EDITS

The EDI Edits section will focus on the issues that matter to Edinburgh. From student life to cultural movements, these are longer reads that allow writers and readers to delve more into a topic. An EDITS page will be run quarterly, with content continuously added to create a diverse compilation of work. 

#2 PICTURES: A THOUSAND WORDS

Curated by Rachel Watkins, our new EDITS section takes ten students and asks them what their favourite pictures are and why.

RORY DINDWOODIE

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From top left to bottom right:

1 - Reflexive reflections. Kodak Portra 400, Nikonos V 35mm, surfer: Kyra Ducross.

This photograph seems to evoke a more inward-looking response for me as the photographer, hence its somewhat pretentious title. As I am writing this caption at the start of a new term in Edinburgh, perhaps as far away from Cornwall as I could be, this photograph reminds me of the times and places where I am most alive. The challenges of starting a new year in this particularly uncertain and isolating time are I think something we are all feeling. It can be hard to stay motivated and positive when we may not be able to see the people we love or can’t plan further ahead than next week. We do all, however, have memories and moments, such as the one above, that remind us what life is all about. Whether cruising on a longboard is your thing or not, I think that we all need a bit of joy in our lives right now and I hope you find pleasure in sharing the memories that are the source of mine. 

 

2 - Man's best friend. Ilford Hp5. Zeiss Ikon Nettar 120mm. 

Anyone fortunate enough to have a pet knows that lockdown resulted in some serious bonding time. This is a capture of my neighbour and his miniature schnauzer and it just makes me happy so thought you might like it. 

 

3 - Making use of lost time. Ilford Delta 3200. Olympus OM2 35mm.

Whilst lockdown has been a challenging time for us all, this photograph reminds me of the positives that I have drawn from the last few months. This shift is a capture of my brother shaping a surfboard blank that we have been working on together this summer. This is something we would never normally have had time for nor previously had the bravery to try. This shot reminds me of how grateful I am to have been able to spend this time with family and appreciate what I all too often have taken for granted. 

 

4 - Generations. NikonD5600. Ghana 2018. 

This photograph has gained increasing significance every time I look at it. When capturing the shot, I was taken so aback by the flamboyance and smiles of the children in the foreground that I lost sight of the wider context behind. As I look back at this image it reveals interesting questions regarding the future of these children, as their elders haul in the days catch onto the beach that once acted as a major slave port of Ghana (the Cape Coast castle remains prominent just out of shot on the left). It seems an interesting layering of futures of increasing hope and potential with an important reclaiming of land and culture. Nevertheless, I can’t help but wonder how much longer there will be fish in the ocean for this generation of children to catch. What will this mean for the future of this coastal community in Ghana? The joy and power of photography can thus be revealed in this photograph. While one viewer may just tale in the costume and smiles, another may conjure up notions of post-colonialism or the challenges of climate change for future generations. 

PABALLO KARAS 

From top left to bottom right:

1 - This is a photo of me in my grandfather’s swimming pool in South Africa.

Most years when I was younger, we would go for Christmas and I have so many amazing memories there. My sisters and I would play with our cousins here, swim and harvest from my grandfather’s garden.

 

2 - The flowers in my dad’s garden.

I took about a million photos of these this summer. I love them because flowers in bushes like these are all over the Ascot area and they seem almost too tropical looking to belong there, but they remind me so much of home.

3 - The hills near my mum’s house in Somerset.

We took a walk here the morning of my birthday. I complained so much because it was wet and not very sunny, and I just wanted to stay inside. But after lots of hiking and walking we got to this view and it was so worth it.

 

4 - My younger sisters visiting me in Edinburgh.

My older sister and I both currently study here in Edinburgh so having our little sisters visit was really fun and long overdue. Unfortunately, they have decided to go to university in London so we will not be reunited any time soon sadly.

MAURA MCGOLDRICK

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From top left to bottom right:

1 - Sunset in Jerusalem, June 2019

In general, I’m pretty terrible at taking photographs, both in the sense of remembering to take them when something exciting happens but also in actually knowing how to capture a moment. I’m not particularly artistic or patient, and these seem to be rather essential qualities for photography. I often worry that because I don’t take enough photographs, I won’t have as many memories to look back on in the future. And I worry that the photos that I do take are not good enough to be distinguishable and therefore will not evoke any real memories once 30 years have passed. 

This photo challenged my anxieties surrounding photography. It’s not necessarily the most interesting of photos, other than the soothing streaks of pink and purple in the sky, and is arguably not the most distinctive either. However, looking at this photo transports me back to that rooftop - I had just finished an internship in Jerusalem and this was taken on my last night. When I look at it now, the same feelings of accomplishment and fulfilment arise. This made me realise that pictures don’t need to be visually stunning, or even that interesting in terms of what they capture; the trick is to take photos during moments that truly mean something to you when they are unfolding, rather than something you think other people will find impressive.

 

2 - Rainbow over the harbour in Portree (Isle of Skye), July 2020

As a teenager, I often had the urge to escape to a faraway land where everything was new and exciting, where I could forget about the stress and mundanity of everyday life. If I’m being honest, as a 20-year-old, I definitely still have the desire to escape reality completely when things feel too overwhelming. However, I have learned that a place does not need to be on the other side of the world to make you feel replenished.

This photo was taken during a trip to the Isle of Skye that I took with my mum once lockdown had ended and restrictions had eased. The island is absolutely stunning, even more so than I remember it being from when I visited as a child. We went on long walks, admired the view, and played lots of card games. Some people may have found this boring, and admittedly even I might have a few years ago. But I can honestly say that it’s one of the best trips I’ve ever been on, and I do think that this is partly because being stuck at home during lockdown emphasised the fact life does not always have to be fast-paced and ‘exciting’ to be enjoyable.

 

3 - My sister and I on the subway in NYC, August 2018

Objectively, this is not a very good photo. My sister and I are having a conversation, probably about something fairly insignificant like the strange variety of posters in the subway car, and are not aware that the photo is being taken. I know that my sister hates this picture, but I love it. I think it truly captures the essence of our relationship as sisters - we are both very different people, which I think is visible even by observing the difference in our postures and facial expressions, but we are still somehow able to maintain a bond. My sister and I have not always been close, but this picture reminds me that closeness does not necessarily directly correlate with similarity.

 

4 - Boudha temple in Kathmandu (Nepal), June 2018 

I lived in Nepal for a year when I was 14 and it was both one of the hardest and best years of my life so far. Being immersed in such an unfamiliar, but fascinating and beautiful, culture was overwhelming, especially when combined with all the anxieties that accompany turning 14. However, over time I came to love the place and the people, as well as the chaos that came with them. 

The Boudha temple was one of my favourite places in the city, from the very beginning of our time there. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful, and could provide a welcome respite from the incessant traffic noises on the streets of Kathmandu. This photo, which was taken when I last visited after I graduated from school, reminds me of the sense of calm that one experiences upon visiting the temple. The fact that I am almost fully obscured is also a reminder that the things I worried about, both when we lived there and when this photo was taken, were insignificant and not worth remembering. The temple itself and the feelings it elicits within people is what is worth remembering.

ANNA RIGO 

From top left to bottom right:

1 - Rooftop 

For one night we were on top of the world.

For one night we didn’t care about living in times of a pandemic, a climate crisis or social injustice.

For one night we were a bunch of 20 year olds talking, drinking, and dancing.

For one night everything felt normal.

 

2 - The last sunset of the summer

I’ve been seeing the sunset from that specific beach ever since I can remember myself.

I find it fascinating how every time I see it, I feel this awe as if I had never seen the sun going down in my life.

And every summer I decide that the last sunset is my favourite one -until next year that is.

 

3 - Away

This year I read page after page, book after book getting lost in other people’s stories, escaping from this world and these times, entering different ones good or bad ones in an attempt to find comfort in stories already written, lived and ended.

 

4 - Windows

I have a mild obsession with windows.

I don’t know if it’s the light coming in, the wind or the surrounding sounds but no matter where I am, I’m always searching for windows.

Maybe they are a reminder that even though I’m somewhere safe I can always get out and be free.

CHLOE BOLOTA

From top left to bottom right:

1 - Home

A beautiful combination of life and messiness that is overwhelming and peaceful at once.

A chance to discover and lose every part of yourself in the chaos.

 

2 - Home

A structured yet charming platform for being in any way that you want.

A chance to chase over new perspectives.

 

3 - Home

A serene and heavenly like place that invites you to forgive and forget.

A chance to immerse yourself into the reality that surrounds you.

 

4 - Home

A captivating welcome in the form of a green embrace that allows for submersion into your feelings.

A chance to ground yourself and find revival.

CLARA SABLITZKY

From top left to bottom right:

1 - the outsider, 2019 

From the outside, looking in. upon reflection, there is often more light in the dark than you might think. 

 

2 - the view from a room on the eleventh floor of 40 George Square

Perspective - the way we look at things.

Just because things are small, they aren’t any less significant.

 

3 - Edinburgh Christmas Markets, December 2018 

You let me choose the paper star I liked the most. 

Delicate and glittery, it hangs on my wall, three rooms since you gave it to me. Sometimes I wish I’d chosen better because, over time, delicate and glittery can become fragile and fake. I still wish upon this star, but perhaps that’s a mistake. Sometimes I wish I’d never chosen you. 

 

4 - Portobello Beach, September 2018 

The cool September sun shines on the end of summer. I sit on the beach, at the edge of a new city I now call home, watching different shades of blue meet at the horizon. A perfect line, somehow so clear, yet unknown. 

A fresh start. 

FRANCES ROBERTS

From top left to bottom right:

 

1 - Narrow streets once crowded now prowled by sleepy felines

 

2 - From muddy waters We bathe in blue The feeling of floating in freedom

 

3 - Wandering through the backstreets of an ancient city Craving spontaneity

 

4 - Islands are lonely places

LINA EL RASHEED

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From top left to bottom right:

 

1 - The first photo of the sunset was not long before I moved for the first time in my life. I was with my best friend who I have known since I was 5. At that moment I had no clue how crazy my life was suddenly going to become. It was one of my last moments of safety and stability. I moved to another country in Norway called Akershus and thought I would stay there for 3 years to complete high school and then figure out what I wanted to do. I lived there for half a year and when we were going on holiday to visit my dad who moved to Abu Dhabi for his job we suddenly just ended up staying there. I could not have moved to anything more polar opposite from Norway. 

 

2 - The second photo I took when I visited Trondheim again to see my friends and going back made me realise what a bubble I had been living in my whole life. I was comfortable and always wish I could go back but I realise I needed to move so that I could grow, and although I often think life would be simpler if I never moved but I also would never have grown as much as I did and still am. I also would never have gotten the opportunities I did if it wasn’t for moving. In Abu Dhabi I was chosen to go on the most incredible trip of my life. 

 

3 -  The photo in the desert is me on my first hiking trip in such an environment and it was a big shock. Although the first day was probably the worst day in my life, it is a great memory I have now.

 

4 - I went to New York City for a UN/UNICEF trip with other sister schools around the world. If I had been told that I would go to the US just a few months before, I would have said I probably would not have the possibility to travel there until at least I graduate from university and get a good job. If I had not moved I would never have even dreamt of anything close to what I did. I would never have ended up in Edinburgh and maybe never had the opportunity to reflect on myself and how I view myself. Working on oneself is something everyone needs to do and the more people and experiences you go through that are out of your comfort zone, the better and stronger you become.

MADDIE JONES 

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From top left to bottom right:

 

1 - My friend took this photo on Portobello beach at the beginning of August. I have always liked the documentary photographer Martin Parr who captures people in a variety of different places, like a fish and chip shop or a village fête. Parr said of his work ‘The fundamental thing I'm exploring constantly is the difference between the mythology of the place and the reality of it.’ I love the vivid colours and dynamic nature of his style which is what I loved about this image. The photo is also an interesting when considering lockdown. The amount of people on the beach that day was overwhelming especially when put in context of COVID-19. As the restrictions ease, I have found that I am increasingly unnerved by large groups and spaces following months of being at home. This new anxiousness shows how quickly we become accustomed to change and the ways in which our minds adapt to cope with new routines.

 

2 - The second picture is also taken in Sicily but on the other side of the Island. This is the top of some rocks with stairs leading down to the sea. The woman reading a book on the right hand side of the photo reminded me of an Italo Calvino short story ‘The Adventure of a Reader’. Calvino describes a man cycling down to the beach everyday and reading his book. I read it a couple of summers ago while on holiday and I have revisited it many times since. Something about the description of the water and the heat is particularly compelling in the middle of January. I have also always envied people who are able to take themselves to places like the beach alone. It seems so aloof and adult to me.

 

3 - This is taken in Syracuse, Sicily. I went at the beginning of September for a week. What I like about this photo is the contrast between the yachts and the luxury they represent, alongside the relatively run down beach area. I also loved the yellow colour of the buildings, which seems so specific to Mediterranean countries. I took the photo because of the various activities occurring in the separate groups on the beach. The boy on the bicycle and the couples talking in the water. I like photos that have lots of movement within them because they seem to capture a moment and bring you into it in a way that more staged photos don’t.

4 - The final photograph is one of my favourites. The man in the left corner is my friend Charlie and we are at Gullane Beach, just outside Edinburgh. This was taken just before we went home for lockdown. The beach was empty and it was freezing. We got in the water and spent the afternoon warming up. It was my first time visiting Gullane and every time I have gone back since it has been full of families. I think I like this picture so much because it encapsulates the romance of beaches in off-season. I sometimes prefer a cold walk on the beach to sunbathing in summer. Mainly because I enjoy the rituals that accompany a wintery day out; tea when you get home, hot fish & chips and the pub. But I also enjoy the emptiness of a beach in winter, it feels like you are discovering a place for the first time.

MARI YOUNG

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From top left to bottom right:

1 - This is a photograph of me celebrating in a freezing tent in Snowdonia, having just found the gas canister so that my friend Ned and I could cook tea after a long day of walking in pretty miserable fog. Unfortunately for us I had packed the wrong sized canister so we dined on a dinner of salted peanuts, stale rice cakes and raisins. Despite this, I chose this picture because these little outdoor escapades were the highlight of my summer and were perfect for stepping away from the headlines and scaremongering to just stomp about and eat crap with good company.

 

2 - This is a photograph I took of the scene walking up Glyder Fawr in mid-August. The scenes were breathtaking, but the memory this photograph actually jogs is a relentless, but nonetheless entertaining, game of cruise, marry, kill. RIP Christian Bale x

 

3 - Apologies for the poor quality here, but this is a screenshot of a video I tried to take of myself playing guitar (like so many others, learning guitar became my lockdown project). You may wonder why I am pulling the successive expressions of shock and bewilderment. The answer is: as I was trying to record a wobbly rendition of a Laura Marling song my dad issued an extremely audible – and disruptive – burp. In his defence he didn’t know I was recording. I chose these photos because I feel like they encapsulate my lockdown/post-lockdown family experience quite well: attempts at wholesomeness with an interruption of humour (often in the gaseous form). I know how lucky I am to have any positives to say about a period which was so difficult for so many others, but I do cherish these memories which were made in such bizarre and frightening circumstances, and brought our family closer together.

 

4 - I took this final photograph in early July on the way to the Black Lives Matter protest in Holyrood Park, sent to my sisters who were simultaneously attending a march in our hometown of Bangor. Though I’ve mentioned my enjoyed experiences during lockdown in this catalogue of covid, I wanted to centre the fight for racial justice. This health pandemic highlighted a pandemic of racialised inequality which has been entrenched in our society long before Rona reared its head. I endeavour to continuously reflect on my privilege, learn from my mistakes, and educate myself on racial injustice to contribute to a fight that will no doubt outlive covid.

#1 MOVEMENTS

Following the horrific murder of George Floyd on May 20th 2020, Black Lives Matter came to the forefront of our news and feeds. Racism has never gone away - to think it has done so is foolish. As the initial surge of change hit, so did an out-pour of stories, art, music, poetry and articles. We have curated some from the students of Edinburgh on this page. 

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"I have been questioned on whether I've been involved in knife crime or whether I know any Black person they can pluck from their memory. I have been praised for "how well (I) speak for a Black guy". I've endured three complete strangers pulling and running their hands through my hair on the middle of an ATIK dance floor. I have even been called "Tropical Boo" by another stranger in a club, who I am sure meant well but it comes across as nothing but a fetishisation of my ethnicity."

Lucien Staddon Foster

Artwork by Holly Lawrenson Evans (Instagram: @hollylawrensonevans_art)

Cereal box flock

Frances Roberts

 

You cannot enjoy the rhythm but ignore the blues

You cannot appreciate black culture but not black lives

I see you, I hear you, I stand with you, 

Well 2m apart

At an appropriate social distance 

 

But Stand for something or fall for anything

Boris Johnson Doesn’t care about Black people 

a racist cunt 

And trump has a tiny knob 

Wash your hands of racist bigotry you detty pigs

 

Rashan Charles

Mark Duggan

Classen Lewis

How many more more innocent black men will die at the hands of police?

How many names are there that weren’t filmed

Disappearing into the depths of a forgotten past

Never to be uttered 

 

Silence is violence 

Emptiness speaks 

Protesters in PPE 

Exhale heavy under a cotton cover

It’s harder to breathe

I can’t breathe 

WE CAN’T BREATHE

 

Racism is a pandemic

BAME communities disproportionately dying from this virus, systemic 

If you’re not angry, you’re not listening 

You’re probably white 

Some have the authority to kill a minority!

And you chose to echo the status quo

The view of a blind majority

 

Colour is not a crime 

I see no changes, all I see is racist faces 

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Artwork by Rachel Watkins (Instagram: @rach_watkins)

"When the time comes for them to connect with one another in the fine establishment of Pollock Halls of Residence, they often bring with them harmful bigotry fuelled by a lack of diversity in their home lives."

Lucien Staddon Foster

 

Pollock and Prejudice: How London’s influence impacts the lives of Edinburgh’s BAME people 

Lucien Staddon Foster

 

It's hard to miss Edinburgh's uniquely strong English influence, especially that of London. It is so powerful that some parts of Edinburgh are often criticised as being an extension of London in terms of influences, attitudes and the Status Quo. Whether it's the ever-creeping prices of a pint, the growing London-calling student diaspora, or a simple shift in tempo and ambience, the influence of one capital on another is as inescapable as a signet ring at a JMCC dinner. This influence, however, is both a curse and a blessing, particularly from the eyes of a BAME student. Allow me to explain.

Just 8% of Edinburgh's population identifies as BAME (1). A stark contrast to the multi-cultural powerhouse that is London's 35% (2). Assuming discrimination and prejudice decrease with exposure to different cultures, peoples and lifestyles, the heavy influence of London on our capital can bring a shift in attitude that better welcomes the BAME people who call Edinburgh home. However, London is also home to vast inequality, much of which acts along racial lines, and with it, comes specific harmful attitudes, perceptions, and ignorance. Unfortunately, those uniquely London-based attitudes can be spread to Edinburgh through its student intake and run the risk of becoming increasingly widespread, exacerbated by Scotland’s lower diversity. 

 

As far as the University is concerned, there is already a poor track record when it comes to diversity. The University of Edinburgh takes in half as many BAME students as its Russell Group peers3, and many degree programmes see significant attainment gaps based on ethnicity (as much as 17.7% for my course (4)). Thus, a disturbing pattern against the potential satisfaction and success of BAME students is revealed and it becomes reinforced when student origin is considered. As of 2018, 34% of Edinburgh University students are privately educated (5), likely hailing from predominantly White and wealthy schools and colleges. Whilst the obvious issue here is over-representation, given that just 7% of the UK population is privately educated, another sinister situation arises, one regarding the students themselves.

 

There's a certain type of student I'm sure you're well aware of; you can spot them from a mile away. Charged with pride for their South London or home county independent school; they waltz through the streets with a swing of flairs and a flash of a signet ring, with a demeanour consisting of equal parts arrogance and insecurity. There is nothing inherently problematic about privileged upbringings or needing to be noticed wherever you go, and I have no quarrel with those of us with those traits. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental common denominator for those matching this caricature. Beyond their work with foreign children on their gap year, they have likely had little to no real contact with BAME people. Think about their schools; you can probably count the pupils with a complexion darker than the façade of Appleton Tower on one hand. When the time comes for them to connect with one another in the fine establishment of Pollock Halls of Residence, they often bring with them harmful bigotry fuelled by a lack of diversity in their home lives. 

 

I'm sure if you spoke to any BAME friends of yours they'd return with countless examples of discriminatory acts and attitudes they have encountered during their time here. As your friends aren't here, I will lead with some personal examples of mine.

During my time at Edinburgh, specifically, when I was in halls, I have been subjected to all forms and flavours of bigotry. And more times than not, the culprits have been from the very social group I have been talking about. I have been questioned on whether I've been involved in knife crime or whether I know any Black person they can pluck from their memory. I have been praised for "how well (I) speak for a Black guy". I've endured three complete strangers pulling and running their hands through my hair on the middle of an ATIK dance floor. I have even been called "Tropical Boo" by another stranger in a club, who I am sure meant well but it comes across as nothing but a fetishisation of my ethnicity. So why then, do some from the most diverse parts of the UK harbour such bigotry and disrespect? I certainly don't have all the answers, but I am truly concerned about the president it may set in Scotland's White-dominated spaces. The "posh-boy banter" that's so prevalent in wealthy parts of the South, from which Edinburgh draws many students from, oozes with toxicity regarding ethnicity, race, sex, gender, religion and sexuality; and as a result, Edinburgh runs the risk of adopting such a culture. That's not to say Scotland doesn't have its own issues in regard to these, which it certainly does, but a specific type of prejudice and behaviour comes creeping in on top due to Edinburgh's strong ties to England's capital.

 

To preface this, allow me to tell you about myself. I am of mixed heritage, equal parts Black Caribbean and White English. I came to the UK when I was tiny and have lived here ever since. I am very obviously not white but just about ambiguous enough to throw a few White Brits off the scent. 

 

During my time at Edinburgh, specifically, when I was in halls, I have been subjected to all forms and flavours of bigotry. And more times than not, the culprits have been from the very social group I have been talking about. I have been questioned on whether I've been involved in knife crime or whether I know any Black person they can pluck from their memory. I have been praised for "how well (I) speak for a Black guy". I've endured three complete strangers pulling and running their hands through my hair on the middle of an ATIK dance-floor. I have even been called "Tropical Boo" by another stranger in a club, who I am sure meant well but it comes across as nothing but a fetishisation of my ethnicity. So why then, do some from the most diverse parts of the UK harbour such bigotry and disrespect? I certainly don't have all the answers, but I am truly concerned about the president it may set in Scotland's White-dominated spaces. The "posh-boy banter" that's so prevalent in wealthy parts of the South, from which Edinburgh draws many students from, oozes with toxicity regarding ethnicity, race, sex, gender, religion and sexuality; and as a result, Edinburgh runs the risk of adopting such a culture. That's not to say Scotland doesn't have its own issues in regard to these, which it certainly does, but a specific type of prejudice and behaviour comes creeping in on top due to Edinburgh's strong ties to England's capital.

During this time of demonstration and solidarity with BAME communities, we must recognise our own issues and the nuances behind them if we hope to transition further towards equality. At Edinburgh University, I believe a start can be made by addressing the negative influences of the capital and its surrounding bubble of affluence, and in its place, the positive aspects must be adopted. Such that, we embrace London’s multi-culturalism rather than its elite. Through this, we can reduce the toxicity and hardship that plagues both our UK-based and international BAME students. If the White-dominated private schools don’t address the toxic behaviour that’s often so rampant within them, it is our job to make sure that culture has no place in Edinburgh. 

 

References:

1, 2 Equality Evidence Finder Scotland

3, 4 EDMARC 2019 – Student Report

5 Higher Education Student Statistics: UK. 2018/2019 Statistical Bulletin

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Artwork by Tamara El-Halawani (Instagram: @tamara_elhalawani)