INTERVIEW: Sandy Carson

Fòcas Creative Director Arpita Shah interviews Fòcas India shortlisted artist Sandy Carson, a freelance photographer working in Scotland and the USA, about his project Passing Place.

© Sandy Carson

 F: You made Passing Place over sixteen years. What made you first lift your camera to photograph your mother in this way and what made you continue?

S: I started making this work as it was pretty clear that I wasn’t coming back to live in Scotland permanently after being in the States for 8 years. I had not been back for a 3 year period and lost a chunk of my relationship and quality time with my mother, who was in remission from cancer. We talked on the phone religiously once or twice a week, but I wanted to make physical memories of any valuable time spent together whenever I came home, as time was flying by. Making a portrait of mum and the village helped with the feeling of disconnect across the miles and was the physical proof and reminder of another life and culture I grew up in. I photographed on most of the visits, usually once or twice a year which continued up until she passed, with more content made in the last couple of years.

F: Your Mum died exactly a year before you entered this project for Fòcas India. How did you find the process of editing your entry?

S: It was a pretty intense yet therapeutic process going through all my personal archives for the submission, scanning film and ephemera to create some sort of narrative or understanding of her passing. It also brought back a lot of fond memories from my childhood that I had forgotten about. I also realised that I hadn’t grieved properly since she passed and the editing process helped me reflect in a way I don’t think would have been possible without the photographs we made, or the family photos that mum left behind.

© Sandy Carson

F: The project is so close to you. What do you want to happen for it next?

S: It’s definitely my most personal work and probably the hardest one to put out there. I’m hoping to have closure on it by making some more images and wrap it up. I’d love to make a book or journal out of the project at some point, at least for myself and see where it goes with an exhibition.

Sandy Carson is a Scottish photographer whose long-term projects explore the sensitive cultural issues of consumerism and social landscapes with a scrutiny both absurd and poignant, a duality that is an intrinsic element of his work–born from the juxtaposition of disparate elements.

Sandy has exhibited both nationally and internationally. His first monograph on the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Paradise Has Relocated, was published in 2010. His new book We Were There is a symbiotic study of a decade documenting concert fandom as shot from the pit.