Alex Boyd (photographer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alex Boyd
Photographer Alex Boyd.jpg
Celle, Germany

Alexander Boyd FRSA is a Scottish artist and photographer.

Life and work[edit]


Boyd holds an MA (Hons) in History of Art from the University of Glasgow in 2007, where he specialised in 20th Century German Art; and an MSc in Archival and Museum Studies from the Humanities and Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) from the same institution in 2009.[1]


Alex Boyd is a British artist best known for his conceptual and figurative landscape photography which explores concepts of Scottish identity through historical and contemporary romanticism, neo-romanticism, Romantic nationalism and Spirit of Place. His work is largely concerned with depictions of the Celtic landscape, conservation and remote places, and is often characterised by its stark, poetic and introspective qualities.[2][3]


Sonnets - Loch Lomond, platinum print, 2010

This is perhaps most apparent in his series Sonnets.[4] Based on the Rückenfigur (literally "back figure") paintings of German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich and the Besetzungen (occupations) series of images by Anselm Kiefer, Sonnets sought to critique sentimental and kitsch depictions of the Scottish landscape.[5] The series attempts to explore issues of Scottish national identity and its depiction in Scottish art, through depicting controversial historical locations such as Gruinard Island (a site of biological warfare testing) and Glencoe where the Massacre of Glencoe took place.[6]

Sonnets takes its name from a collection of poems by Scottish Makar (Poet Laureate) Edwin Morgan, who later collaborated with Boyd on the project.[7] Sonnets made headlines in 2008 when Boyd had several of his works projected 84 metres high onto Europe's largest building, the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest,[8] and covered the entire University Square as part of the "White Night in Bucharest" Festival.[9]

In March 2010 Boyd's work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Scottish Parliament Building, where it was celebrated in a Parliamentary motion.[10] American pianist Mike Garson paid tribute to the series in 2011 with a suite of songs directly inspired by Boyd's work,[11] and in 2014 the series was displayed at the Museum of the Image in the Netherlands beside Caspar David Friedrich's iconic painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog.[12]

Point of the Deliverance / Point a' Tarrthaidh[edit]

In 2012 Boyd was made a Fellow of the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, and travelled to Broadhaven Bay in Ireland to begin work on the images which would become Point of the Deliverance. The series documents a special area of conservation and the issues facing it due to the development of the Corrib Gas project, which resulted in the Corrib Gas Controversy. With an antique field camera, Boyd worked intensively for 3 months across the area, using the wet-Plate collodion process to document local people and landscapes, paying special attention to sites of archaeological and historical significance.[13] A labour-intensive process, using wet-plate collodion required Boyd to carry equipment over several miles of moorland, including chemicals, a darktent, and the camera itself often working in harsh conditions. Images from the series were exhibited at the Royal Ulster Academy, and have formed the basis for Mapping the Gàidhealtachd, an ongoing project to document the edges of the Irish Gaeltacht and the Scottish Gàidhealtachd.[14]

The False Land / An t-Saothair[edit]

Boyd was announced as the Royal Scottish Academy's Artist in Residence at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on the Isle of Skye in Scotland for 2012-13, a role which would see his work explore Scottish Gaelic culture and landscape. Working with acclaimed Japanese photographer Takeshi Shikama, Boyd made work focusing on the Cuillin mountain range and the Quiraing, as well as the clearance villages of Skye. The series also took Boyd to the Outer Hebrides, documenting the landscapes of Lewis and Harris as well as the remote archipelago of St Kilda. The resultant large scale prints were displayed prominently at the Royal Scottish Academy as part of their Resident 13 Exhibition in Winter 2013.[15]

The series takes its name from a causeway on the Isle of Skye, utilising a selection of historical processes to depict the landscape and highlight early artistic depictions and distortions of the Scottish landscape. Boyd used a series of antique drawing devices such as a black mirror and a camera lucida to make sketches, as well as drawing from memory. These drawings were then used as a basis from which to edit and manipulate photographic images also made at each location, exploring ideas of phenomenology, and questioning perception and authenticity in Scottish Art.[16]

The resultant images created distortions of the Highland Landscape, drawing their influence from artists such as William Daniell. A series of out of focus images made using broken camera lenses were also exhibited, and resulted in a collaborative project and book with poet Claire Trevien.[17]

Land of My Desire / Tir mo Rùin[edit]

A commission for the Year of Natural Scotland and Cape Farewell, a series of artists were asked to respond to the peatland landscape of the Isle of Lewis, celebrating the role which the blanket bog moorland plays towards global climate regulation.[18] Boyd spent several weeks working on and in the landscape, staying in Shielings at the heart of the moorland while recording archaeological finds, and learning about life on the moor from artist and resident Anne Campbell.[19] The resultant series of work Stacashal was exhibited throughout Scotland in 2013, most notably at the Royal Botanics in Edinburgh, and was made using the photogravure process, a tribute to the work of James Craig Annan one of Boyd's formative influences. Using compass bearings, Boyd shows the moorland from the peak of Stacashal, a remote hill in the centre of the island, a response to the work of Thomas Joshua Cooper who documented the extremities of the island.[20] A second body of work called The Isle of Rust (An t-Eilean Ruadh) was also exhibited, utilising rust from abandoned moorland machinery to produce images of Lewis using the collodion process.[21]

Current work[edit]

Currently he is working with a number of Scottish poets on a new series called 'Lowlands', and is the Artist in Residence for North Ayrshire, documenting the landscapes and riverscapes of Ayrshire and the Isle of Arran.

Film and television[edit]

In 2011 as part of the Glasgow Film Festival a short film 'Sonnets' about Boyd's work was shown at the GFT. In 2012 Boyd appeared in a BBC series about Victorian photographer Francis Frith alongside presenter John Sergeant, explaining and demonstrating the wet-plate collodion process at Stirling Castle.[22] In 2013 Boyd worked alongside notable fashion photographer Rankin discussing the work of early photographic pioneers Hill & Adamson on the ITV programme Britain's Secret Homes. Using the same Edinburgh studio used by Robert Adamson, a calotype portrait of Rankin was created by Boyd and Fionnbharr Ó Súilleabháin during a snowstorm.[23]

Other activities[edit]

In 2009 Boyd participated in Anthony Gormley's One and Other project in a collaboration with National Poet Edwin Morgan,[24] one of a number of collaborations with established poets such as Gerry Cambridge and Claire Trevien. Boyd has also worked with artist and composer Hanna Tuulikki on her project Away With the Birds for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, as well as providing album artwork for BBC Folk singer of the year Bella Hardy.[25][26]

Boyd has worked as a Museum Curator, and in 2012 was congratulated by the Scottish Parliament for his work in increasing access to heritage and archaeological objects in the South West of Scotland.[27] He was involved in the campaign for Scottish Independence, and was an early member of arts organisation National Collective, being named as one of their Cultural Ambassadors in 2012.[28] His images were included in the publication 'Inspired by Independence' with a body of work titled 'Shadow on the Landscape' examining the role of RNAD Coulport, home of the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent.[29] Boyd is a Fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, a member of Accademia Apulia,[30] and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.



Boyd's work is held by the following public collections:


Solo exhibitions

Group exhibitions

  • 2014 The Wanderer, Museum of the Image, Breda, Netherlands
  • 2014 Scottish Scenic Routes, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
  • 2013 Sea Change/Land of My Desire, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
  • 2013 Tir Mo Ruin, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
  • 2013 Resident 13, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh
  • 2012 Project 30: New Perspectives From Ireland, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2011 Accademia Apulia Awards Royal Horseguards, London
  • 2010 TULCA Arts Festival, Galway Ireland
  • 2009 Imagine 2009 EU Photography Awards – European Parliament Building, Brussels
  • 2009 Imagine 2009 EU Photography Awards – Swedish Parliament, Stockholm
  • 2009 Scottish Photographers – Lillie Gallery, Glasgow
  • 2007 Retro Future, Fulham Palace, London

Footnotes and references[edit]

  1. ^ [1][permanent dead link], Alex Boyd - University Education. Retrieved on 8 January 2015.
  2. ^ [2], Curator Malcolm Dickson - The 7th Streetlevel Open. Retrieved on 10 January 2015.
  3. ^ [3], Alex Boyd & Streetlevel Photoworks - Interview with The Skinny Magazine. Retrieved on 10 January 2015.
  4. ^ [4], The Arches – "Sonnets From Scotland". Retrieved on 11 September 2008.
  5. ^ Scottish Photographers Magazine (Autumn 2008). "Alex Boyd: Sonnets from Scotland pg.22".
  6. ^ [5], Alex Boyd - - Landscape Photography Magazine - The Sonnets.
  7. ^ [6], Edwin Morgan Official Site – Alex Boyd & "Sonnets from Scotland". Retrieved on 26 September 2008.
  8. ^ [7], The BBC- Art 'covers' Romanian Parliament. Retrieved on 26 September 2008.
  9. ^ Irvine Times, The (17 August 2008). "Display on Europe's largest building".
  10. ^ a b [8], Scottish Parliament congratulates Alex Boyd
  11. ^ [9], Mike Garson - the Sonnets.
  12. ^ [10], "Breda Photo Festival - The Wander - Caspar David Friedrich & Alex Boyd".
  13. ^ [11], The Morning News - Point of the Deliverance - Retrieved on 11 January 2015.
  14. ^ [12], BBC News - In the Irish Wilderness - Retrieved on 11 January 2015.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015., Royal Scottish Academy - Resident 13 Exhibition - Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  16. ^ [13] Archived 13 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine., National Collective - Documenting Yes / the False Land - Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015., Claire Trevien - Verse Kraken magazine - Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  18. ^ [14], Highland Print Studio - Sexy Peat - Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  19. ^ [15], Sexy Peat Blog - The Red Wind, Life on the Lewis Moor - Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  20. ^ [16], Science Magazine 2013 - Seachange Exhibition Review- Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  21. ^ [17], Leonardo - Glasgow University Seachange Review 2013 - Seachange Exhibition Review- Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  22. ^ [18], British Photo History – Alex Boyd on location
  23. ^ [19], Fionnbhar Ó Súilleabháin – How Boyd and I shot Rankin
  24. ^ [20], Scottish Poetry Library – Alex Boyd & Edwin Morgan
  25. ^ [21], Hanna Tuulikki - Away With the Birds
  26. ^ [22], Bella Hardy - With the Dawn Album artwork
  27. ^ [23], Scottish Parliamentary Motion S4M-04019 - Future Museum
  28. ^ [24], National Collective - Creative Ambassador Alex Boyd
  29. ^ [25], Word Power Books - Inspired By Independence
  30. ^ [26] Alex Boyd - Accademia Apulia Members Page
  31. ^ [27], The 2010 Dewar Award - Alex Boyd
  32. ^ [28], Creative Scotland Awards 2012 - The Nominees
  33. ^ a b c d Biography, Interview with Landscape Photography Magazine
  34. ^ [29], University of Glasgow: Manuscripts Catalogue - Portrait photographs of Edwin Morgan
  35. ^ [30], Alex Boyd - Exhibition at KMF 2014
  36. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015., Luminate Festival - Portraits of Experience

External links[edit]