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'Let Glasgow Flourish' by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

1 February 2019

I’ve always marveled at the thought that walking down the street any one person you see has a multitude of experiences and stories to tell, you take that one person and the stories you could tease out of them, and multiply that by everyone in the street and then the city, the country. So many stories, so many nuanced versions of life all informed by different upbringings and experiences.

And so it is with political views, a multitude of nuanced political views abound, and this has never been more obvious than in the streets of Glasgow, and Scotland, over these past few years.

After a decade of photographing in Japan I moved home to Glasgow in 2012, knowing the referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom was going to be gearing up as we approached the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum date. I wanted to be back in the country to see it all, to experience it, and of course to vote.

I attended the rallies and marches of both sides, pro-Union and pro-Independence, trying to understand both sides of the argument, photographing it all, primarily for myself and distribution by my stock agency, photographing what we were told at the time was a ‘once in a generation’ referendum. For me, trying to describe in pictures the colour, energy and anticipation of what would come before us was the greatest challenge, but also the most rewarding part of the experience. It felt as if anyone in Scotland could have been there, on those marches. For both sides it was a peoples’ crusade: the divisions cut across race, class, gender and location.

Now four years on and not much has been settled; we’re still walking on daily-shifting sands of political information. A second Independence referendum continues to be a debated issue, and called for regularly by pro-independence campaigners, such as in this photograph from Bannockburn, when approximately 10,000 people marched, one rally in a regular series which took part across the country.

That independence referendum is still on a hand of cards yet to be played and for the time being kept close to the SNP’s chest. The political game of cards has seen many other hands played: the chaos of Brexit; Scotland welcoming refugees (as it always has) seeking asylum and the extreme minority Scottish Defence League staging rallies to espouse their hatred against them; at Faslane peace protestors continue to link arms and sing against Trident missiles which are still the true monster in the Scottish loch; and anti-Trump demonstrations taking place when the American President insults the people of Scotland, as elsewhere, with his below par versions of truth, except that Scotland is home to two of his golf courses.

There hasn't been a shortage of political theatre in the streets to watch, to listen to, and to photograph. Some views you can understand, some you wince at when you hear them spoken, but the one thing we can be proud of and take from it all, pro- or anti-, is that the people of Scotland are awake.

This picture and others from Jeremy’s series ‘Let Glasgow Flourish’, will be exhibited in the Document Scotland show ‘A Contested Land’ at the Martin Parr Foundation from 16th January until 16th March. After that the show will travel to Perth, Dunoon and Inverness throughout 2019.

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert grew up in Scotland, where on his 13th birthday he received the gift of a camera. A few years later Jeremy 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 others. For over a decade Jeremy has been one of the principal photographers for Greenpeace International. Between 2003-2012 Jeremy was based in Japan, but missing the raw Scottish weather, in 2012 he relocated back to his home country, where he co-founded the Document Scotland photography collective. As part of this collective Jeremy has in the past six years exhibited his photography widely including at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Jeremy's work has taken him to over 100 countries, from Antarctica to Zambia, and he has twice traveled extensively through the Commonwealth as official photographer on Commonwealth Games Baton Relay assignments. His personal and commissioned work, for which he has been the recipient of photojournalism awards, has been widely published and exhibited in Europe, Asia and USA.

See more work by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

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