Did Scotland ever have its own top-secret space programme? Did the project succeed in sending a man into space, even if it couldn't bring him back? And if not, then why not?
Alba ad Astra is a celebration of what might have been our greatest technological achievement. Using photography, text and small sculptures to create a mixed-media show, Madeleine Shepherd has worked with spoken-word performance group Writers' Bloc to explore the forgotten history of Scots in space.
"I decided that a portfolio of my photographs, suitably annotated, would fit into the tradition of alternate geographies and space-travel-inspired works," Madeleine says. "A lot of my previous work was based on taking objects out of their normal context and giving them new roles. These captioned photographs do exactly that and ask the viewer to question the reality they appear to represent."
In his foreword to the catalogue, leading science-fiction writer Ken MacLeod praises Alba ad Astra's "haunting photographs that will reopen many questions we had thought were closed".
The exhibition will be on at Transreal Fiction, 7 Cowgatehead on Edinburgh's Grassmarket until the end of August.
Madeleine Shepherd is a photographer, a textile artist, a specialist in maths education and communication, and the communications officer at the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences. Her photography focuses on abstract textures, botany, alternative photographic techniques and portraiture. She has mounted two previous exhibitions at the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe, A Bestiary of Authors (2007) and Alien Surfaces (2008).
Writers' Bloc is Edinburgh's premier spoken-word performance group. Its members include published and prize-winning poets and novelists, who present original material with attitude. The group has published four successful and critically acclaimed chapbooks, and two more are forthcoming later this year: Morag Edward's Nil by Mouth and Andrew C. Ferguson's The Secret of Scottish Football. The Alba ad Astra catalogue represents another example of their collaborative ethos and willingness to experiment with narrative form.
Transreal Fiction bookshop, host of the Alba ad Astra exhibition, is Scotland's leading source for new science-fiction and fantasy books, and also stocks a wide range of art books covering a large cross-section of science-fiction and fantasy artists.
High-resolution images and a PDF file of the catalogue are available on request.