Label Text: "Sixth Form Girl, Primary I Girl" is part of an early photographic series by Scottish photographer David Williams, completed as a six-month artist-in-residence commission for St. Margaret’s School for Girls, Edinburgh, in 1984. The title of the series, "Pictures from No Man’s Land," playfully acknowledges the unlikely admittance of a male observer to the protective sanctuary of this girls-only world. His portraits sensitively record the young girls’ developing identities as the school shepherds them through the journey from childhood through adolescence.
How quickly—seemingly within the blink of the camera’s shutter—does the ponytailed child arrive upon the threshold of adulthood. As if Williams’s camera has the power to compress time, we can imagine "Sixth Form Girl, Primary I Girl" as a vision of the potential and the realization of the same girl. One could easily be a forward projection or the recollected past of the other. The first-year child brims with exuberant, unmasked anticipation. She stands straight, feet together, safe within her tightly buttoned uniform. The elder girl wears a more reserved, relaxed attitude, already preparing to shed her St. Margaret’s-emblazoned cocoon and emerge, transformed, into the world beyond.