previous generations of children but sometimes little used in today’s measured childhood experiences. They plant, cook on open fires, tell stories, look for birds and flowers, use tools to cut and to build, create and play.
In this little bit of wild in urban Maryhill, kids have fun and leave with experiences that will remain with them throughout life.
More info: The Children’s Wood Website
My latest post for Documenting Britain is on their website. It is a portrait of a young activist in Glasgow with her story.
If you can, please take the time to look at some of the interesting works being shown over on the Documenting Britain website. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter for general photo and arts news as well as updates from the people involved in the group.
My next post with a portrait and story is nearly completed and will be available soon.
I was kindly asked to contribute to Documenting Britain which is ” a creative response to the British Isles by a group of artists, photographers, filmmakers, composers and poets.” Founded by Alistair Cook the range of work on show is exciting and diverse. For my own part, I deliver a post every month on an ongoing project.
Some people use the project work as a visual diary, some to show larger bodies of work. I am doing it to produce new work with a portrait and a story every month featuring a local person.
I like this marriage between image and text, the ability to look at a photograph and return to it as the text reveals the narrative of who they are and what they do. The story of them, or rather, part of them. Anyway, that is what I plan to do.
My first story can be seen over on the Documenting Britain website now and number two is due to be published very soon.
After much research and some shooting…. Project M is in the works.
For years, some projects sit in your head. Rolling and rumbling along, little bits getting added, taken out, decisions made and undone again. They sit there and wait, these projects. Updates soon.
I always like to try something new and a couple of weeks ago took Alastair Cook up on his suggestion of contributing something, as a visiting artist, to an ongoing project of his in Greenock.
I had gone to meet Alastair for the first time a couple of weeks earlier during which time he taught me some wet plate collodian and we had a chit chat. Having no time that day, I returned the following week to see what Greenock would offer up to me as way of a story in a short time frame. This is not my usual way of working where meeting and discussions (mostly) take place in advance with people or places I will photograph.
So it was fun. And a challenge.
I will write a longer piece in the future of the afternoon and what happened. Who I met, who I photographed and the stories I was told.
In the meantime, a short post to thank those I met for their time and generosity. I will be back so might bump into you again. If you want to see your photo that I took that day, just drop me a line on the contact form. Cheers!