“Yes, we can be photographed, but to let you know there’ll be two of us and we’ll most probably be wearing boxes on our heads.”
"Eh, ok”, I thought, smiling, as I read the email from two Glasgow-based artists I’d written to.
For the last year I've criss-crossed Scotland photographing portraits of prominent artists in their studios, a self-initiated project to follow more my interest in art, and to also learn more about the contemporary art scene here. In my career I’ve photographed so many people, politicians, authors, sports people, but I came to realise in late 2022 that I’d never really photographed many artists in Scotland, only a few. Considering we have the internationally renowned Glasgow School of Art, and multiple Turner Prize winners and nominees, it seemed a glaring omission in my documentation of Scotland.
Since my career’s work was acquired by the University of St Andrews for their photography collection in 2021, and they obtained all I’ve shot in the last 33-years of freelance life, I’ve become ever more attuned to the idea of what I need to do in what I now think of as Part Two of my career - and that is to really concentrate on photographing and documenting Scotland. And hence to the artists, and photographing two perfectly sane, articulate, educated grown men in a small studio wearing cardboard boxes on their heads, the duo of internationally respected artists known as Beagles & Ramsay.
I contacted a few household name artists here in Scotland, telling them who I was, what I wanted to do - to photograph 100 artists of Scotland, and from there the project began. As I photographed each artist I’d ask them, “who do you think I should photograph?”, and the list grew organically. I’ve since photographed over 115, from household name artists such as Alison Watt, Ken Currie, Peter Howson, and many Turner Prize-winners and nominees; Christine Borland, Nathan Coley, Martin Boyce, and then also long-established artists and those just starting out on their journey but already being noticed. I thought 100 might be enough, but having gone over that number I realise there are still many artists I should photograph, so for a while longer I may continue the project.
It’s been an inspiring journey, not only do I have 100 great portraits of those who contribute to the cultural fabric of our nation, but I’ve also had 100 great conversations, seen great art, learned and made new friends. With my Canon 5Ds as a passport, I’ve been privileged to enter studios I never thought I’d get the chance to visit. I’ve seen some great places, some small, some in back bedroom and garages, all with unique personalities.
A selection of the portraits, about 40-45 of them, will be exhibited at a small gallery here in Glasgow at Stallan Brand Architecture + Design, in November and December this year, opening next Monday, 6th November. There are talks underway with a few other parties which may lead to further exciting news for the project and the portfolio, and in the coming weeks I’ll keep pursuing a few more artists I’d like to photograph, either with cardboard boxes on their heads, or without.
Artists of Scotland, by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert is on show from 6th November - 21st December (except 8th Dec), Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm. Weekends by appointment. Stallan Brand Architecture + Design, 80 Nicholson Street, Glasgow, G5 9ER. Exhibition supported by Street Level Photoworks, Scottish Contemporary Art Network and Greyfriars Art Store.
Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert grew up in Scotland, where on his 13th birthday he received the gift of a camera. A few years later he subsequently became a UK-based freelance photographer for editorial, corporate and NGO clients.
His work has appeared in magazines such as Time, National Geographic, Italian Geo, Le Figaro, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, and many, many others. For over two decades Jeremy has photographed for Greenpeace International, and for a decade he lived and worked from Tokyo, Japan.
Jeremy has exhibited his photography widely including at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the archive of his 3-decades of work was recently acquired by the University of St Andrews photography collection. His work has taken him to over 100 countries, and he twice traveled extensively through the Commonwealth as official photographer on Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay assignments.
See more work by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert