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Off-Site Exhibitions

Angela Catlin: Natural Light II

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Hillhead Library, Glasgow | 04 May - 31 July

In 1985 Angela Catlin released her debut book Natural Light with an accompanying exhibition at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that subsequently toured Scotland. The 49 portraits of Scottish authors were heralded not only as spellbinding artistic works, but also as a broader encapsulation of a golden era of Scottish literature. Thirty years on, Catlin is revisiting the theme, featuring those seen in the original book such as Alasdair Gray, Jim Kelman, Liz Lochhead, Aonghas MacNeacail and Alan Spence but also casting light on another generation of literary greats including Ali Smith, AL Kennedy, Denise Mina and Alan Warner. 

Angela Catlin was staff photographer at The Herald newspaper in Glasgow from 1988 to 2006. During this time she won several photography awards including Scottish Photographer of the Year (twice) and Scottish/UK Feature Photo of the Year (four times). 

From 2007 her freelance work has focused on humanitarian and social issues with exhibitions ‘Life after Iraq’ which opened in Glasgow and then toured the UK (2008); ‘The Peacemakers’, launching at the Scottish Parliament and touring Scotland (2009); exhibition; ‘Pictures from the Middle East’ Edinburgh Film House (2010) and ‘Victims of Torture’ (2011). 

In 2012 she was awarded a 3 month fellowship in documentary photography with the British School at Rome and in 2012/14 received a Creative Scotland grant to revisit 'Natural Light' portraits of Scottish writers and in 2016 this was published as a book by Freight. 

Publications which have included her work include Scotland on Sunday, Spectrum Magazine, Sunday Herald, Herald Magazine, Live, The Guardian, Sunday Times Scotland, New York Times, New Zealand Herald, The Age (Australia), Al Jazeera, and the BBC. The exhibition was premiered earlier this year at Lillie Art Gallery in Milngavie. 

The exhibition at Hillhead Library is its first Glasgow showing. Both are part of our offsite programme, including these partnerships with EDLC and Glasgow Life. 

In 'Writers reveal what books have been on their bedside tables in 2016’ compiled by Rosemary Goring (The Herald, 26/11/16), the novelist and poet James Robertson wrote: ‘Among the famous names [in Natural Light] were Norman MacCaig, Hamish Henderson and George Mackay Brown, and some of those images are now classics. The book captured Scottish literature at a particular moment, telling us, among other things, of its overwhelming maleness. In Natural Light II, Catlin revisits the territory, showing us 59 writers, 23 of them women, in a variety of locations. Each portrait is accompanied by a piece of writing from the subject, and the overall impression is of a more multi-faceted, though still predominantly white, literature. Sadly, two of the subjects, Willie McIlvanney and Karl Miller, have left us already. Still, it is a delight to see new photos of those who were in the first book, including Jim Kelman, Liz Lochhead, Ron Butlin, Stewart Conn and Aonghas Macneacaill, with those 1985 pictures inset for comparison; and slightly sobering to speculate on who among us might still be here, still writing, 30 years hence. Catlin is a brilliant photographer and this is a fascinating and honest book.’

More info: Angela Catlin

Hillhead Library
348 Byres Road, Glasgow
G12 8AP
0141 276 1617
Mon - Thu: 10am - 8pm, Fri - Sat: 10am - 5pm, Sun: 12 - 5pm

Banner Image: Jim Kelman, © Angela Catlin
Left Image: Debi Giliori, © Angela Catlin