Colvin has explored every aspect of Scotland’s historic and mythic culture and in 2014 settled on the chimerical figure of Charles Edward Stuart, the ‘Young Pretender.’ In that year he completed a group of photographs tilted Pretender I – IV and would exhibit these in an exhibition, Jacobites by Name, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. In this series, the heroic Prince is first seen in armour and tartan plaid. His portrait is written across a landscape of rock and his sword is placed against a copper plate depicting a galleon in full sail, a portent of his fate. As the image progresses, the accent falls on the rocky landscape and the Prince’s face is decorated with turf and heather, motifs that relate to the landscape of his escape after Culloden. Gradually, the Prince fades and the fairground horse Rebel appears. Indeed, he was always there, the bedrock of the Prince’s portrait. But, in Pretender IV, Rebel is all that remains, rearing majestically in the broken landscape. And so, what had been an historical episode evaporates, leaving only a symbolic marker of the byzantine narrative.
In the film below the four images are combined into one through the process of lenticular printing. The film was made of the work whilst on show at the exhibition ‘Calum Colvin Constructed Worlds’ at the Matthew Research Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art + Design, Dundee University in February 2020. The exhibition was part of a series to mark the publication of the book of the same name by Luath Press: