Stills is a centre for photography based in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. With over 40 years of history, we’ve got a lot of experience to share. Our exhibitions, production facilities and range of creative, educational opportunities allow anyone to discover, enjoy and understand photography.
STILLS CENTRE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
23 Cockburn Street
Scotland EH1 1BP
Stills was established in 1977. Since that time it has become a champion for the important and powerful role that the medium of photography plays in the world today. We are currently working to make our archive accessible for research, here are a few items that we’ve uncovered so far.
Creative Camera was a monthly fine art and documentary photography magazine published between 1964—2001. This edition featured work from the “Recent American Still Photography” exhibition at The Fruitmarket Gallery in 1976. The exhibition was organised by the Scottish Photography Group, which went on to become Stills. Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Harry Callahan and Garry Winogrand were only a handful of amazing photographers included in the show.
This exhibition book is from Angus McBean “A Darker Side of the Moon”, the first exhibition held at Stills in 1977 at our original location on the High Street. Angus McBean was a prolific theatrical photographer associated with the Surrealist movement. “The camera’s love of her face is entirely serious and magical, and the unreality of the composition – she rises like a goddess out of the earth, her perfection emphasised by classical sculptures on columns that recede over the sands towards a painted sky – is not just a joke. It is also a quasi-religious recognition that she is not, after all, like you and me but inhabits another, dreamlike world created by the adoring eyes of cinema-goers.” Jonathon Jones, The Guardian, June 2006
In 1978, Paul Strand’s “The Hebridean Photographs” was exhibited at Stills. This body of work, created in the 1960’s, documents Hebridean life, from people, to labour, to home-life, to landscape. We have a copy of this exhibition book in Stills’ eclectic, public-access, photographic library. “It may be unusual in an exhibition […] to include a small and seemingly alien group of images. We have assumed however that Strand’s earlier work may be unfamiliar to many people and that some brief introduction may be of value. Despite the changes of style and interest apparent in Strand’s work over the years, there is also an underlying consistency, an adherence to a creed established early in his career” Richard Hough, Stills Director 1978.
In 1982, Stills exhibited work by Man Ray, a famous Dada and surrealist artist. These objects display some behind the scenes happenings of how galleries operate; deciding where certain works are to be hung, and sending out press releases are still common practice today.
Did you visit our Jo Spence exhibition in 2016? This flyer from our archive shows that Stills already understood the importance of Spence’s work, way back in 1987. The “Women in Photography” event organised by Stills lists Jo Spence as a speaker alongside Val Williams, Grace Robertson and Maggie Murray. Sadly Spence had to pull out due to ill health, a final draft of the flyer reveals she was replaced by Dr. Roberta McGrath, an Edinburgh based photography scholar and lecturer.
This cassette is a recording of Paul Graham giving an artist talk in 1988 when Stills exhibited Graham’s Troubled Land series. In this recording he talks about his images and working practice as well as some practical tips and advice about making a living as a photographer.
“A Stuggy Pren” was an exhibition in 1994 which coincided with the release of a collaborative book between photographer Katrina Lithgow and poet Ivor Cutler. Featuring fascinating portraits of Cutler, taken by Lithgow, this exhibition elaborated on the dynamic collaborative relationship between both artists.
CREATIVE LEARNING MANAGER
Lewis Blackwell (Chairperson)
Moyra Diaz Limaco
As part of the Edinburgh Park arts strategy aimed at engaging a new generation of artists in Scotland, Parabola, the owners of the 43 acres of undeveloped land to south of the existing Edinburgh Park has announced that it has appointed photographer Andy Mather to undertake a year-long photography residency inspired by Edinburgh Park.
The residency will culminate in an exhibition at Mach 1, the iconic marketing suite designed by award-winning artist David Mach. The photography residency follows the recent announcement to commission Rachel Plummer to produce a poem in celebration of Mach1.
The focus of Parabola’s creative plan for Edinburgh Park is to create partnerships with leading cultural institutions in Edinburgh and to develop opportunities for emerging artists to make new work at Edinburgh Park. The photography residency is in partnership with Stills Gallery and the poetry commission was arranged in partnership with the Scottish Poetry Library. The commissions and residencies will be managed for Parabola by curator Matthew Jarratt.
Peter Millican OBE, founder and Chairman of Parabola said:
“As part of our arts strategy, Parabola is delighted to confirm that our first residency in photography will be undertaken by Andy Mather. Andy truly understood the brief and brings depth and understanding to portraying the unique space and our ambition for Edinburgh Park to be an inspirational place in the city.”
Commenting on the decision to appoint Andy Mather, Parabola’s Arts Consultant for Edinburgh Park, Matthew Jarratt commented:
“We are thrilled to be working with Andy Mather as part of Parabola’s arts strategy. The commitment of Parabola to work with emerging artists is being realised with the commissioning of Rachel Plummer and now the award of the residency to Andy Mather. Parabola’s commitment to the arts and creating new work is ensuring that Edinburgh Park remains an exemplar of design and artistic output.”
Andy Mather, added:
“I am keen to capture the relationship of Edinburgh Park to the city centre, to use my inquisitive nature to explore and experiment how best to document not only how Edinburgh Park will become a cultural destination and creative campus but also the logistics and mechanisms that will support the mission to redefine living and working in Edinburgh. “
As a charitable organisation Stills is committed to and conforms to various policies. Key policies can referenced below by downloading the the relevant pdf files.
Download Stills Anti-Racism Policy here.
Download Stills EDI Policy here.
Download Stills Environmental Policy here.
Download Stills Data Protection Policy here.
Green Arts Initiative
Here at Stills we believe in our responsibility to demonstrate best practice in the environmental sustainability of all our activities. In turn, we aim to inform and influence audiences, staff, stakeholders, suppliers and partners to adopt a responsible approach toward the impact of their operations on the environment.
We are proud to be part of Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Arts Initiative! One of many projects: In 2019 Stills library transformed into an urban green space. Members of the public were invited to learn about native wildflowers in our exhibition and participatory workshops.
Read more about The GreenRoom here.
Stills is part of Scotland’s Workshops – a network of 11 visual arts production facilities all across the country. The spaces give both artists and newcomers access to an amazing array of equipment, studio spaces and unique technical expertise to create and learn about art.
Nurturing the making of art that happens right across the land, the geographic reach of the network spans 6 local authorities in Scotland, from the Central Belt to Inverness and Lybster in the North. From sculpture to printmaking, photography and glassmaking, the 11 organisations that make up Scotland’s Workshops have a huge wealth of experience built up over decades since their creation began in the 1960s.
Read more about Scotland’s Workshops here.
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