Marzaroli’s important Glasgow archive donated to university
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ricky Ross, the lead singer of Deacon Blue, will launch the campaign to make up to 50,000 images available online.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
“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.