Capital artist’s lens on Jacobite history

Calum Colvin, Pic:  Ian Georgeson
Calum Colvin, Pic: Ian Georgeson
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Edinburgh-based artist Calum Colvin will reveal the secret symbolism, riddles and puzzles behind his ‘Jacobites by Name’ photographic series at a free event at the Scottish Parliament this month.

He’s known for his own unique style of constructed photography, and brings together a mixture of painting, sculpture and imagery that has featured in collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Museum of Fine Art in Houston, The Tate Gallery in London and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Calum, who is also head of contemporary art practice at Dundee University, uses everyday objects juxtaposed with painted imagery to create a kind of visual dialogue – where layers of meaning are gradually revealed and themes of politics and belief are encountered in a dark and humorous manner.

His ‘Jacobites by Name’ series includes some of Scotland’s most famous historical characters such as Bonnie Prince Charlie, Flora MacDonald and Jacobite supporter Jenny Cameron. The Guy Fawkes mask, a powerful symbol that is still used in worldwide protest today, also comes to the forefront in many of his pieces.

Calum said: “I wanted to take a fresh look at the Jacobite Risings within the ‘Jacobites by Name’ series using a range of different types of contemporary techniques to bring the movement to life in the digital age.

“During the talk, I will explain the process of creation, the related research and the ideas behind my work. ‘Jacobites by Name’ explores the complex legacy and secret symbolism of the Jacobite Risings of 1715 and 1745 through a body of photographic artworks and objects, and reflects on the cultural alterity of Jacobitism in relation to wider Scottish and British national identity.

“Created from a basis of constructed stage-sets and painted with imagery alluding to the matrix of meanings embedded in this iconic historical period, the photographs aim to generate a nuanced semiotics of references and rhetoric, of riddles and puzzles, of ‘facts’ and beliefs that connote the multifaceted and lasting legacy of this defining moment in Scottish and British history.”

To make his photographic works, Calum often constructs a set in his studio and then paints images on to these three-dimensional objects. When seen through the lens of a camera, a two-dimensional image is formed that creates a powerful and striking photographic series.

During his talk, Calum will hold a Q&A session to discuss these creative techniques.The talk on 16 August by Calum Colvin is free and spaces can be booked in advance. ‘Jacobites by Name’ is on display from August 16 until 7 October.