Cowgate photo among old gems at Edinburgh art exhibition

With its squint windows, haphazard walls and ragged children, this vision of Edinburgh's Old Town is almost medieval.

Friday, 6th July 2018, 7:00 am
Curator of fine art Dr Helen Scott with a Cibachrome Photographic print by Maud Sulter, aritist and poet of Scottish-Ghanaian descent. Picture: Ian Georgeson

In fact the photo of Cowgate Port by Thomas Vernon Begbie was taken almost exactly 160 years ago, between 1857 and 1860, when the medium was still in its infancy.

Now more photos from the city archives highlighting life in the Capital in the Victorian era through to top-rated modern images by celebrated photographers are set to form the centrepiece of a major new exhibition in the city.

Other highlights include the ethereal photo of an unknown woman with her back to the camera taken by photographic pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson and an image of a dark-skinned woman with a white wig, Terpsichore, by celebrated Scottish-Ghanaian artist Maud Sulter.

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All three will be on show at the City Art Centre from tomorrow as part of a major new exhibition showcasing the very best of the centre’s extensive collection, charting the development of fine art photography in Scotland from the 19th century to present day, with many photos being shown for the first time ever. The exhibition’s curator Dr Helen Scott said: “This project has been fascinating to work on, not least because of the enduring potency of so many of the images.

Cameras are everywhere these days and you would think this might lessen the impact of photographic images, but the best ones still have the ability to stop us in our tracks.

“This is the first time in over a decade that the highlights of the city’s photographic collection have been displayed together in one place and it’s a great opportunity to remind ourselves of the magic of this art form.”

l In Focus: Scottish Photography runs from tomorrow until May 19 next year. The City Art Centre on Market Street is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm. Admission is free.