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Waiting for the Magic Oscar Marzaroli www.birlinn.co.uk


Waiting for the Magic

Oscar Marzaroli was an Italian-born Scot who spent much of his life photographing Glasgow and its people. He was a wellrespected photo-journalist and later a film-maker, but it was always still photography that he returned to and Glasgow was his favourite muse. Like his contemporary, William McIlvanney, he created a lasting image of the gritty city; one which will stand the testament of time and is a remarkable record of post-war urban Britain. His striking photographs are instantly recognisable to anyone who’s ever visited Glasgow, but more than that they reflect a period of great change in Britain. For anyone who grew up in postwar industrial cities, particularly in ship-building areas such as Liverpool, Newcastle, Southampton or Belfast, this collection of photos will strike a chord as they cleverly document the end of Britain’s days as an industrial power. Though at first glance the stark black & white photography may appear cold, there is real warmth and humour in Marzaroli’s work; his deep affection for the subject matter is evident and not limited to the urban landscape. His shots of the Highlands and the Scottish coast illuminate their beauty giving us a portrait of rural island life reminiscent of John Bellany’s work. Born in Northern Italy in 1933, he moved to Scotland when his parents emigrated two years later. After interrupted periods of study at Glasgow College of Art he moved to Stockholm and started a career as a photo-journalist which took him all over Europe. He moved briefly to London, but returned to Glasgow in 1959. He also worked as a still photographer on films, and eventually set up the highly-regarded Ogam films with two friends. Throughout his life however, it was the changing face of Glasgow that really sparked his imagination and his iconic shots of Glasgow estates such as Castlemilk and the Gorbals are what he is best remembered for. His greatest volume of work was produced in 1960s, at a time when Scotland’s cities were being completely regenerated. The tenements and the way of life that had grown up there were being torn down and the communities broken up and shipped out. Like Thomas Annan and Werner Kissling before him, Marzaroli managed to capture the look and life of a nation and his work should be seen as a historical record in its own right.



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