Heritage Glasgow

29Nov11

After returning from my time on Mull, the photographer David Gordon showed me his manor – Glasgow’s South Side – in the hours before my homeward flight.

On that beautiful morning David took me past abandoned warehouses and still vacant bomb sites, followed by the fine detached houses of Pollokshields and Queen’s Park sporting green stained 80s conservatories. As we progressed, David bemoaned his council’s inability to properly maintain road junctions to accommodate pedestrians or to clear blocked drains that spawn lakes of oily water. Latterly, we headed to the still handsome Scotland Street School Museum designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and currently showing the Partick Camera Club’s b+w work from the 1970s. In places, the toil of these roving amateurs was what I’d expect McCullin to bring back – so inquisitive and intimate was the gritty documentary.

Opposite the school, many of those typical scenes have gone. The new M8 motorway’s concrete has gobbled the tenement lives of families and children and only the school bell still in situ still emits the sounds of bygone Glasgow.

To street photographers a city like Glasgow is less frantic and chaotic but nonetheless a more confrontational city than London –  a capital known for its English frostiness to northern trippers. I recounted how in the West End that I’ve frequented a lot this year, one can melt away and rarely be noticed among tourists and their ubiquitous photo-gadgets. In Glasgow, David feels constantly exposed to the directness of the Scots.

Outside Lidl I saw the tourism poster showing the Glenfinnan Monument where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard to launch the 1745 Jacobite Rising. As I photographed the poster and incidental corporate colours, a woman shuffled past me muttering about my invading peoples’ privacy and I once again recalled the idea that only the photographer understands what information is being considered via the viewfinder. The outsider, often the subject itself cannot possibly guess at content or context.

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