Dougie Wallace – Glasgow: Second City of the Empire
The North South Divide
Shot on the run up to the Scottish Referendum
The ‘Calton’ this multi-deprived inner city area, the average life expectancy of a male is just 53.9 years. In Iraq, after 10 years of sanctions, a war and a continuing conflict, suicide bombs and insurgency, the average man has a good chance of making it into his 60s; the life expectancy of a male there is 67.49. In Iran it is 69.96, in North Korea, 71.37 and in the Gaza Strip it is 70.5.
The health area covering Kensington & Chelsea had the UK’s highest life expectancy at birth, 84.4 years for men and 89.0 years for women.
For men, Greater Glasgow & Clyde had the lowest life expectancy 73.1 and 78.9 years for women which was also the lowest in the UK.
It struck me as ridiculous that in my home town of Glasgow the average age a person could hope to reach was 54 whereas in Iraq, after 10 years of sanctions, a war and a continuing conflict, suicide bombs and insurgency, the average person has a good chance of making it into their 60s. In Kensington and Chelsea a person could expect to live well in to 80s. I wanted to look at these two locations that form part of the same kingdom through the prism of a bus window and see if you could spot their differences by just looking at their top halves.
I’ve never taken a formal portrait in my life, but due to the proximity of the shots some of them have become intimate portraits. I think they capture something a posed photograph never could. The subject might be deep in thought and caught at a moment when they don’t imagine anyone is watching. Even when they do catch my eye it’s fleeting, like I’m in their periphery of vision. I am more interested in the project-based approach rather than the single-image approach. I want to create projects that are meaningful and have social statements.
East London-based photographer Dougie Wallace grew up in Glasgow hence his moniker, “Glasweegee”. Internationally recognised for his long-term social documentary projects and a distinct direct style of expressive street photography, his work has extensively been featured in international publications including the New York Times and Germany’s Stern Magazine. His books Stags, Hens and Bunnies (Dewi Lewis Media, 2014) and Shoreditch Wild Life (Hoxton Mini Press, 2014) received much critical acclaim and viral buzz. Road Wallah, a unique insight into Bombay’s cab drivers, will be published in Spring 2015 (Dewi Lewis Publishing). Dougie is represented by INSTITUTE artist management company.
“Living in Shoreditch has helped me develop an eye for the hilarious, messy side of human, uninhibited behavouir. At the same time my Glasgow upbringing has shaped the various facets of my style which has been described as ‘visually exaggerated’ and ‘hard edged’.
What motivates my pictures, above all, is human behaviour. People, their interactions and emotions fascinate me. I’d say that my stories are thematic in that they have similarities of expressions running through them. My work is informed by today’s growing culture of commercialization, the effect this has on our leisure time and global tourism and the inescapable consequences of corporate and brand domination that have ensued. Translating this into social wit, criticism and humorous vignettes through my lens is what stimulates me. I’d like to think that my photos convey a personalised point of view that is both believable and absurd.”