Romantic Camera | Scottish Photography & the Modern World

  • 1st December 2011 − 3rd June 2012 | Scottish National Portrait Gallery


The 1970s witnessed a revival of photography in Scotland as new exhibition spaces were established and the medium began to be taught more systematically in art schools. A number of highly skilled practitioners emerged, drawing on a wide range of influences to rejuvenate the traditions of Scottish photography, particularly in landscape and portraiture. At the same time, Scotland continued to be an attractive location for artists wanting to experiment with romantic subject-matter and forms. Such experiments could be radical, for instance Joseph Beuys’s extraordinary filmic representation of the landscape at Rannoch Moor.

The 1980s also saw the emergence of a more satirical and playful take on photography’s romantic inheritance as artists highlighted its constructed character and questioned its stranglehold over the popular imagination. For Calum Colvin in particular, the hope of escaping the pacifying effects of Scottish nostalgia seemed increasingly remote. It was during this period, too, that the National Galleries of Scotland formalised its commitment to photography, building a collection that was itself shaped by a highly romantic conception of the medium and its history.


Cows Catriona Grant


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