The Merchant City’s Working

Posted: September 11, 2013 in Art, Photography
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Merchants House (Now & Then) (Click for full size)

Candleriggs (Now & Then) (Click for full size)

My two pieces for The Merchant City’s Working exhibition at the Virginia Gallery, part of the Merchant City Festival 2013. The idea behind the exhibition was to pay homage to the vintage black and white photographs that showed people working in the city, and capture what makes the Merchant City a vibrant and uniquely cultural part of Glasgow.

Never one to make things easy for myself, I had the idea of creating images which would literally show the buildings peeling back to reveal the history of the Merchant City beneath.

The greatest difficulty I faced in this was finding vintage photographs which were not only recreatable today, but – more pertinently – were sufficiently free of copyright that my using them wouldn’t steer me into any legal quandaries. This in turn led me to The Commons over on Flickr, a massive public photo archive wherein I discovered this image of Merchant’s House owned by the Cornell University Library. After a few emails back and forth with the very helpful and accommodating Eisha Neely of the Division of Rare Books and Manuscript Collections, I managed to secure the use of the photo and set about recreating the image in a modern-day setting. This process largely involved me standing by the side of the road opposite George Square and trying to match up the photo in my hands with what I was seeing in front of my eyes.

The creation of the second image ran rather less smoothly, not least because a certain institution right here in Glasgow (who, for tact’s sake, shall remain anonymous) proved infinitely less obliging than an Ivy League university in the States – and this in spite of their involvement in the actual exhibition. Nevertheless, the end results of both pictures were even better than I’d envisioned, which is also why I’ve chosen to share them at a larger size than usual. I think a lot of the details are lost otherwise – the Victorian couple entering the taxi, for instance, or my creative solution to removing the license plates.

The day of the launch party at The Virginia Gallery – I was (rather visibly) excited to be featured so prominently in the window.

Mission statement.

Prints of the Merchants House image are available – please contact

Original Merchant House 1874 photograph © George Washington Wilson (Scottish, 1823-1893), and provided by A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Accession Number: 15/5/3090.01221. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Original Candleriggs 1890 photograph © Glasgow City Archives

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.