This year, there are lots of thoughts flying around about what it means to be Scottish. I'm English by birth, but I've lived in Scotland for nearly 23 years and I class myself as a Scottish artist. It's a strange mixture: this notion of feeling Scottish, but not being Scottish, and it's one that all immigrants have to live with.
Patriotism is something that I've always been intrigued by. I was a teenager in the cynical 1980's, so it was a very influential time for. The national front was on one side declaiming what they thought it was to be English, and the 'lefties' were on the other side, regretting everything England had done to the world (and the rest of Britain) for the last 500 years.
I veered towards the left's version, and by the time I left to study photography in Edinburgh I had very little patriotism for England. I still love to see the pride that Scotland, Wales and Ireland have for their countries, and I still wish that I had that pride too. So, even though I have a deep-rooted love of Scotland and Scottish culture, I will never have the same degree of in-your-bones patriotism that the Scottish-born have.
All this is a very longwinded way of saying that I love Scolawi explores the love that people have for their country. The project is about looking at the great things in life, and wanting to share those great things with a completely different culture on the other side of the world. My own artwork will be complementary to the community aspect, and will portray what I love about each country, both pictorially and culturally.
There is a lot of hate in this world, but there is also a lot of love. Hate and violence often comes about through fear of difference, and fear of the unknown. The best way I can find to combat this hate is to create links between the love.
It's a start.
It is a total chance that I'm doing this project in such a momentous year for Scotland. I originally planned to go out to Malawi in October 2013, but realised it would be cloudy and I need sun to take my pictures (October is the start of the rainy season). Sometimes serendipity happens, and it feels like the timing of this project is just right.