I’ve blogged before about the photography of Hugh Hood and Raymond Depardon in relation to their pictures of Glasgow in mainly the 1970’s, but this latest set by Ed Sijmons is different. Unlike the previous blogs this is about an amateur photographer, not a pair of splendid professionals which isn’t to Sijmons pictures are awful, they’re not.
They’re different. They still speak of a world now more or less long gone.Of a crumbling Glasgow in 1976 before buildings were levelled and a new city sat with the old.
This is a city still caked in a near century old lair of industrial filth.
These are interesting pictures. I remember vaguely some of what the city looked like back then which was an old city very much trying to become something else. It hasn’t quite gotten there yet but I have to say I don’t miss the industrial grime and dirt.
I will recommend going on Ed’s Flickr, there’s some truly wonderful sets of pictures. His set of New York in 1980 is great stuff, and he’s got pictures of his Garbage Pail Kids cards, which is glorious!
A while back I blogged about Raymond Depardon’s tragic,but yet stunning pictures of Glasgow. Recently the pictures of the photographer Hugh Hood was brought to my attention off the back of this article in the Guardian about the photographer Nick Hedges and his work across the UK for the housing charity Shelter.
Hugh Hood worked in the 1970’s which was a massive time of change for Glasgow. I myself remember being decanted from our tenement as it was sandblasted of a century’s grime and filth to reveal the sandstone underneath it. I also remember growing up around Maryhill/Possil/Milton seeing the sort of poverty that I’d thought I’d never see again, but sadly is starting to creep back in parts of the UK.
Hood’s pictures are painfully nostalgic for me. I remember this awakening of Glasgow that still continues as it shook off the grinding poverty that enveloped large parts of the city wherever you went. Even round the West End you’d see wee bomb sites or run down houses. Not now of course, but in the 70’s and 80’s it was possible to stumble across the sort of bleak emptiness contained in these pictures.
Playing by the middens was something every kid by me did. Kids would be in the most abject poverty but parents would ensure they were clean and what clothes we had weren’t ripped to pieces or filthy. In all though though I remember times of serious hardship but a trip to somewhere like the Barras would shine light upon kids like me who could explore and find little gems, in my case comics.
Hood’s pictures show the concrete of the new 1970’s Glasgow coming though as well as the near Victorian poverty of the time. There’s something lovely about this picture. I think it’s the kids playing in what is a pretty grim backdrop and the concrete walkway of Anderston.
Hood’s picture are stunning. Every one tells a little tale, or reveals a memory long though lost in a way that probably only photographs can do.
I’d strongly advise going to his website or hunting down his pictures when they appear in an exhibition hopefully near you. You’re not going to regret it.
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.