**Editors Note: Photographer Lisa Fleming spent a good deal of time explaining the history behind each of the locations D Young V had art, and every picture with it’s accompanying location information can be found in full in the flickr set: HERE”
What can I say about Scotland? In late September I finally had the opportunity to revisit one the most beautiful places on Earth. This was my second trip there, and rest assured I will be back there again in a short time. Edinburgh was to be my base of operations for this short ten day vacation, and last minute decision to do some public works. Three days before my departure from San Francisco’s luxurious Tenderloin district, I thought ‘fuck it, I’m going to a foreign country I should probably get-up’. So I did. A super talented and hospitable Scottish photographer Lisa Fleming was gracious enough to put me up, feed me and photograph my work for these ten days. Outside of her skills as a photographer, I was amazed by her knowledge and enthusiasm for Scottish history and culture. I swear, this young lady could tell you the history and cultural significance of almost every structure, street, and closey (alleyway) in Edinburgh. This obviously blew my mind and inspired near endless curiosity about this culture.
In my brief time there I learned about the history of kilts, indoor plumbing, the foundations for America’s urban grid system, what makes a real whiskey, the cultural impact of Sir Walter Scott, the origins of the philosophy of ‘free-will’, the historical inaccuracies of the film ‘Braveheart’, N.E.D.S. (non-educated delinquents) and the infamous Sawney Bean family.
The Sawney Bean family was a 48 member clan started by Alexander Bean and his wife. The two of them together produced eight sons and six daughters, who went onto produce them eighteen sons and fourteen daughters.. This 48 member clan created entirely through incest lived undiscovered in a coastal cave in Bannane Head (now South Ayrshire) for twenty five years. During these twenty five years they were responsible slaying and devouring nearly one thousand people. They would attack small groups of people in packs. After murdering them, they would drag their bodies back to their cave. After taking their victims bodies apart, they would eat and preserve those parts. They also discarded some body parts in the ocean that would eventually end up on neighboring shores. Once their existence was brought to light, they were hunted down, captured and brought to Edinburgh, then transferred to either Glasgow or Leith (now part of Edinburgh). Their crime of ‘cannibalism’ was considered the equivalent of ‘treason’ in 15th/16th century Scotland. They were executed without trial. The men had their genitalia, hands and feet severed, then left to bleed to death. The women and children, after watching the men die, were burned alive. Though perhaps not the brightest part of Scotland’s history, but it sure as hell is one of the most fascinating.
What is even more fascinating is Scotland’s infinite uses and applications of the word ‘CUNT’. I’ve never experienced a culture has got their slang down to such a science that you can literally translate it to entirely different language. Two Scotts could have a private conversation amongst themselves entirely in slang, and to the ears of an English speaking person they may as well be speaking in Arabic.
Perhaps one of the most attractive qualities of this land is its hospitality and friendliness to strangers. You’d have to be a total asshole to go to Scotland by yourself and not make any friends. I must say these people really do give you a sense of belonging when amongst them. If you walked into a bar alone, within minutes you’d be sitting with a table full of strangers talking about your life, drinking free drinks, and making instant friends to take you around the city and more than likely give you a place to stay for the night. I get the feeling that people just aren’t as afraid and suspicious of one another over there. Sure, they have problems. There’s violence, crime, poverty and all the good stuff you can expect in any major city, but with that said, I still find myself entirely at ease when I’m there.
Now a word on street art. From my experience on this trip, Edinburgh does not appear to have a large graff/street art in their city centre. Sure, I saw a lot of tags, stickers, throw ups and pieces, but for a city of its size they’re simply was not as much as one would expect, at least not in the downtown neighborhoods. The majority of wheat pastes that I saw were from Edinburgh’s response to JR’s Inside Out Project (http://www.edinburghspotlight.com/2011/07/feature-inside-out-art-project-edinburgh/). The team that put those up pretty much dominated the entire city. Second to that was a tagger named ‘Winston’. I saw that tag everywhere I went. After I returned back from my trip I found out that the lack of graff/street art was due to the city council zero-tolerence toward this sort of thing. However, I’m told that Glasgow (just a forty minute train ride away) has a huge scene for this. I’ll have experience that on the next trip. They’re certainly is more then enough spots to get up in Edinburgh for sure, I think because I didn’t see work everywhere it sort of put me at ease. I found myself in less of a rush to get a piece up, spending more time flattening the work out, then chilling a bit longer afterwards to view the work in its surrounding environment. There is something extremely refreshing about putting work up in a new city, in an entirely new environment.
Another highlight of this trip was having coffee with local artist Derm (www.dermographix.blogspot.com ) who gave me much of the lowdown on the local urban art culture. What I also found interesting was a recent project he just took part in with Augusting Koffi through Recoat Gallery in Glasgow titled ‘Rudimentary Perfection’ (www.rudimentaryperfection.blogspot.com). The premise of that project was to have ten international artists create ten murals throughout Glasgow leading up to an exhibition focused on ‘Graffuturism’. I suppose wherever you travel your always two degrees from an artist associated with White Walls Gallery in San Francisco.
On a similar note I recommend anyone with an interest in Scottish graff/street art to check out ‘Agents of Change’. This is a group that Derm is involved with along with several other Scotland based artists. Videos of their numerous projects can be found on vimeo (http://vimeo.com/8207410). The one project that most interested me was ‘The Ghostvillage Project’. This was a collaborative mural take over of an abandoned village off the coast of Scotland. Drawing on the history and local environment of the village the artists created numerous murals and painted characters that seem to repopulate the entire area.
With all that said I’m sure I could go on and on about Scotland and it’s more then fascinating culture and history, but I’m not going too. I’ll save that for the next article I write after I go back again. Until that point, thanks for reading this and checking out my work. To see more of Lisa Fleming’s work go to:
– D Young V with photos by Lisa Fleming for Warholian
For more on D Young V visit: www.dyoungv.com/
For more about Lisa Fleming, visit here Flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7321614@N07/with/6263441215/