Change Text Size: A A A
Galloping Sheep by Ian MacKenzie, 1979 (School of Scottish Studies)

Ian MacKenzie & the School of Scottish Studies

The internationally renowned archives of the School of Scottish Studies, based at the University of Edinburgh, were established in 1951 for the collection, research, archiving and publication of materials relating to the cultural life and traditions of Scotland. The Sound Archive now contains over 12,000 fieldwork recordings of song, instrumental music, stories, verse, rhymes, proverbs, oral history and tradition in Gaelic, Scots and English. You can listen to many of these recordings on-line through the project Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches.

The Photographic Archive contains thousands of images from all over Scotland and beyond. Notable collections include work by Werner Kissling in the Hebrides and Galloway and Robert Atkinson’s images of the Western Isles. Ian MacKenzie’s extensive ethnological record, containing both still and video footage of local customs, festivals and working life, resides alongside his portfolio of fine art photography, of which the School of Scottish Studies Archives is custodian.

MacKenzie was born in Inverness and grew up in the distillery village of Tomatin, Strathdearn. He graduated from Napier College and went on to London to obtain a masters degree in photography from the Royal College of Art. Throughout his life, his devotion to the Highlands inspired him to capture the essence of Scottish culture in his artwork, even when travelling abroad. He came to work at the School of Scottish Studies in 1985, where he was curator of the Photographic Archive for nearly twenty-five years. Aside from maintaining the existing collections, he travelled all over Scotland capturing scenes and customs on the edge of extinction.

His photos reflect his belief that there is always room for the appreciation of the important things in life that are so often overlooked. His project ZenBends reflected this philosophy by focusing on the quality of day-to-day life rather than the constant pursuit of a final goal.

The Ian MacKenzie Memorial Fund was established after his passing in 2009 and all proceeds go to the School of Scottish Studies Archives. Please visit ZenBends for details and to find out more on the School of Scottish Studies Archive, please visit their website.

By Talitha MacKenzie (Broadsheet Issue 22, January 2013)

Image: Robbie Murray (Galloway, December 1985) (School of Scottish Studies)