Parts of the information in this blog post has been taken from the book ‘Glasgow’s People 1956-1988’ published in 1993.
Oscar Marzaroli was born in Castiglione, Italy in 1933 and moved to Glasgow when he was two years old. He studied and worked in Glasgow before moving to Stockholm to work as a freelance photojournalist for a few years before returning to the UK. He returned to Glasgow in 1959 and set up a small photographic studio, which eventually partnered with a film studio and together they created over seventy films. Meanwhile Marzaroli continued to photograph the people and places that were the subjects of their films. When the partnership ended in the early 1980s Marzaroli returned full time to photography. He died in August 1988, a few months after the original publication of Shades of Grey. After his death Shades of Scotland, another volume of work, was published.
People of Glasgow is a collection of photographs depicting everyday life on Glasgow’s streets. The contents of the book is split into four sections, The Early Years of Life, Growing Up, Streetlife and The Later Years of Life. In the foreword of the book Marzaroli is described as having memorable work because “his eye was so naturally drawn to the humanity in every scene, the half posed, the ill prepared and the preoccupied”. A large proportion of the images are candid shots, capturing the moment exactly as it was.
This photograph, titled ‘The Castlemilk Lads’, was taken in 1963 on a housing estate on Glasgow’s outskirts. This is one of Marzaroli’s most iconic photographs, used on the cover of Deacon Blue’s single, Chocolate Girl. Town planning were rapidly building housing estates in and around Glasgow, harsh, ugly, concrete blocks like the ones in the background of the image. In an online clip from the BBC of an interview with the ‘Castlemilk Lads’ now, one of them explains that he was pulling the jacket around him in an attempt to keep warm when Marzaroli captured the photo. The facial expressions of the boy resting his head on the shoulder of the subject in front is fairly menacing, he appears to be putting on on for the camera, wanting to appear tough and street wise, however there is also a certain level of vulnerability to it.
It is likely that Marzaroli was crouching when he took the photo because he appears to be slightly below their eye level, which I think allows for a more intimate relationship between the subjects in the photo and the person viewing the image.
Football, Forth and Clyde Canal, near Pinkston, 1962
This photo shows the industrialisation that was taking place in 1960’s Glasgow, these boys are playing football on the cobbled streets, with what appears to be a factory behind them. The background also seems to be foggy, perhaps as a result of smoke from said factory. The background is slightly less visible because of this and as a result the boys in the foreground are brought out more, particularly because of their dark clothing. I like that they don’t seem to be phased by what s going on around them, they have grown up in a changing city and appear ti have adapted to it well, carrying on with their games.