Film tribute to maverick photographer

University will host first Scottish screening

Date posted

16 August 2018


The Scottish Premiere of a film documenting the life and work of an unsung hero of British photography is to be held at Edinburgh Napier University.

The screening of Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay at the Craiglockhart campus on September 26 will be followed by a question and answer session with co-producer and director Grant Scott.

Jay, who died in 2009, aged 68, was a photographer, lecturer, writer, and editor/founder of the influential Creative Camera magazine. In 1970 he established the Do Not Bend Gallery, London, the first gallery dedicated to photography in the UK, and in 1971 Jay became the first Director of Photography at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

He was the author of more than 20 books on photography, two books of his own photography, and hundreds of essays, lectures and articles.

Grant Scott became intrigued by Jay’s story, having been compared with Jay in his opinions and writing, and immediately embarked on a series of interviews with friends, colleagues, ex-students and Jay’s family.

Archive footage, audio recordings and photographs were secured from numerous sources in the US and UK, so that Scott could use the maverick Jay’s own voice to narrate the story of his life.

Early audiences have hailed the film as “inspirational”, “absorbing”, “a revelation” and “poignant, funny and genuinely illuminating”, with photographer Martin Parr commenting: “I think the one real achievement of the film is to put on record the life and work of Bill Jay whose contribution has been known but never recognised.”

The Edinburgh screening will be preceded by a drinks reception, and director Scott will be joined on the discussion panel afterwards by Malcolm Dickson, Director of Street Level Photoworks; Ben Harman, Director of Stills Gallery; Edinburgh Napier honorary fellow Robin Gillanders, and Annie Lyden of The National Galleries of Scotland.

Grant Scott, a photographer, writer and lecturer in his own right, who produced the film in partnership with Tim Pellatt, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the response to the film and how people have connected with Bill’s story, finding it to be inspirational and entertaining. We made the film without funding with a total budget of £500, so to get such a reception has been incredible.”

Do Not Bend: The Photographic Life of Bill Jay will be shown at the Lindsay Stewart Lecture Theatre at the Craiglockhart Campus at 219 Colinton Road on Wednesday 26 September. The drinks reception is at 5.45pm, with the film being screened at 7pm and the Question and Answer session following at 8.45pm.

Tickets are £5 per person.

Tickets can be purchased here

Image 1: Tricia Kearney: Portrait of Bill Jay, 1976.

Image 2: David Hurn/Magnum. Bill Jay centre back with beard and students in his class at Arizona State University, 1974.

Do Not Bend - A Teaser