Reading time:

Gingers of Dundee

Kieran Dodds 1st June – 1st August 2017

Ginger is a Scottish colloquial term of what is popularly called ‘red hair’. Scotland has the highest proportion of gingers in the world yet it remains uncommon with only 13% expressing the hair type and is a cliche of Scottish identity abroad.

This new portrait series seeks to forge physical and cultural links between the everyday Dundonian and the new V&A development and wider Waterfront Development and challenges us to reconsider superficial assumptions. The photographs depict residents of Dundee and allows them to inhabit the space between two realms, the past and the future, acting as the city’s representatives within the new landscape.

The use of a visual minority to represent a whole city raises questions of representation and perception. Does the Waterfront Development reflect the views of the everyday resident and if so which ones? There is a hidden complexity even among the supposed uniformity of this group. 

Through interview excerpts with the sitters, the viewer is invited to consider the deeper unseen complexities of supposedly simple issues. The Waterfront Development represents a complex meeting point of many Dundee voices each projecting their own personal assumptions upon the external environment that deserves greater interrogation. 

The visual language references a rich seam within art history, one that can be explored within the V&A online archives.The hair colour has held a deeply significant role in art history, most notably, but not limited to, the Renaissance and pre-Raphaelites period where central characters, often divine in nature, were red-haired. Yet it is also a type of Scottish identity, one that is familiar in a collection brought from ‘outside’.

This is a new chapter in an ongoing body of work called ‘Gingers’ that has been published globally and exhibited in the Hermitage in St Petersburg. These portraits will contribute to Kieran Dodds’ first book, planned for publication in 2018. To find out more about Kieran Dodds see here.