Raymond Depardon is one of the finest photographers/photojournalists/documentarians of the 20th century. His work is simply extraordinary and in 1980 he was commissioned by the Sunday Times to go around the city of Glasgow and document what for the world outside of the city were things people were not used to seeing. These pictures were never published as the feeling was the mainly middle class readership of the newspaper would be utterly shocked by the images which are harsh, brutal and still sometimes beautiful in the harsh reality of them.
In 1980 I was 13, so many of the images aren’t alien to me. In fact, some remind me so vibrantly of my childhood in the city it’s like looking at image ripped from my memories of a city that in 1980 was trying to accept the start of post-war industrial decline and the start of the era of Thatcherism which ensured that even today in 2015, there’s still parts of Glasgow recovering from decades of neglect.
It’s Depardon’s astonishingly ability to find an image that strikes the eye that’s so glorious about these often harsh images where getting a contrast or some light in a city that at the time was blacked with decades of industrial grime.
Looking back at these pictures I can remember the smell of the soot, the sounds of people coming and going in the tenements we lived in and the reality of a city that in 1980 still suffered Victorian levels of deprivation.
I don’t miss the poverty of those times, but the community stood as much as it could together but we ere frankly a people battered by having to put up with too much in day-to-day life that would have made those Sunday Times readers choke on their breakfasts had they of course, seen these pictures. But this poverty is why there’s such a large Scottish, and especially Glaswegian Diaspora across the world as people left in droves to find something better for themselves. Yet I bet not a single person forgets where they come from, though we do often look back with rose-tinted filters on and that’s impossible with images like these.
I highly recommend having a look at the full set of images Raymond Depardon took in 1980. They are simply extraordinary.