Author returns to St Andrews for final weekend of photography festival

Award-winning author Ali Bacon, who will be reading her stories created around the people in the calotypes of Hill and Adamson on September 9 at St Andrews Photography Festival.
Award-winning author Ali Bacon, who will be reading her stories created around the people in the calotypes of Hill and Adamson on September 9 at St Andrews Photography Festival.
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An author who studied in St Andrews returns to the town this evening (Friday, September 9) to add a fitting final chapter to the successful St Andrews Photography Festival, which ends this weekend.

Dunfrmline-born Ali Bacon makes the connection with words and images as she will be reading stories from 5.30pm at the Martyrs Kirk Research Library inspired on early photographs of St Andrews.

Her stories are based on the work produced by the partnership of pioneering documentary photographers Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill and the people seen in their photographs.

Ali studied at St Andrews University before moving to Bristol, where she now lives.

She came across the pictures while researching her 2012 novel, A Kettle of Fish.

“Between 1843 and 1848 they made more than 3000 calotype photographs, which was an amazing achievement considering the process had only just been invented and fraught with difficulties,” she explained.

St Andrews Photography Festival.

St Andrews Photography Festival.

She found the images fascinating and was inspired to write a series of short stories. The reading will be presented with some of the original illustrations and photographs from the University Special Collections

Ali added: “When I was an undergraduate in the 1970s I had no idea there was such a rich photographic heritage in St Andrews.

“It’s a great thrill to be coming back to Fife, where the story began and where the university is preserving the work of these photographers for future generations.”

Rachel Nordstorm, photographic collections manager at the university’s Library Special Collections Division and organiser of the Photography Festival, said: “Ali’s readings add an exciting new dimension to our programme of talks and exhibitions and will shine a new light on these photographers and their work.”

Haymaking, Soviet Republic of Georgia, summer of 1989. (Franki Raffles)

Haymaking, Soviet Republic of Georgia, summer of 1989. (Franki Raffles)

The festival has been created by the university’s Special Collections Division, BID St Andrews – the business improvement body created to support businesses in the town – and local businesses to celebrate the role and importance of St Andrews in the world of photography and engage with those who live, work in and visit the town.

BID Chairman, Alistair Lang, explains: “We are one of the most photographed and filmed towns in the world, yet few realise much of the technology we enjoy the benefits of today began with the work of a collection of photographic pioneers who lived and worked in St Andrews in the 1800s.”

Dr John Adamson is perhaps the most celebrated – a blue plaque adorns the wall of his former home in the town on South St, now The Adamson Restaurant. But many other names are to be celebrated for the role they played, including Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair, David Octavius Hill, Robert Adamson, Thomas Rodger and Sir David Brewster.

The first festival is being curated by the university library’s photographic collections manager Rachel Nordstrom and has included events and exhibitions focusing on the earliest days of photography in St Andrews as well as Scottish documentary photography over the last 175 years and contemporary photography.

For full details see St Andrews Photography Festival.