Diversifying the State Rooms of St Andrews University – but how?

Visitors entering the State Rooms of the University of St Andrews are currently confronted exclusively with oil portraits of the University’s past principals and chancellors. To diversify the exhibition, the University Museums and the School of Art History initiated a collaboration: students of the module “The Portrait in Western Art”, under the supervision of Dr Elsje van Kessel, proposed works to update the exhibition. This text is the shortened version of my proposal. I suggest adding seven photographs to the exhibition – six portraits of pioneers of early photography and one self-portrait of the photographer Franki Raffles (1955–1994). These objects are among the highlights of the roughly 30,000 prestigious photographs in the University museum’s art collection.

The first set of photographs shows prominent members of an intellectual circle of photographers and scientists in St Andrews, which developed under the leadership of Sir David Brewster (1781–1868), back then principal of the United Colleges of St Andrews University. Brewster knew William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877), the inventor of a photographic process called calotype, and encouraged his circle to master this highly complex process and to refine Talbot’s invention through collaboratively conducted experiments. Since Brewster persuaded Talbot that patenting his invention in Scotland would be unprofitable, the St Andrews community could experiment with Talbot’s invention for free. The calotype was also a matter of scientific publications. Many pioneers were members of scientific associations like the British Association for the Advancement of Science and the St Andrews Literary and Philosophical society. Most of these personalities held prestigious positions at the University. For instance, James David Forbes (1809–1868) succeeded Brewster as the principal of the United Colleges, Dr John Adamson was a doctor and chemistry professor (1809–1870), and Hugh Lyon Playfair (1787–1861) the University provost.

Images Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums

In contrast to these amateur photographers, other personalities were University alumni who decided to work as professional photographers – among the first world-wide! One of them, Robert Adamson (1821–1848), produced artistically important photographs in his Edinburgh studio in collaboration with the painter David Octavius Hill (1802–1870). A second photographer, Thomas Rodger (1832–1883), opened a purpose-built professional studio in St Andrews in 1849, nowadays housing the University’s Careers Centre. The selected photographs commemorate these pioneering figures and provide examples of early portraits produced with the calotype process.

Robert Adamson by David Octavius Hill & Robert Adamson
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums ID: ALB-24-2-2

I propose to juxtapose this set of photographs with a self-portrait by the feminist photographer Franki Raffles. Raffles, born in England, studied philosophy at the University ofSt Andrews starting in 1973. During her studies, she took a leading role in the local group of the Women’s Liberation Movement. As a member of this group, she fought against gender inequalities within the University and proposed radical changes to the movement’s organisation and aims. After her degree, Raffles taught herself the art of photography and worked in Edinburgh as a freelance photographer. In the 1980s and early 1990s, she travelled through Scotland and Asia to document the harsh realities of women’s everyday lives and thus raise public awareness of the everyday problems of women. In 1992, she led the “Zero Tolerance campaign”, a successful initiative against domestic violence. For this project, she designed posters including photographs of women in apparently normal domestic environments but bearing inscriptions indicating that these women were victims of abuse. Why is Raffles’ link to St Andrews important for understanding her art? Although Raffles was not yet acquainted with photography during her studies, in St Andrews she developed many of the feminist ideals which later pervaded her photography. On 17 October, photographer and St Andrews alumna Franki Raffles would have turned 67 years old.

Trip to Eastern Europe and Asia by Franki Raffles.
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: 2014-4-1699-6a

Raffles’ self-portrait would add another aspect to the display. It stands for female empowerment, as it depicts Raffles in the act of taking her own picture. As a result, she retains control over her identity and is not objectified. Furthermore, juxtaposing the portrait of one woman with those of six men would visualise the historical gender imbalance at St Andrews University. In fact, for centuries women were not accepted at the University as students, let alone as professors or principals. Likewise, the portraits of personalities from Brewster’s circle include only men. Although women actively participated in the early development of photography, they were forced into less prominent roles than men due to social conventions. For instance, they were active in scientific associations but could not become official members, and they often worked as assistants of male photographers without being acknowledged.

The proposed selection of photographs would also diversify the artistic mediums represented in the current exhibition. This would allow visitors to compare the oil paintings in the State rooms with the newly added photographs. For instance, Brewster would be shown in both media. Formally, the representations are similar, with Brewster sitting on a majestic chair, along with books symbolising his erudition, and holding glasses in his hand, a possible allusion to his scientific contributions in the field of optics. But there are differences too: Brewster’s individual characteristics stand out more clearly in the photograph than in the oil painting. At the time, calotypes were usually taken outside, where the sun provided enough natural light. As a result, photographs often featured a spotlight on the depicted figure, which here highlights the details of the sitter’s face and hands. Moreover, the portraits differ in scale. While the oil painting is large and majestic, the photograph is small and more intimate. The new medium would then also allow showing new facets of Brewster’s personality. In the current context of the State Rooms, Brewster’s oil portrait honours him in his role as a principal. In the context of other pioneers of early photography, Brewster’s portrait would commemorate his additional role as a scientific leader and promoter of photography.

The State Rooms are meant to represent the University. The proposed display would provide a more comprehensive picture of its history, indicating its pioneering role in the early history of photography. And why not enjoy the contrast between majestic oil paintings and intimate photographs?

Written by Francesco Alessandrini Lupia, 4th-year student in the School of Art History of the University of St Andrews

Hidden Histories

The University of St Andrews portrait collection was established to commemorate important figures in national and institutional history. However, a walk around Parliament Hall or the Senate Room, two of the University’s State Rooms containing the most venerable portraits of the collection, does not show the full story. Women were fully admitted to the University in 1892 and many figures worked hard to improve educational opportunities for women, but they are not on display and their histories are therefore hidden from the narrative. There is currently only one portrait of a woman on display, despite the fact that the University currently has a female Principal and Rector and sixty percent of the student population is female. How can we best diversify the collection and commemorate those who have made a difference?

‘Portraiture’ for most people brings to mind large, old fashioned oil paintings, an idea which the current display supports. However, it can be found in many more forms including in sculpture, photographs, banknotes and all over social media. As well as diversifying the people represented, it is important that the State Rooms better present the various forms of portraiture in the University collection, including photography and sculpture. I have selected three portraits which bring to light hidden narratives, depicting figures who worked hard to allow women a university education at both St Andrews and across the country.

Miss E. Garrett,
Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums

The portrait of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1862–63) was taken by photographer John Adamson and can be found in his Playfair Album of the 1850s and 60s. In 1862, Anderson matriculated to study medicine, but once the board found out she was a woman, she was no longer allowed to study at the University. Anderson did not let this stop her, going on to become Britain’s first female doctor and working tirelessly to improve opportunities for women in medicine across the country, co-founding the New Hospital for Women and the London School of Medicine for Women. Although Anderson has more recently been recognised by the University for her efforts, her story is still obscured by other important medical alumni such as Edward Jenner who invented the smallpox vaccine.

Anderson’s portrait also serves to highlight St Andrews’ important place in the early history of photography. John Adamson (1809-70) was overshadowed in history by his brother Robert, despite making Scotland’s first calotype photograph, a portrait, in 1842. His photograph of ‘Miss E. Garret’ uses motifs traditionally used in male portraits to show intellect, unusual at this time for a portrait of a woman. Anderson wears a plain, dark, button-down dress and holds a book, showing her desire to learn. In the background of the photograph sits a microscope on a wooden table, which she faces away from, just as she was refused an education. Importantly, she avoids any eye contact with the viewer of the portrait, showing her shame and frustration. Photographs create a stronger sense of truth than painted portraits and are more familiar to modern day viewers, who are constantly surrounded by photographs on social media.

Graduates in St Salvator’s Quadrangle,
Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums.

Other photos in the University archive commemorate women who, thanks to the efforts and determination of Elizabeth Anderson, were able to graduate from St Andrews. A photograph by an unknown artist shows a group of female graduates in St Salvator’s quadrangle (1896) and the woman on the left is likely Agnes Blackadder, the University’s first female graduate. Blackadder graduated in March 1895 and became a dermatologist before working for the Scottish women’s hospital during the First World War. Without Anderson’s rejection and determination, Blackadder and other women may never have been able to study at the University.

Professor William Angus Knight by Elizabeth Hean Alexander,
Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: HC196

The third portrait shows Professor William Angus Knight, LL.D. (1892) who became a professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews in 1876. Just one year later, he established the ‘Lady Literate in Arts’ (LLA) programme which offered university-level courses on a range of subjects and continued until 1931. Although the programme has been criticised for its distanced-learning approach, which made sure women would not mix with male students in classes, the programme was an important step towards female education. By 1892, women were allowed to study full time under an act of parliament and in 1896, the first female hall of residence in Scotland was built with funding from the LLA, University Hall. Knight also donated 139 framed portraits and eight portrait busts to the University collection which he believed would help to read students about the character of those portrayed, true also of his own portrait.

The artist, Elizabeth Hean Alexander (1862–1951), has left little trace in Scottish art history and shows determination at a time when it was still difficult for women to obtain artistic training. The State Rooms only have the work of one other female artist on display, Victoria Crowe, and once again her work is overshadowed by famous artists such as Henry Raeburn and David Wilkie.

Although the painting appears traditional, showing Knight’s power through his large body and direct eye contact, he is not intimidating, instead coming across as thoughtful and meditative with a relaxed pose. The artist has created visual unity through the red crest, book and drapery, the key symbols of the portrait. The crest in the background is the unofficial University arms used before 1905 and designed by St Andrews librarian, James Maitland Anderson. Including the crest in the portrait recalls the rich history of the University and ensures Knight’s place within this.

Both Elizabeth Anderson and Professor Knight were resilient and determined figures who sparked change at the University and throughout society. Including their portraits in the State Rooms would bring to light their untold stories and help the display to more accurately represent the current community’s beliefs and ideals.

Freya Irving, 4th-year student in the School of Art History of the University of St Andrews

A fish that makes memories

Tenualosa Ilisha (Ham Buck) BPM 1553 Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: BPM1553

“The Ilisha frequents the Bay of Bengal and the large saltwater estuaries of the Ganges, and in the rainy season, ascends the larger rivers to spawn. I have seen it as high as Agra and Kanpur, but so high up it is very rare. At Patna on the Ganges and Goalpara on the Brahmaputra, it is pretty common, but rather poor and exhausted. About Calcutta and Dhaka it is in the utmost abundance and perfection and is the richest and highest flavoured fish that I know.”

These are the words of Francis Hamilton, who was one of the first scientists to formally describe and identify this fish, which he called Tenualosa Ilisha, known and revered by generations of Bengalis as Ilish, the best and most delicious of fishes.

Hamilton describes the Ilisha’s scales as “oblong, striated, indented on the edges and easily rubbed off”. He writes that “the back and the belly are nearly equally arched and that the pectoral fins are much shorter than the head.” With the typical confidence of the 19th century colonial explorer and administrator, he is able to categorise and define the Ilish; he knows what it means.

As an expatriate Bengali member of the St Andrews community, however, for me it is a strange experience to see this fish presented here simply and uncomplicatedly as a zoological sample. The neatness and precision of Hamilton’s description and of the display here makes me think of the messiness of the Bengali fish market and suddenly I am ten years old again, holding my father’s hand, standing in front of the fishmonger as he slices off the fins and scales using the black curved blade known as a bonti.

The Ilish season is also the rainy season, so my father and I would go back home in the rain where the Ilish would be cooked, fried, steamed in banana leaf or poached in a mustard sauce. As a delicacy it would usually be saved for special occasions. So these memories are also family gatherings; loud, messy affairs full of so much fun. How different that sense memory feels to this poor, solitary, lifeless specimen in a museum display case.

Contrary to Hamilton’s easy confidence, objects and indeed fishes do not mean one thing, cannot be safely put into boxes and can always surprise you.

As for fishes, so for people. The landscape that Hamilton is describing has changed quite a bit since 1822. Calcutta and Dhaka are now separated by an international border. In 1947, Bengal was split into West Bengal, which became part of India, and East Bengal, which became East Pakistan in 1972. East Pakistan changed again to Bangladesh as new nations and new categories emerged in the form of national identities.

Reading Hamilton’s account of the Ilish traversing the length of the Ganges, caring not a jot for the national borders that would one day divide the people, is poignant in the way that he could not have imagined. For millions of Bangla Bengalis, like myself, whose family origins lie in what is today Bangladesh, but who have lived for 75 years in what is now India, the Ilish is so much more than just a delicacy.

Many Bengalis in their 80s and 90s still salivate at the memory of the fish they had eaten back home seven decades ago. No fish of today can compete with those memories. “What a taste,” they will say, “you young people have no idea.”

Hamilton might have complained about the innumerable small bones and that the fish is heavy of digestion, but for these old people, it sometimes feels like these memories are what keep them going. Because the memories are about much more than the fish. They are about home and belonging. About the helplessness of having one’s nation reorganised by someone else and against one’s will.

As I look at the specimen today, that is what I think of – of home and homelessness, about belonging and unbelonging. Uprooted as a family when we were forced to move westwards to Calcutta in 1947. Uprooted again as I moved further west to Britain in the 21st century. This fish reminds me at once of how far I have come and of what I have left behind.

Written by Dr Anindya Raychaudhuri, School of English, University of St Andrews

Why are we Re-collecting Empire?

Re-collecting Empire exhibition logo ©University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums

Empire has some tangled legacies. For some people colonial expansion brought glory, power and a great deal of wealth. For others it spelled disaster. And there were many people who occupied positions in between these two extremes.

These legacies are also still with us today, in street names, memorials, statues, and the buildings that surround us. If you look in your kitchen cupboards you’ll probably find products that became popular as a result of the British Empire’s expansion, like tea, chocolate and sugar. You’ll get a hint of it through who has power and influence today, and the power structures that usually dictate this.

You’ll also see these legacies in museums. In many museums some of the objects on display or in storage came to the collection from imperial or colonial contexts, legitimately or otherwise. These objects embody stories of peoples, countries and cultures who were subsumed into one empire or another. Some museums were specifically established to tell stories of empire, or to demonstrate the power of colonialists over the colonised.

Museums still perpetuate these legacies, and this can still cause hurt. The stories we tell about objects from colonial contexts can ignore or marginalise the voices of those who used or made them; the way objects are stored might be disrespectful to the originating culture. We might misunderstand an object completely.

Chinese Bell used in sacred and royal ceremonies, Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: ET1977.110

Some of these things are a result of how these objects were acquired, and how they have been studied and catalogued since then. In St Andrews the first University museum was established by members of the Literary and Philosophical Society in 1838, who filled it with objects from around the world. Some of the people who gave things to the collection had lived and worked in colonised countries, but the information they recorded about an object was often scant, saying little of what it was or how it was acquired. A bell acquired at this time, for example, is recorded in the Society’s minutes simply as “hand bell” from China; nothing else is said about how it was obtained, which part of China it comes from, or what its original use was. The truth is that it’s not a hand bell at all, but part of a much larger set played with hammers, and in sacred and royal ceremonies. Described as a “hand bell”, this object was reduced to being a curiosity, its cultural importance removed.

This lack of information makes responding to the legacies of empire that we find in our collections difficult. Nevertheless, we believe that it’s important to tackle those legacies. That’s why we have written into our strategic plan that one of our goals at the Museums of the University of St Andrews is to “tackle institutional legacies and work for a more inclusive and equitable future”. Re-collecting Empire is a central part of this. However, the exhibition is not the end of this process; rather, it’s a statement of progress and of intention, as well as a starting point for conversations that we need to have.

The Re-collecting Empire exhibition at the Wardlaw Museum is the result of a lot of careful thinking and consultation about how we tackle the colonial legacies in our collection. It’s one of our first attempts to explore these stories publicly and trial new ways of telling them, with the voices of those who have often been excluded at the forefront.

Behind the scenes the Museums team have been doing provenance research to better understand when, how and in what circumstances objects came into the collection – a painstaking but important step in tackling those legacies. We’ve been talking to different communities to know how we should store and display the collections, and what the stories we should be telling about them should be.

The exhibition is a part of the process. We will probably get things wrong, but we will learn from it, listen to our visitors, and improve so that we really can work for a more inclusive and equitable future. It is part of a wider programme of work within the University, and one that will continue after the exhibition closes, building on the conversations we hope to have in the coming months.

Written by Dr Catherine Eagleton, Director of Libraries and Museums, University of St Andrews

Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert: An insight into the artist’s mind behind our new photography collection

“You’ve got to know your boxes” I was once told by a photographer, meaning you’ve got to know what you’re photographing and what ‘box’ the images will go into. Then, once those boxes fill up, you may have the start of a project or a collection. The boxes could contain anything, portraits perhaps, or photographs of football culture, or images of shipbuilding, but in general for ‘boxes’ think themes.  

In late 2020 I contacted Rachel Nordstrom, then Photography Collections Manager at University of St Andrews, with a question about different types of boxes. I wanted to know about best practice for the archiving of negatives, of prints and contact sheets. What type of archival boxes should I be looking at to store negatives and prints in, and was there a best practice way of doing that, of listing the contents to those boxes? How does one turn one’s collection of images into an archive? I thought if anywhere knew, it’d be the University of St Andrews where they’ve been collecting photography since its birth in 1844.  

A black and white photo showing a woman in a coat and head wrapped in a scarf waiting inside of a bus shelter. A young man wearing light pants and a dark jacket is waiting outside on the right. A statue of rhinoceros stands on top of the shelter.
Scotland © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

My own collection of photographs that I’ve taken dates back roughly to 1988, from my college years in Glasgow where I studied photography, and from trips in summer vacations to the Middle East. Those were my first footsteps in photographing and travelling, and from those travels I began to think I could use photography as a tool to let me explore our world. Never did I think it would lead me to the adventures I’ve since had. 

A black and white photo showing two men in a shipyard looking at the belly of a large ship. Other workmen are in the background.
Kvaerner shipbuilding yard, on the River Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland, June 1993 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Over the following 30+ years until now I’ve been fortunate that my photography career has been kind to me and it’s taken me around the world to multiple countries, where I’ve been afforded opportunities to meet people from all walks of life, from the man in the street down on his luck to royalty, from cultural icons to household names from the world of business, and not only in the UK but with opportunities to gain insights into cultures the world over. And all the while I was photographing it all, documenting it all, hoping one day it would find a home. 

This has led to a large collection of photographs, many taken on assignments for newspapers and magazines, corporate and NGO clients, but also many taken on self-initiated projects. Overall, my collection of photographs now sits at roughly one million digital images, that’s the RAW shoots, edited down it’d be far less of course. And, from the earlier days of my career there are the thousands of rolls of negatives, with accompanying contact sheets, prints, and tear sheets of much of the published works.  

Colour photograph shows a woman holding a baby. The pair are facing to the right, walking away. They are in front of a wall which has 'Count your blessings' written on it in blue paint.
201010 Indonesia, Citarum edit, October 2010 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

With the opportunities I’ve been afforded, the moments I’ve witnessed, there comes a certain responsibility to then care for the resulting images. What use are they if they sit in my office, unseen? I owe it to the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, those who offered me glimpses of their lives and let me photograph, to tell their stories, to share the resulting photographs with others. If others then find merit in the work, then perhaps it will all mean something, perhaps the photographs can help break down barriers across the world between differing peoples and cultures.  

To share those images also carries the responsibility of looking after them, making sure the prints won’t get torn, the negatives won’t curl, and fade and the hard drives of digital files won’t get corrupted. Was keeping them in my office the best place, or would they be better placed in a facility geared and aimed towards best archival practices for photography? A place such as the temperature controlled archival facility at University of St Andrews. 

As Rachel Nordstrom and I discussed boxes, and archiving workflows, we began discussing the housing of my collection within the University’s prestigious collection of photography of Scotland, and of the world by Scottish photographers. We both felt it would be a natural fit.. There was cross over between some of the projects I’d worked on and work already within the University collection, thus adding to the research and educational potential for all the work.  

Importantly for me the scale of the St Andrews collection, and of their aims and ambitions for their collection, also fitted with my desire to keep all of my archive in one place. I had no desire to split my work up amongst varying institutions who would take one project, or two, but ignore the rest. I felt there would be merit in keeping it all together, thus a more rounded portrait of a working photographer’s life and career could be utilised by those who wished to view it, to hopefully find merit in it and the imagery and information it contained.  

Bringing order to my collection was first and foremost, but during Covid pandemic lockdowns it was a good use of my time, sorting, annotating, adding information, and bringing enough order to the work that it would be in a position to be understood by others. I always hoped my archive would be acquired by an institution, but I imagined it 20 or 30 years from now, at the end of my career. It’s been a little surprising it has happened now, but I think all parties are all the better for it.  

Now, as the University works with my photography and uses it for the common good and educational benefits, I’m on hand to add information, to answer questions when they arise. I get to see my work utilised, and we get to collaborate to jointly extrapolate more worth from that which I have photographed. Importantly I also don’t have to burden my family with looking after it all, making sense of it all, should something happen to me.  

A black and white photo showing an elderly woman in traditional Romanian costume retells stories  to her granddaughter, sitting next to her on the left.
Talia Mihai, mother of the chief of Sintesti camp, tells stories to her granddaughter Garoafa, inside the family tent in the Kalderash Roma camp of Sintesti, near Bucharest, August 1994 © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert

Now that my collection is housed in St Andrews, birthplace of Scottish photography, I feel slightly freed up to look forward more easily to all the things I’m yet to experience and photograph. The sorting of my collection this past year or two involved a lot of glancing in the rear-view mirror, and while the work is undoubtedly now in a better place for it, looking back too much can bring certain feelings of nostalgia or melancholy perhaps – one side effect of preparing the archive that no one warned me about was the emotional aspect of looking back over it all. But perhaps that is a topic for another blog post.  

For now, let us jointly celebrate that my archive of photography has joined the already important and impressive archive the University has built. I look forward in coming times to exploring my work with the researchers and academics, teachers and students, and perhaps in further blog posts I can share the stories behind some of that which I’ve photographed, the cultures I’ve seen and the people I’ve been most fortunate to meet along  the way and who graciously let me photograph their lives. The celebration of the archive is primarily the celebration of the stories of all these people, without whom there would be no photographs, and no archival boxes to fill.   

Written by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert © Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert 2022. 

King Kenny!

For the first time since 2019, St Andrews University will be hosting in-person graduations. To mark three whole weeks of graduations – covering not only graduates from 2022, but from 2021 and 2020 as well – many high-profile names will be receiving honorary degrees.

Sir Kenneth Dalglish MBE will be one of them, receiving an honorary degree on the 21st of June in the Younger Hall in St Andrews.

Kenny Dalglish was one of Scotland’s greatest footballers, achieving great success at both Celtic and Liverpool in the 1970s and 80s, he then went on to manage both clubs. Aside from his glittering footballing achievements domestically and internationally, he is also known for his charity work, most notably founding The Marina Dalglish Appeal to help raise awareness and money to treat cancer.

With the excitement of graduation and what the future holds for our graduates, the University of St Andrews Boswell Collection of Contemporary Scottish Art offers a look back to the 1980s – to Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool and Scotland heydays.

Dalglish Round Neck Merino Jumper with Cream Silk Shorts (2015) by Atelier E.B (Beca Lipscombe and Lucy McKenzie), ©Atelier E.B

As the title of this artwork suggests, Edinburgh-based design company Atelier E.B. – artists Beca Lipscombe and Lucy McKenzie – were influenced by Dalglish’s Scotland career and of the male-dominated footballing culture of the 1980s. At the same time, by putting their own mark on the famous Scottish strip, it becomes markedly more striking as a commentary on gender, fashion, and representation.

Replacing the traditional shorts with cream silk shorts offers the viewer to think about the disjunction between womenswear and football wear, and how this plays an unconscious role in the suppression of women’s football from the cultural norm. By only very slightly turning one item of clothing, it turns ‘strip’ into ‘outfit’, ‘kit’ into ‘costume’; it instantaneously removes its male-dominated sportily function, rendered useless by the viewer’s unconscious bias.

In addition to this, the pixelated badge is a subtle yet intelligent way of casting light onto the censorship of women’s football in Scotland and in the UK in general through the 20th century.

From 1921 until December 1969, women’s football was banned by the FA. In the space of two years after the ban lifted, UEFA realised the pace at which women’s football was growing (much thanks to the efforts of England in the 1966 World Cup), and its governing bodies voted to create official status of women’s football in national associations (voted 31 for and 1 against, the sole vote against by Scotland).

Since 1971, the FA has reluctantly been handing over more opportunities, money, and interest into the women’s game – a sentiment of reluctance that reached into popular culture with the 1980 movie production of Gregory’s Girls: a naturally gifted striker who outshines her male counterparts despite the sexist misgivings of her coach.

Thankfully, the women’s game has come a long way since then, but there is still some distance to go before it reaches the popularity and fame that footballers such as the famous Kenny Dalglish – King Kenny – experienced as a player.

He remains a beloved figure of Scottish football, recognised for his achievements and charitable efforts on and off the pitch, and on the 21st of June with an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews.

Written by Struan Watson, Visitor Services Facilitator and Collections Assistant with University of St Andrews Museums

People, place, past: How photographers explore identity

Over the next two years the nine works in the groundbreaking Significant Others series of annotated photographs by artist, poet and all round polymath will be rotated at the Wardlaw Museum.

Throughout history, art has been used to express, whether it was to recreate what one was seeing in a landscape, portrait, or still life, or to create something completely new like artists did during movements like Dadaism or Surrealism. Artists have taken their chosen mediums and used their work to convey messages, and many have taken the brush, pen, or camera to represent themselves and their identities.

Black and white photograph shows a young black girl in white dress holding the hand of an older white lady in white shirt and black jacket. The pair are facing forwards.
Maud and Elsie from Maud Sulter’s Significant Others series. The series uses enlarged family photographs in annotated frames to explore Sulter’s identity.

Maud Sulter did just that; she reflected her identity and her experiences in every facet of her work – photography, poetry, curating, and more. Despite the unique qualities of her work, Sulter was certainly not the first to do such a thing; there is a history of photographers representing parts of their identities, either their personal identity or something larger, like communal or cultural.

Hugh Mangum

A relatively lesser-known, self-taught photographer working and living in Jim Crow era South-Eastern United States, Hugh Mangum’s (1897-1922) work offers a beautiful insight into the identities of the people of the United States. Mangum was a traveling portraitist working primarily in North Carolina and Virginia in the shadow of the segregationist laws of the time, and he welcomed his racially and economically diverse clientele into his temporary studios.

The rediscovery of his work in the 1970s brought an astonishing collection of anonymous portraits of people from the American South at an extremely tempestuous time in the country’s history. The glass plate negatives feature multiple images, a sign of the frequency of his work and the building of relationships between figures that were unlikely pairings. As art historian Deborah Willis stated, his photographs “show us lives marked both by notable affluence and hard work, all imbued with a strong sense of individuality, self-creation and often joy.”


Born Gyula Halász, Brassaï (1899-1984) was a Hungarian-born French photographer, known primarily for his dramatic photographs of Paris at night. Brassaï was passionate about exploring his beloved city of Paris. In the early stage of his artistic career in Paris, Brassaï disliked photography, but found it necessary for journalistic assignments and eventually found unique aesthetic qualities in the medium.

Brassaï began photographing the streets of Paris at night, dimly lit and seemingly desolate – very different from the Paris that was known during the day. Even with a lack of human subjects, there is a quality to Brassaï’s work that brings out the appreciation of a city that held his life and did the same for so many others. His post Second World War work, focused on a city rebuilding itself, emphasises the importance of place and refuge in one’s identity.

Ingrid Pollard

Ingrid Pollard (b.1953) is a British media artist, photographer, and researcher. Throughout her work Pollard has created a social practice concerned with representation, history, and landscape with reference to race, difference, and the materiality of lens-based media – similar to values of Sulter’s work. Yet Pollard has a completely distinct portfolio.

In the 1980s, she was part of a group of British artists, including Lubaina Himid and Maud Sulter, who championed black creative practice, showcasing her work in group exhibitions such as The Thin Black Line at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1985). Pollard’s work uses portraiture photography and traditional landscape images to explore what she believed to be social constructs, such as Britishness or racial difference. In much of her photography, Pollard references how the past has directly influenced what it means to be black in Britain through colonial connections—working the past into the present to reflect either her own or a familiar group’s identity and how it came to be.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman (b.1954) is an American photographer who works primarily in self-portraiture, depicting herself in various costumes and identities to make herself virtually unrecognizable. Sherman’s breakthrough series is considered to be her “Untitled Film Stills”, 70 black-and-white photographs depicting Sherman in stereotypical female roles in film.

In the 1980s, Sherman’s self-portraiture evolved to be a bit more extravagant. Sherman began using makeup, costume, lighting, and facial expressions to completely transform herself. Sherman conceals her identity while simultaneously being the star of her entire career. The photographs bend what we associate with identity—clothing choices, makeup, mannerisms, and more, things that make everyone an individual. Sherman studies these and imitates them in order to completely alter her own identity. Without the knowledge of who Sherman is and her practice, a large number of these photographs could deceive an audience.

Each of these photographers above explore identity in different ways – changing themselves, capturing their surroundings, or photographing their communities. How do you explore your identity through creativity? Is it through photography like Maud Sulter and these artists, or maybe writing poetry, or even something completely your own?

Written by Samantha Hillsman, a Masters student in Museum and Gallery Studies and part of the group who have curated Maud Sulter: Portraits of a Family Tree at the Wardlaw Museum.

Redefining the Legacy of William Scheves 

Most people do not know the name William Scheves, despite the fact that he was one of the most powerful men in Scotland in the late 1400s. Those who are familiar with the name may simply associate Scheves with his failed political career and his fateful friendship with the unpopular King James III. However, there is much more to Scheves than this maligned story would have it.  

Scheves was a true Scottish renaissance man with a great passion for both science and academia as well as arts and culture. As a leading Scottish intellectual in the 15th century, it is unsurprising that Scheves held deep connections to the town of St. Andrews. Scheves studied at the university during the 1450s and served as archbishop of the town from 1479 to 1497. In the period between his studies at St. Andrews and his tenure as archbishop, Scheves ventured abroad to continue his education, most likely ending up in Leuven, in modern-day Belgium.  

While abroad, Scheves’ education focused primarily on medicine and astronomy. When he returned to Scotland in the 1470s it was this medical training that enabled him to secure a position on the royal court, acting as a physician to King James III. The young king greatly favored Scheves and went so far as to instigate the removal of the then-archbishop of St. Andrews in order to appoint Scheves as his successor. Thus, Scheves reached the peak of his political career as both one of the king’s closest confidants and the new archbishop of the most important church in Scotland.  

Image 1: Illustration of King James III of Scotland, friend of William Scheves 
Public Domain License https://www.worldhistory.org/image/13277/portrait-of-james-iii-of-scotland/  

However, Scheves’ rise to power angered many. At the time King James was criticized widely across Scotland for his tendency to appoint his favorites to key positions of command, over better-born and perhaps more qualified noblemen. As it was rumored by many that Scheves was an illegitimate child of non-baronial blood, his rise to archbishop was nothing short of scandalous. In 1482, Scheves’ opponents attempted to remove him, citing his low birth status and lack of experience. While this operation failed, Scheves’ political career eventually came to a downfall six years later when King James III was killed in a battle against rebel Scottish forces, led by his own son. With the death of King James, Scheves subsequently found himself expelled from both the church and the state.  

While Scheves’ legacy is often characterized by his political rise and downfall, this story fails to acknowledge his contribution to art and culture. The bronze medallion pictured below exemplifies Scheves’ active engagement with the arts. 

Created by well-known Flemish artist, Quentin Metsys, the medallion was commissioned by Scheves when he visited Rome in 1491. While the artist Quentin Metsys is better known as a painter (and a famous one at that, with numerous paintings in leading museums like the National Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art) he was also known to practice metalwork. Fellow patrons of Metsys’s medals included prominent intellectual figures like Desiderius Erasmus, a famous Dutch philosopher and one of the leading academics of the northern Renaissance. The design of the medal itself was inspired by traditional Roman medallions reserved for celebrating important leaders in the Roman empire. As Scheves was depicted by such an acclaimed artist in the same manner as distinguished leaders and scholars, the medallion symbolizes both his esteemed status as an intellectual as well as his awareness of greater artistic and cultural trends across Europe. 

Image 3: Illustration of Flemish artist Quentin Metsys, the artist who created Scheves’ medal 
Creative Commons https://bit.ly/37hgVKK 

Scheves’ connection to artistic and intellectual circles in Europe is further illustrated by his extensive book collection. More than forty books bearing Scheves’ signature survive to this day, giving an impression of just how large and significant his collection was.  

While Scheves is often looked down upon due to his association with King James III, this portrayal is ultimately unfair to his life’s greater work. As a physician, politician, clergyman, art patron, and intellectual, Scheves embodies the quintessential Renaissance man with his interest in both science and the liberal arts. Scheves’ embodiment of Renaissance ideals is particularly notable because at the time, Scotland was not widely associated with the Renaissance. Up until recently, the idea of the Renaissance as a cultural movement was often limited to Italy while Scotland and the rest of the northern region were afterthoughts within popular conception. However, Scheves epitomizes how Renaissance ideals spread beyond Italy into the Northern regions during the latter half of the 15th century. As a man that was ever learning and engaging with the contemporary issues and intellectual trends of his day, Scheves effectively marks himself as part of the often-overlooked Scottish renaissance. This embodiment of Renaissance ideals suggests that Scheves should ultimately be regarded as a figure of Scottish national pride rather than neglect and disdain.  

Written by Cally Wuthrich, University of St Andrews student and volunteer with University Museums.

Cult, Church, City: The Cult of Andrew 

In the Wardlaw Museum, there stands a carved oak statue of a man bearing a diagonal cross. The wood is elegantly worked, with curves hollowed out to form delicate drapes of cloth, and the piece has been oriented so the grain suggests wrinkles on his tired, downcast face. The man is Saint Andrew, carrying the cross he died on. 

Image shows a wooden statue of St Andrew, he is carrying his cross under his left arm
Image source: National Museums Scotland 

Over the centuries, many people have looked at this carving, just as you are now. However, instead of standing alone behind glass in a museum, it would have stood amongst other religious objects, as part of a screen or altar display for the cult of Andrew, a system of devotion which venerated Andrew the Apostle – the first disciple to be chosen by Jesus, and Peter the Apostle’s brother. Although it may have started as a way for Christians to pay respects to one of their religion’s most important founders, the cult has meant different things for different groups of people. Over time and place, it has been a driver of economic development, a bestower of power, and a promotor of community spirit and brotherhood. 

The cult’s role as a driver of economic development can be seen here in St Andrews. During the medieval era, pilgrims flocked here to see Andrew’s relics. They came from all around Europe, meaning that they were travelling long distances and required convenient transportation, leading to fording bridges and founding ferry services so that they could cross the Firth of Forth. This travelling also took a long time, resulting in a string of inns which provided food and shelter for weary pilgrims heading to and returning from St Andrews. Once in the town itself, the pilgrims would want tokens such as pilgrim badges as proof that they had made a pilgrimage, and to absorb some of the relics’ healing powers to take back home. This encouraged a bustling market with skilled craftsmen that could produce those badges, as well as anything else a pilgrim could need. 

Towards the later half of the medieval era, the cult also brought economic development via an influx of students, who came to study theology and law before taking up positions in the church. Although the cult is much less religiously important today, its economic legacy lives on – in the last academic year alone, tuition fees for every student at the University added up to £121.9 million.  

The University also allowed the cult of Andrew to play the role of bestower of power. Medieval towns and cities in Europe founded institutes of higher education to display their wealth and importance, which in turn helped legitimise their country’s right to self-governance – how could a nation be trusted to rule itself if it couldn’t educate its own people?  

Though universities are not quite so rare these days, there are other ways in which the cult has been used by recent governments to legitimise themselves. In the 1980s, Romania’s first president, Nicolae Ceauşescu, wanted to prove that his Communist government could measure up to the old monarchy, which had ended in 1947. He did so by emphasising Romania’s history of Christianity. 

According to official church history textbooks, the ancestors of Romanians had been evangelized by Saint Andrew himself. While travelling through Dobruja in the winter, he took shelter from the elements and wild animals in a cave. Desiring water, he struck the ground with his staff, and a spring sprang forth. Its waters had healing powers, which he used to heal the local Romanians, thus converting them to Christianity.  

Ceauşescu pushed this rendition of history to support his claims that Romanians were the first people to occupy Romania. Thus, they owned the land, and had the right to rule over themselves, via a president that they elected – him. However, Ceauşescu only allowed the people to govern themselves in the way someone agrees to a request when a gun is held to their head. Eventually, in 1989, they seized the right to self-rule in its rawest form: a revolution, culminating in his execution. 

Ultimately, Ceauşescu failed to abuse the cult of Andrew to feed nationalism and instill a sense of superiority in his people. But elsewhere, the cult of Andrew has been a promotor of brotherhood with communities both local and global, while still encouraging the expression of national identity.  

The use of Saint Andrew as a symbol of national pride might be most familiar from expressions of Scottish identity – after all, he is Scotland’s patron saint, and his cross is emblazoned right across the Scottish flag. This is especially true when the proclamation of Scottish identity is an act of defiance against those who seek to quell it. For instance, the famous Scottish rebel William Wallace’s battle cry was “Saint Andrew mot us speed!”, meaning “May Saint Andrew support us!” 

This was true outside Scottish borders as well. As globalisation occurred, Scots took their culture and their cult with them, establishing societies in the name of Saint Andrew wherever they went, like in my home country of Hong Kong. But rather than using these organisations to insulate themselves from the international community, these organisations were often charities that helped the needy. A notable example is the St Andrew’s Society of the State of New York, which was founded by Scottish immigrants to the USA in 1729, making it the oldest charity in New York. 

However, Saint Andrew does not belong exclusively to Scotland and the Scottish diaspora – Ukraine and Russia also view him as a symbol of national pride and claim him as their patron saints. This stems from a legend about his travels, documented in The Tales of the Bygone Years

According to the Tales, Andrew was travelling to Kherson from Sinope (in modern-day Turkey), when he realised he was close to the Dneiper. He followed it upstream until he reached some hills, whereupon he stopped, prayed, erected a cross, and told his followers, “See ye these hills? So shall the favour of God shine upon them that on this spot a great city shall arise.”  

Eventually, a great city indeed arose: Kyiv. It was almost as if Andrew had seen the future (or rather, as if the authors of The Tales of the Bygone Years had manipulated their past to have a wondrous origin). At the time, there was no Ukraine or Russia. They were all one people – the Kievan Rus – and Kyiv was their capital city.  

Though the Kievan Rus were later fragmented into parts that would someday become the two separate countries, due to a Mongol invasion in 1240, their shared history gives Ukrainians and Russians a special brotherhood that some still acknowledge. Perhaps it can last as long as Andrew’s brotherhood with Peter, still going strong after two millennia: in 1969, Pope Paul VI received Cardinal Gordon Gray at Rome, to give him part of Andrew’s skull as a replacement for the relics that had been destroyed in St Andrews during the Reformation of 1559. Standing in St Peter’s to welcome the first Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh since the Reformation, the Pope simply said, “Peter greets his brother Andrew.”

Coming back to the museum, perhaps the expression on Andrew’s face makes a little more sense. All the roles that he and his cult have played, and continue to play, must make up a burden infinitely heavier than the cross at his side. Yet he still bears his cross; still marches on, a symbol of brotherhood and pride in one’s identity even in the face of adversity.  

Written by Patsy Ng, 2nd year student of Computing Science at the University of St Andrews and volunteer with University of St Andrews Museums.

Medieval Pilgrimage to St Andrews  

When walking down Market Street on a busy afternoon in St Andrews, a myriad of different languages can often be heard. While it may seem surprising for a small town in northeast Fife to have such a global population, in actuality, this international demographic has been central to the story of St Andrews for centuries. Today, most people are attracted to the town because of the university or golf course, however back in medieval period, visitors were drawn to the town for a different reason: that being pilgrimage.  

A pilgrimage is a journey taken to express spiritual beliefs and devotion. In the Middle Ages, it was common for both men and women to embark on pilgrimages to sites of religious importance in an effort to absolve themselves from past sins and thus ensure their entrance to heaven. From the early twelfth century onwards, the town of St. Andrews was one such holy site that pilgrims flocked to for one specific reason: to revere the relics of Saint Andrew himself.  

According to legend, the bones of Christ’s apostle, Saint Andrew, were carried to Scotland from Greece by the monk Regulus in the 350s. The far more likely story is that the relics arrived in St Andrews from northern England centuries later. While the relics only included three fingers, a kneecap, upper arm bone, and a tooth, this was enough to put the town on the map as a site for international pilgrimage as relics from Jesus’s twelve disciples were extremely rare in northern Europe in the twelfth century.  

Image of Saint Andrew whose relics transformed the town of St Andrews – Saint Andrews the Apostle Icon Creative Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St_Andrew_the_Apostle_-_Bulgarian_icon.jpg  

The arrival of Saint Andrews’ relics changed more than just the name of the town (as it was still known as Kilrymont until around 1200). In the years leading up to 1100, the number of pilgrims traveling to see the relics was so large that Queen Margaret of Scotland established a free ferry across the Firth of Forth to aid pilgrims on their journey northward. In the town itself, a hostel specifically for housing pilgrims was established at St Leonards. Pilgrimage even influenced the urban layout of the town. As the relics were housed in the Cathedral, the town’s streets were built to accommodate the circular procession of pilgrims up and down North and South Street, with Market Street providing food, trade, and entertainment for the people that came on pilgrimage.  

A map of a city

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Map of St Andrews from the early 1580s by John Geddy. While not entirely geographically accurate, the Geddy Map provides an idealized conception of the town and gives a sense of how the flow of pilgrims would have travelled to the Cathedral by progressing up South Street and down North Street.   

“S. Andre sive Andreapolis Scotiae Universitas Metropolitana.” (National Library of Scotland MS.20996) 

One such item that would have been sold by merchants to pilgrims on Market Street were pilgrim badges like the ones pictured below. These badges were produced in large quantities and often depicted Saint Andrew on his trademark diagonal cross, which is replicated on the Scottish flag. Pilgrims would buy badges to wear as souvenirs to mark the completion of their journey to St Andrews and indicate their special status as a protected traveler.  

Examples of medieval pilgrim badges. The badges included holes in the  
corners for pilgrims to sew them onto their clothing.  
https://electricscotland.com/history/st_andrew.htm Open Access API 

By the fifteenth century, the number of pilgrims traveling to St Andrews had greatly decreased. The popularity of St Andrews as a site for pilgrimage waned as other shrines throughout northwestern Europe were established. With its harbor, castle, cathedral, and university, by the fifteenth century St Andrews had become a bustling town that may not have been as attractive to pilgrims as a site of spiritual transformation.  

While St Andrews may no longer be known as a site for traditional pilgrimage, to this day it still attracts people from all over the world. International students, golfers, and tourists continue to flock to this northeast corner of Fife, often following the same route across the Firth of Forth that hordes of pilgrims traversed hundreds of years ago.  

Written by Cally Wuthrich, 4th year student of Art History and Management at the University of St Andrews and volunteer with University of St Andrews Museums.