OSCAR MARZAROLI COLLECTION GIFT TO UNIVERSITY

Marzaroli’s important Glasgow archive donated to university

Golden Haired Lass, Gorbals, 1964

Golden Haired Lass, Gorbals, 1964

Thousands of important photographs depicting great social change in Glasgow in the 50s, 60s and 70s, have been gifted to a university.

The archive of more than 50,000 photographs taken by Scots Italian photographer Oscar Marzaroli has been donated to Glasgow Caledonian University.

Only a small number of the photographs have ever been seen in public.

The university will now try to raise £200,000 to preserve the archive.

John Smith's Book Shop, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, 1962
John Smith’s Book Shop, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, 1962

Oscar Marzaroli was born in Italy but moved to Scotland at the age of two. His photos – and film footage – of Glasgow from the 50s through to the 70s, captured a period of enormous change.

Toffee Apples, Glasgow Green Carnival, 1963
Toffee Apples, Glasgow Green Carnival, 1963
Sledging Kelvingrove Park, 1964
Sledging, Kelvingrove Park, 1964

The images show real people going about their lives in the city, from flower sellers to railway workers. Many of the black-and-white images depict children playing in the streets, and many simply capture the city in bygone days.

Some of his most well-known images detail Glasgow’s Gorbals community in the 60s.

Bridges On The River Clyde, 1963
Bridges On The River Clyde, 1963

In the 1980s, his work was brought to a new audience when the band Deacon Blue used his images of the city and its people on their record covers.

The cover of their debut album, Raintown, pictured Mr Marzaroli’s image of a rainy day over Glasgow’s west end with the Finnieston Crane in the background.

Teabreak Ramsay Ladder Depot Kelvinbridge, 1961
Teabreak Ramsay Ladder Depot Kelvinbridge, 1961

On the 31st anniversary of his death, Mr Marzaroli’s family have now given the entire archive to the university who have launched a fundraising campaign to preserve, catalogue and digitise all 50,000 photographs.

Flower seller at Copeland's corner, 1968
Flower Seller at Copeland’s Corner, 1968

Ricky Ross, the lead singer of Deacon Blue, will launch the campaign to make up to 50,000 images available online.

Funeral party awaiting the hearse, Gorbals, 1963
Funeral party awaiting the hearse, Gorbals, 1963

Through portraits and landscapes, Mr Marzaroli captured Scotland during an exceptional time when city slums were being cleared to make way for new social housing. It is said his images perfectly encapsulate the atmosphere surrounding those fundamental shifts in society.  His death on 26 August 1988, at the age of 55, left a huge body of work.

Children, George Square, 1960
Children, George Square, 1960

Marie-Claire Marzaroli, one of the photographer’s three daughters, said: “We are thrilled our father’s archive has found a permanent home at Glasgow Caledonian University.

“It was our mother’s wish we find the right setting to preserve his legacy and the family are excited by the university’s plans to make the photos available online.”

Lamplighter, Gorbals, 1964
Lamplighter, Gorbals, 1964

Her sister Nicola Marzaroli added: “There are so many images, even we do not know what treasures our dad has left hidden in there. We hope people will get behind the fundraising campaign to enable the work required for everyone to be able to enjoy them in the future.”

Singer and songwriter, Ricky Ross, spoke of his personal connection with Mr Marzaroli at a special event to celebrate the arrival of the archive at GCU and launch the fundraising campaign.

Paintings For Sale, Botanic Gardens, 1958
For Sale, Botanic Gardens, 1958

He said: “Oscar’s work is part of Scotland’s social history. I got in touch with Oscar after I became fascinated with his work, and he ended up coming out with us and shooting some photographs for our first Deacon Blue album in different locations.

“I’d told him about the idea of Raintown and he called me one day to say there was a picture he thought suited it. It’s the one of the sunshine coming through the clouds. We loved it and our music from that period has been linked to Oscar ever since.”

Glasgow Underground St Enoch, 1977
Glasgow Underground St Enoch, 1977

The university’s archivist, Carole McCallum, believes the Marzaroli Collection is of international importance.

She said: “Oscar’s photographs are instantly recognisable – particularly the iconic images he took in the Gorbals before the tenements were cleared away. They’ve become rooted in popular culture but people don’t realise Oscar worked all over Scotland and further afield both as a photographer and filmmaker.

St Enoch's Square, Glasgow, 1981
St Enoch’s Square, Glasgow, 1981

“We are tremendously excited about putting the archive online but we need to raise around £200,000 to carry out all the work required to preserve, catalogue and digitise the various photographic mediums.”

The university and the family have selected 14 images for auction. Bids will be accepted until 20:00 on Thursday 5 September.

Pigeons at George Square, 1964
Pigeons at George Square, 1964

All images copyright of Marzaroli Collection

One comment

  1. Its a shame the Marzaroli family didnt stick to their agreement with the Old Gorbals Heritage Group (Community Benefit Group) that came up with the solution that saved this collection. Without their innovation this collection would still be sitting in the family garage.

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