FEATURE: Colin Mcpherson

As part of Fòcas India, we support projects celebrating all that connects Scotland and India. In the 1990s, photographer and founding member of Document Scotland Colin McPherson travelled to India to explore the historical – yet living – links it has with Scotland. The work he made there has never been shown before. With Fòcas Scotland, Colin revisited it, and we are delighted to present it for the first time here.

“The work made in India came about through conversations with a restaurateur and photographer in Edinburgh by the name of Herman Rodriguez. In 1994, I was planning a six-month journey around India, and was looking for people to contact who could give me valuable local knowledge about interesting places, people and subjects to photograph. It was through this informal network that I found myself in places with strong historical Scottish connections, the most visible signs of which were churches and other facilities formerly run and operated by the Church of Scotland. In post-colonial India, the Kirk still had a strong presence in the country, which lasted right through to the 1990s when the last missionary retired. I was lucky enough to meet the woman in question, Ishbel Ritchie, in Gangtok, Sikkim shortly before she retired back to her native Scotland. I photographed a number of different stories and features across India, from pilgrims in Varanasi (Benares) to the small Jewish community in Cochin, but the thread which ran through the whole trip was the connections back to Scotland. Upon my return to Scotland I exhibited images from India at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh, which was my first solo exhibition. None of the ‘Scottish’ images were included, so these are being seen in public now for the first time, albeit online.”

Colin McPherson, July 2016

Born in Edinburgh in 1964, Colin McPherson has been photographing in Scotland and abroad for a quarter of a century. He undertakes long-term projects alongside commissions and assignments for a number of newspapers and magazines and his work is published internationally and held in archives such as the National Collection. His photography has been featured in more than 30 solo and group exhibitions and in 2012, Colin was a founder of the Document Scotland photography collective.