Thursday, 19 September 2013

David Peat: An Eye on the World

Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh
September 27th-October 26th
When documentary film-maker David Peat, who followed Billy Connolly's 1976 tour of Northern Ireland in Big Banana Feet, discovered he had cancer, he decided to unearth his extensive archive of still photographs taken over a forty year period while on location around the world. These included early shots taken of children on the streets of the Gorbals in 1968, a theme which he applied with warmth and compassion to his subjects wherever they happened to be.

When a selection of these images was shown at Street Level in 2012, the same year of Pear's passing, it was named in this august organ as one of the best exhibitions of the year. Now expanded to embrace the full span of Peat's canon, this retrospective at the Dovecot coincides with the launch of a book of Peat's work that reveals a fascinating social document as well as the eye of a true artist.

“It's really two exhibitions in one,” explains Peat's widow, Trish Maclaurin. “David shot the early stuff in the Gorbals for a portfolio when he was trying to get into TV. Then there's the international lot, which, when he found out he had cancer, he selected from about 10,000 negatives. David always talked of wanting to leave a legacy, because he wasn't bright at school, and had a terrible time. Working on the exhibition has been good for me and the family as well.”

While she has lived with Peat's vast collection for most of her life, if Maclaurin had to pick a favourite image, it would be “one of a couple playing chess, and in the middle is a pigeon watching them. There's so much going on there, and people can get so many different things from it.”

The List, September 2013

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