First frame — a man with a camera, grey beard and moustache. The late Oscar Marzaroli, born in Italy, 1933, but Glaswegian from the age of two. Click.
Second frame — a Scottish pop star, more accustomed to being in front of a camera than behind one. James Grant, lead singer with Love and Money.
Third frame — a watchful ﬁgure in a director’s chair. Bill Forsyth, the man behind Gregory’s Girl and Comfort and Joy.
Together they make an unusual collection, a true cross-section of a Scottish arts scene whose heart belongs to Glasgow. All three, however, have made a contribution to one ﬁeld in particular — photography. And so it is fitting that their union should begin with the work of the great Oscar Marzaroli himself.
Marzaroli’s distinctive black and white photographs span four decades of Glasgow history, cataloguing its progression from the mid 1950s to the'resurrected city of today. Better than anyone he knew how to use the familiar faces of Glasgow’s landmarks and people to create an honest portrait of the city. The publication of his work in book form — Shades of Grey in 1987 and the posthumous Shades of Scotland two years later — allowed a wider audience to enjoy his legacy. But, in the midst of 1990’s cultural celebrations, Marzaroli’s family and friends decided that still more could be done, not only to preserve his work, but also to use it as an inspiration for young Scottish artists.
‘It has been a difﬁcult two years since my husband’s death,’ says Anne Marzaroli, ‘especially as his work is vulnerable to being ripped off by other people, and so the family and some friends from his ﬁlming days helped set up the Oscar Marzaroli Trust. Our aim is to get premises for the location of an archive. People are familiar with some of Oscar’s work, but we have around 1500 black and white photographs and a lot of colour prints that have never been seen.’
Ideally the Trust would have a permanent
gallery for Marzaroli’s work , with another beside it for young and unknown photographers. A darkroom and workshop would also be in keeping with Marzaroli’s ambitions for the city, as
Anne explains. ‘It was one of my husband’s hopes to have a facility for people interested in photography and who didn’t necessarily aspire to being the next David Bailey,’ she says. ‘Even when he was ill, he would bring it up at meetings with the Arts Council, but nothing came out of the usual channels.’
It is at this point that Bill Forsyth, James Grant and a host of Scottish musicians and ﬁlmmakers step into the picture. Forsyth, a member of the Trust, has directed a special edition of the South Bank Show on Marzaroli, due for broadcast later this month contributes the well known Love And Money song Jocelyn Square to The Tree and The Bird and The Fish and The Bell, an album that is both a tribute to Marzaroli and a fundraiser for the Trust. It contains a wealth of rare , unreleased and live tracks from purveyors of quality Scottish pop including Wet Wet Wet, Hue and Cry and The Blue Nile.
One of the prime movers of this project is Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue, a band who used a characteristically bleak, early 60$, Marzaroli cityscape on their Raintown album. But according to James Grant, the musicians on the new album believe that the photographer’s inﬂuence goes beyond the packaging of a record.
‘Although your main body of work comes from yourself,’ he says, ‘all your favourite things come together as an inﬂuence and are filtered through. Having his work available to a wider audience may well encourage other people, other artists. I’ve always liked the work of Oscar Marzaroli, although that might sound obvious, because I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t. His photographs capture the spirit of the people in the city of Glasgow.’
Marzaroli should be remembered not only as a photographer, but also as a ﬁlm cameraman. During the 19605 he worked as freelance in this ﬁeld before forming Ogam Films, where he produced and directed over 70 films. It was only during the last years of his life that he began to work for himself again, having established a
Few works of art have captured Glasgow as well as the photographs of OSCAR MARZAROLI. Alan Morrison looks at the legacy of the Oscar Marzaroli Trust in light of a new fundraising album by Scottish musicians and a specially commissioned television documentary.
“The List 1 l - 24 January 1991