Skip to main content

Oscar Marzaroli

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until March 15, 2020
Five stars

The last time Oscar Marzarolli’s iconic black and white images of Glasgow were seen in a major exhibition was in the 1980s, when the dear green place was en route to reinventing itself as culture city. Marzarolli’s iconic depictions of back-street inner-city urchins at play were heroised on the covers of records by Deacon Blue, who sang of the dignity of labour in a city all but razed into rubble.

Thirty-odd years on, and with Marzarolli’s archive of more than 50,000 images just donated to Glasgow Caledonian University, the 80-odd photographs on show here are given a new layer of poignancy by the distance of time. Most of the images were taken within a short walk from the gallery, but the places and people depicted are pretty much no more.

The high rises that loom over a lone Gorbals tenement in The Old and the New sets the tone for an array of images depicting half-demolished gable ends, half-built tower blocks and crumbling houses bookending a now empty square, as desolate as the Necropolis beside it.

Marzarolli’s greatest hits are here – The Castlemilk Lads and Golden Haired Lass – as are the artists - George Wylie and his straw locomotive; a young and glaikit-looking Alasdair Gray; the cast of the original production of The Steamie; Bill Forsyth and Clare Grogan filming Comfort & Joy. But so too are Barrowland dances and the Clyde Fair. The faces of vulnerable-looking boys are etched with experience beyond their years.

The Humblebums and Matt McGinn play on Glasgow Green in support of the 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in, Billy Connolly louchely playing his banjo as the others raise their fists in gleeful solidarity. Thousands of Celtic fans at Hampden Park for the 1963 Cup Final share a limbo of collective anxiety. In this way, Marzarolli’s work goes beyond social-realism to create a haunting visual poetry of a community at work, rest and play. That’s dignity, alright. 

The List, December 2019



Popular posts from this blog

Big Gold Dreams – A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

Disc 1 1. THE REZILLOS (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (12/77)  2. THE EXILE Hooked On You (8/77) 3. DRIVE Jerkin’ (8/77) 4. VALVES Robot Love (9/77) 5. P.V.C. 2 Put You In The Picture (10/77) 6. JOHNNY & THE SELF ABUSERS Dead Vandals (11/77) 7. BEE BEE CEE You Gotta Know Girl (11/77) 8. SUBS Gimme Your Heart (2/78) 9. SKIDS Reasons (No Bad NB 1, 4/78) 10. FINGERPRINTZ Dancing With Myself (1/79)  11. THE ZIPS Take Me Down (4/79) 12. ANOTHER PRETTY FACE All The Boys Love Carrie (5/79)  13. VISITORS Electric Heat (5/79) 14. JOLT See Saw (6/79) 15. SIMPLE MINDS Chelsea Girl (6/79) 16. SHAKE Culture Shock (7/79) 17. HEADBOYS The Shape Of Things To Come (7/79) 18. FIRE EXIT Time Wall (8/79) 19. FREEZE Paranoia (9/79) 20. FAKES Sylvia Clarke (9/79) 21. TPI She’s Too Clever For Me (10/79) 22. FUN 4 Singing In The Showers (11/79) 23. FLOWERS Confessions (12/79) 24. TV21 Playing With Fire (4/80) 25. ALEX FERGUSSON Stay With Me Tonight (1980) 1. THE REZILL

Losing Touch With My Mind - Psychedelia in Britain 1986-1990

DISC 1 1. THE STONE ROSES   -  Don’t Stop 2. SPACEMEN 3   -  Losing Touch With My Mind (Demo) 3. THE MODERN ART   -  Mind Train 4. 14 ICED BEARS   -  Mother Sleep 5. RED CHAIR FADEAWAY  -  Myra 6. BIFF BANG POW!   -  Five Minutes In The Life Of Greenwood Goulding 7. THE STAIRS  -  I Remember A Day 8. THE PRISONERS  -  In From The Cold 9. THE TELESCOPES   -  Everso 10. THE SEERS   -  Psych Out 11. MAGIC MUSHROOM BAND  -  You Can Be My L-S-D 12. THE HONEY SMUGGLERS  - Smokey Ice-Cream 13. THE MOONFLOWERS  -  We Dig Your Earth 14. THE SUGAR BATTLE   -  Colliding Minds 15. GOL GAPPAS   -  Albert Parker 16. PAUL ROLAND  -  In The Opium Den 17. THE THANES  -  Days Go Slowly By 18. THEE HYPNOTICS   -  Justice In Freedom (12" Version) 1. THE STONE ROSES    Don’t Stop ( Silvertone   ORE   1989) The trip didn’t quite start here for what sounds like Waterfall played backwards on The Stone Roses’ era-defining eponymous debut album, but it sounds

Edinburgh Rocks – The Capital's Music Scene in the 1950s and Early 1960s

Edinburgh has always been a vintage city. Yet, for youngsters growing up in the shadow of World War Two as well as a pervading air of tight-lipped Calvinism, they were dreich times indeed. The founding of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 and the subsequent Fringe it spawned may have livened up the city for a couple of weeks in August as long as you were fans of theatre, opera and classical music, but the pubs still shut early, and on Sundays weren't open at all. But Edinburgh too has always had a flipside beyond such official channels, and, in a twitch-hipped expression of the sort of cultural duality Robert Louis Stevenson recognised in his novel, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a vibrant dance-hall scene grew up across the city. Audiences flocked to emporiums such as the Cavendish in Tollcross, the Eldorado in Leith, The Plaza in Morningside and, most glamorous of all due to its revolving stage, the Palais in Fountainbridge. Here the likes of Joe Loss and Ted Heath broug