ON THE SCENE
I watched for weeks as high-rise flats were being prepared for demolition on Glasgow's southside, passing them on the bus to and from work. By chance I had my camera with me on a really sunny day a couple of weeks back, and got shots of the flats in there preparatory state - wrapped in black plastic and looking completely vacant of life. These flats finally fell down last week.
I can still feel the rubble dust in between my toes from the pair of high-rise flats that fell down, assisted by a safe demolition team, at Stirlingfauld Place, just off Gorbals Road at 9.45 on Sunday 1st June. I wasn't there to witness the explosion and descent of homes that had stood for 20 years, but I did see the dramatic presence of their aftermath, and photographed the rubble.
The photo below is one not taken by me, that captures the moment of explosive demolition.
Ramshackled concertina-like walls, skewed window frames, wallpapered rooms with lampshades eerily swinging within. These remains of concrete boxed homes were greeted with joy by the locals who have seen many neighbouring flats fall.
I can't help but also celebrate, for these flats were pointless. There very purpose was to house many in a small area squared, but people are not battery hens, bred for laying eggs, and let's be honest, going mental in the process. Humans aswell as hens need free range living, and to believe that so many people can really live so high up, is testament to the long way down the human chain the government saw the residents.
However, in recent times artists have focused on their significance to Glasgow's panorama.
One artist is Catherine Yass (www.high-wire.org.uk/catherine.php), whose exhibition 'High-Wire' shown last month at the Glasgow CCA focused on a tightrope walk of Didier Pasquette, filmed from several vantage points. Up close to the films you feel the vulnerability of being so high, whilst far away it looks amazing and spectacular. From the exhibition I felt that feeling of freedom to be experiencing the city in this way, and had no awareness of the claustrophobia of living in a box so high. I remember once being in the high-rise flat of someone on the same uni course, she was bringing up her young son, and I recall the living room was greyly light from the overcast sky, and thinking "God, I get to go home".
But for so many people the high-rises were and still are home. They are a self-contained town, cut-off from the lush suburbs and isolated, yet within yards of a bus stop at street level. I guess ironically and conveniently, the bus stop is a social hub for the high rise youth. High-rise flats should never have been residential, they always should have been office and commercial - give an ugly building an ugly job - don't give a person a vertical cave to live in.
I met some former residents of the flats, who were celebrating their demolition. One man had even been documenting in photographs the fall of all Glasgow's high-rises, with a great SLR that he'd bought with redundancy money a couple of years ago. The flats will be all gone in the forthcoming years, but probably never forgotten as they shaped another time in Glasgow's social history. Let's just hope that we'll just be looking up at the sky from now on.
BEFORE THE FALL
CONCRETE FOREST AT A DISTANCE
LAST LOOK UP
PILE OF BRICKS