Visit to Special Collections

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Last week Special Collections had a visit from the photographer and artistic researcher Lisandro Suriel. Born and raised in Saint Martin in the Caribbean, Lisandro earned his Bachelor’s degree in Photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague and received his Masters of Art by research in Arts and Culture: Artistic Research at the University of Amsterdam. Lisandro gave a talk as part of the St Andrews Photo Festival in the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews, as part of his 2019 Tilting Axis Fellowship.

Lisandro’s current project ‘Ghost Island: Exploring Decolonial Imagination’ uses the medium of photography to explore the complex history of politics, colonialism, as well as cultural memory, and imagination. He is exploring these intersecting areas through the 2019 Tilting Axis Fellowship, which this year focuses on the themes of Collections and Commissioning. The Tilting Axis Fellowship, which has its first iteration in 2017, grew out of meetings arranged by Tilting Axis, a cultural organisation whose mission is to rethink the conditions of the Caribbean as central rather than peripheral, fed by multi-generational voices. This iteration of the Tilting Axis Fellowship is supported by Glasgow School of Art, the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews, CCA Glasgow, LUX Scotland, Hospitalfield and curatorial duo Mother Tongue.

As part of this visit, we welcomed Lisandro and students and staff from Art History to view some of our photographic collections. The collections fed into the greater discussion surrounding Lisandro’s artistic inspiration and method of practice. Inter-relating themes of Scottish-Caribbean relations, identity, cultural history and tourism in the West Indies were reflected in a selection from our photographic collections.

Some of our collections on display

Specific elements on display included Stephen McLaren’s Jamaica: A Sweet Forgetting, a particularly evocative portfolio on the themes of post-colonial Caribbean. The series of photographs by Franki Raffles highlighted International Women’s Day 1989, Dominican Republic. A selection of albums from the Maitland Dougall Collection include a series of Victorian tourism photographs amongst the typical family portraiture of the time. Additionally, there was a series of Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair’s lantern slides from The West Indies as well as a recent reprinting of J. Valentine images to create a Portfolio on Jamaica.  

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