- David Peat - Through the Looking Glass - Forty Years of Street Photography

Sat 11th Jun 2011 - Wed 27th Jul 2011

David Peat 1947-2012 - An Appreciation

David Peat, filmmaker, photographer and friend of The Watermill sadly passed away on Monday 16th April after a long fight with cancer.

A beautiful book of David's Glasgow work An Eye on the Street is now available and can be ordered here.

We knew David as a visitor to The Watermill ever since we opened our bookshop and gallery in 2005. At the end of that year David asked us if we would be interested in an exhibition of his Glasgow street photography. We sat astonished as he leafed through a wonderful collection of images that he had taken as a young man of Glasgow tenements in the 1960s. The resulting 2006 exhibition Close Encounters was extensively featured in the media and touched a nerve among a wide audience. As a result we had the privilege of people visiting from Glasgow who had been sent by their families to check if the photos in the press had included members of their family.

In 2010 David gave us the news that he had been diagnosed with an inoperable cancer and that he was bringing forward his 'retirement project' of reviewing his lifetime archive of street photography. His work, as a documentary film cameraman and later as film director had taken him to many parts of the globe. In the nature of film work, there are frequent periods of 'down time', which would often see David wandering off with his camera. But these images, like those of the Glasgow tenements before, had never seen the light of day, only existing as hundreds of contact sheets. Like with his film work, his photographic images above all showed a unique ability to 'capture' his subject without seeming to intrude, and a superb attention to details of composition that make photographs artistic images.

Knowing David's condition, it was with a special significance and some urgency that we discussed the plans for his 2011 Watermill Gallery exhibition. The opening evening of Through the Looking Glass in June last year was a truly moving occasion, seeing David surrounded by so many friends and admirers of his work. The exhibition featured on the BBC website, with millions of 'visitors' from all over the world and was a huge success.

Although he was laid low by an infection immediately after the opening, possibly brought on by the incredible energy he had put into the preparations, David gathered his strength and supervised that production of the prints that had been sold at the show.

During the autumn and winter, despite the cancer taking its toll, he showed almost indefatigable spirit in laying plans for future exhibitions and a book - both of which will come to light at an exhibition at Trongate 103, Glasgow in June 2012.

Our thoughts go to Trish and David's family.

Kevin & Jayne Ramage, 19 April, 2012

Close Encounters in David's words...

Although my career has been in documentary film-making for television, my life as a stills photographer has been an entirely personal journey, driven only by a desire to try and capture moments that reflect how I see life on the streets of the world I have travelled.

You can see why we love the camera and photography. It allows us, quickly and simply, to capture that moment or that memory. And that’s why I love the added intensity of street photography. Wandering through a location, you have no idea what you are looking for beyond the chance of capturing that little moment of magic when an image reveals a glimpse of human nature being played out in the theatre that is the street. You become a hunter, intensely focussed on observing those around you and their place in that environment. The challenge is to reduce that environment within the confines of the frame – frozen, in the blink of an eye.

A serious illness has suddenly propelled me into a wonderful journey back into my archive, discovering images I had forgotten and delighting in seeing that reality can surpass one’s imagination – though sometimes the reverse! My hope for the exhibition is that by revealing a little of myself and my eye on the world, others can smile and share the moment, the humour, the insight and, occasionally, the poignancy.

But better still would be if they can discover aspects of, or reactions to, an image that have entirely escaped me. Then we are really sharing my peek through the looking glass.

David Peat, May 2011

A selection of works from the exhibition are shown below. Thirty more images are on a slideshow on the  BBC Website . The  exhibition brochure can be viewed here.

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Up and Coming Events

Friday 6th Jul (6.30pm)

Finding Our Way - A Talk by Chris Fleet

To launch our exhibition Finding Our Way - A History of Scottish Maps and Mapping Chris Fleet, map curator at the National Library of Scotland will be giving an introductory talk. He is co-author of three seminal books on the history of Scottish mapping – Scotland Mapping the Nation, Edinburgh Mapping a City and Scotland Mapping the Islands. Tickets available from The Watermill 01887822896. £5 including a drink.

Watermill Blog

Highland Bookshop Fort William

Posted: Tue 22nd Aug

Going West? The Highland Bookshop, a sister shop to The Watermill has just opened in Fort William. A joint venture between Watermill owners Jayne & Kevin Ramage and Lochaber author Angus MacDonald, it is the first dedicated bookshop in the town for many years. You can find out more on the Highland Bookshop Facebook page here.

Jamie Grant to open Winter Words 2017

Posted: Tue 31st Jan

Watermill Books author and photographer Jamie Grant is opening this year’s Winter Words Festival at Pitlochy Festival Theatre with an iillustrated account of the sub-Antarctic isle of South Georgia on the 16th of February. He spent the 2015-16 austral summer on the island as Artist in Residence for The South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) and published ‘Summer in South Georgia,’ with Watermill Books in September 2016. Tickets can be booked via Pitlochry Theatre website.

Sunshine and snow

Posted: Sat 14th Jan

Life is good It's a wonderful crisp, sunny, snowy day here at The Watermill. The baristas are working to a soundtrack of mellow jazz and the coffee smells fantastic. People stamp the snow off their boots as they come in and either go down for a cup of something warming or upstairs for a wander through the gallery or set about having a serious browse among the books. A customer is in a comfy chair between the poetry section and Thrillers having a quiet read. Life is good!!

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