BELONG is a unique photographic essay created to accompany the announcement of the National Theatre of Scotland’s January to June 2015 Season. Working with the distinguished photographer Peter Dibdin, we met members of some of Scotland’s diverse communities. In seeking out the community members, we looked for synergies with the productions in our 2015 Season. While they were being photographed, we asked the subjects of the portraits to tell us a little about what it’s like to be part of a community.
“Tribes, families, clans and gangs have their joys and their challenges; we’ve taken that as our touchstone for our 2015 season of work,” says Artistic Director, Laurie Sansom. “In this diverse season we meet families ferociously fighting for survival, witness national loyalties challenged, confront cultural customs and observe a woman with no ties, recreating herself before our eyes. These are stories of communities under pressure from within, friends and family rallying round, and people making incredible journeys to escape and invent new identities. This year we hope you will join us to explore what it means to feel part of gang, or out there on your own…”
Amy Lawn, Jennifer Mackenzie and Campbell Kinnaird are members of the Glasgow Vampire Live Action Role Play Group.
The group drew back from their characters to tell us about their community. “I’ll take the fangs out because I don’t really have a lisp,” laughs Jennifer. “I was brought into the LARPing community by a friend.” It’s a story shared by all three.
Campbell was introduced to Live Action Role Play by a university friend. He has been involved with Glasgow Vampire LARP for five years and is now running the game. “We meet every month and I enjoy it for meeting like-minded people. There’s a lot of fun to be had in being behind the curtain. It’s great to get feedback from people enjoying the story I’ve been writing.”
“I wanted to get involved in LARP for years but never found one for me”, says Amy. “I was interested in getting into different characters. You can come and be weird for a few hours every month.”
Campbell adds “If you’re new to LARPing as a whole, there’s a lot of fun in diving into something completely different from yourself. It’s escapism.”
“If you’re part of one game you’ll hear about another going on in Britain,” they agree. “There are hundreds, if not thousands of LARPers.”
Actors Siobhan Redmond and Darrell D’Silva take a break during a photo shoot to promote Dunsinane. All part of a day’s work for an actor.
Siobhan has appeared as Gruach in many Dunsinane photo-shoots for tours across Scotland, England, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Russia. Darrell joined the cast as Siward on the 2014 tour and both are looking forward to joining the rest of the cast for US performances. It’s an unusual job that sees you taking your tea break in full medieval dress. The actors grab a refreshment and check smartphones as Old Govan Parish Church stands in for Scotland’s seat of power.
Mary and Alistair Johnston pictured in the Am Politician pub, Eriskay. They were born in Eriskay and moved to Clydebank. They return to Eriskay every summer.
Alistair says, “Mary and I were born in Eriskay. In 1944 we moved to Glasgow with my mother and father because of the lack of work. The fishing industry had died because of over fishing, so there was basically no work in Eriskay. Every summer we used to come back to my auntie’s house. At that time, in the early 50s we would come back here for work. We would look after the cows… cutting peat and carrying peat, cutting hay and carrying – very hard work.
Eriskay at that time didn’t have a pub. Occasionally, when we became teens, we used to go and beg the school master for the use of the school for a dance! And we used the old gramophone –it was probably one of those windup ones. That’s how I met my wife, Mary, during a holiday. Eventually we got married and built a house in Clydebank. We had six children.”
“They came with us here every summer,” says Mary, “and now they come as here as young adults and they love the place.”
Màiri agus Alasdair anns an taigh-seinnse ‘Am Politician’ann an Èirisgeigh. Rugadh iad ann an Èirisgeigh agus ghluais iad a Bhruach Chluaidh. Bidh iad a’ tilleadh a dh’Èirisgeigh a h-uile samhradh.
Tha Alasdair ag ràdh, “Rugadh mi fhìn agus Màiri ann an Èirisgeigh. Ann an 1944 ghluais sinn a Ghlaschu còmhla ri m’ athair ’s mo mhàthair air sgàth dìth obrach. Bha gnìomhachas an èisg air crìonadh mar thoradh air tuilleadh ’s a chòir iasgach, agus mar sin cha robh obair idir idir ann an Èirisgeigh. Bhiomaid a’ tilleadh air ais gach samhradh gu taigh m’ antaidh. Aig an àm sin tràth sna 50an, thigeadh sinn air ais an seo a dh’obair. Bhiomaid a’ coimhead às dèidh a’ chruidh … bhiomaid a’ buain mhònadh ’s a’ tarraing mhònadh, a’ buain ’s a’ tarraing an fheòir – obair glè chruaidh.
Cha robh taigh-seinnse ann an Èirisgeigh aig an àm sin. An-dràsta ’s a-rithist, nuair a dh’fhàs sinn nar deugairean, bhiomaid a’ falbh agus a’ guidhe don mhaighstir-sgoile leigeil leinn an sgoil a chleachdadh airson dannsa! Agus bhiomaid a’ cleachdadh an t-seann ghramafòn – tha mi a’ creidsinn gur h-e fear dhen fheadhainn sin a bhiodh tu a’ rothaigeadh a bh’ ann. Sin mar a choinnich mi ri mo bhean Màiri, aig àm saor-làithean. Aig deireadh gnothaich, phòs sinn agus thog sinn taigh ann am Bruach Chluaidh. Bha sianar chloinne againn.”
“Bhiodh iadsan a’ tighinn còmhla rinn a h-uile samhradh,” arsa Màiri, “agus a-nis tha iad a’ tighinn an seo nan inbheach òga agus tha gràdh mòr aca air an àite!”
Amy Anderson and Alasdair Gow. Amy is an Electronics Engineer and Alasdair is a Spacecraft Sales Engineer. They work at Clyde Space in Glasgow which makes small satellites called CubeSats.
“Some days can be spent testing finished products which have been assembled and designed here, just before they go to the customers,” says Amy. “Other days you could be pulling together schematics of a new design that could be developed.”
Alasdair’s day focuses on the customer-facing side of the company. “I talk to customers, I try to understand their technical requirements, and so if they need a satellite that has a pointing capability of 1 degree and needs to point at the Earth with that level of accuracy, I can discuss that with them. I’m in the front line, buffer, between the customers and the engineer team.”
“Clyde Space is quite a small company and we are quite tight knit,” adds Amy. “Recently the kind of community that has developed in my life is on Sunday mornings, when me and a few of the engineers here at work go for a Sunday brunch. Yes, so we have a little brunch community going.”
Olga Marchetti and Riccardo Cardosi. Olga was born in Glasgow to Italian parents and worked in the family’s fish and chip shop as a teenager. She prepared the fish, scrubbed the floors and served behind the counter. Olga then got a job with a make-up company aged 18. The family’s shop was closed during the war and the windows were smashed as part of the anti-Italian war feeling. After the war an Italian club was opened for the community to socialise.
Olga says “You could go there to have a wee dance and your father came with you! The men would play cards, have a wee glass of something and something to eat. It was lovely. I enjoyed it, loved it.”
Riccardo works in the family-owned Allan’s Snack Bar in Paisley, where they both are photographed.
Nina Murray, Fatou Baldeh, Sanaa Alsabag and Ako Zada. Nina works for the Scottish Refugee Council. She has been working on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) projects to gather information about FGM in Scotland. Fatou works for Dignity Alert Research Forum (DARF) where she creates awareness of FGM in Scotland. Sanaa works with Waverley Care African Help Project as an Employability Coordinator. Ako works with Community InfoSource where he is a director. Currently they are running a project working with men to raise awareness of FGM.
Katya Ermolaeva and Daria Freier. Katya is an American PHD student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland whose parents are Russian. Daria is an exchange student at Glasgow Caledonian University who grew up in Ukraine. They are photographed at a dinner party organised by Katya to bring together members of the Slavic community living in Glasgow to share food, language and culture in an informal environment.
Katya says “Here in Glasgow I feel part of the Conservatoire community, the music professional community, the Russian and Greek Orthodox community. And I’m also part of the salsa community.”
Daria says “It’s difficult to me to identify with only one community. I feel part of the community of our Russian friends here, but also the communities which unite me with my religion and with my studies.”
Passengers at Edinburgh Airport. Photographed in the foreground is Narkisha Gallagher, a Trading Company Manager for a theatre company.
Narkisha worked in many of Edinburgh’s restaurants before arriving at theatre. “The catering industry is like a really dysfunctional family. I think that people who are willing to work until three o’clock in the morning definitely have some rather eccentric traits.”
Watching the people pass through Edinburgh Airport though, she feels there’s more of a loss of community. “All these departures and arrivals,” she says. “I sense there is a different feeling… There’s so much people-watching”
Gerard Durkin is a storyteller. He mainly performs traditional oral stories. He travels across the U.K and Europe and has performed in nurseries and care homes to people of all ages. He is photographed performing stories to children at Bridgeton Library in Glasgow as part of Scottish Book Week.