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Oscar Marzaroli has been training his unique eye on Glasgow for thirty years. Graham Caldwell spc

Not so long ago, a visitor to Glasgow‘s Third Eye Centre spent some time admiring the many and various photographs of the city on display before inquiring of a member ofstaff: ‘how long has the person who took those been dead?‘ The anecdote is related to me in a small, yet to be organised office high above Glasgow‘s West End by the man who took those photographs the very much alive Oscar Marzaroli. He relates it with some relish, seeing it as a compliment to the ‘timeless’ qualityof his work. He has every right to be proud. Every city must have its photographic archivist and if Paris has Fritz Henle and Edinburgh Colin Baxter then Glasgow has Oscar Marzaroli. December sees a major exhibition of his photography stretching back over the past thirty

years and features 200 of his best black and white images ofthe city, from his acclaimed portraits of the Gorbals ofthe Sixties to the thriving ‘cultural’ Glasgow of the Eighties. As his name might suggest, Marzaroli was born in Italy before his family settled in Glasgow in the mid-Thirties, where the young Oscar studied both at Glasgow Art School and Cowcaddens College of Printing unfortunately completing neither course due to illness. Thankfully, this does not seem to have done his career much harm as he went on to work as a freelance in Stockholm and Glasgow before touring Europe and returning to Glasgow in 1959. Back home he became involved in movie making and has credits in many award-winning pictures such as ‘Seaward the Great Ships’ and ‘Dear

Green Place‘. He combined stills and film work throughout the Sixites and Seventies, but since 1981 has concentrated on stills work, featuring Scotland in general and Glasgow in particular. Although he photographed cities all over Europe his particular love is Glasgow, which he describes as a ‘town ofgreat contrasts.‘ ‘I see it as a black and white town,‘ he says, ‘although with its clean-up it‘s become very beautiful with its pinks and yellows. The exhibition was going to include colour shots. but we decided to concentrate on black and white, which has always been my speciality although I must add that because it‘s in black and white that doesn‘t mean it‘s drab. . . there‘s more to black and white than just shades of grey.‘ He became most involved in

photographing Glasgow in the Sixties ‘a time ofgreat change‘ when he received justified acclaim for his portraits oflife in the fast-disappearing Gorbals area which he describes now as ‘a microcosm ofthe city at that time.‘ His splendid, monochrome portraits of life in the back courts and drab streets, featuring as they did, so many children, earned him the title of ‘a photographer ofurchins‘ one he is unhappy with. Perhaps his most famous photograph, that of the ‘Golden-haired lass‘ of the 1964 Gorbals was ‘just chance‘. ‘I don‘t go out predetermined to photograph certain things.’ . Although what might be described as the Gorbals period occupied only a small part ofhis career so far, he does not mind that it has claimed a

6The List 28 Nov— 11 Dec