THROUGH the intimate lens of David Peat, the children of 1960s Glasgow appear as grubby, wizened little adults, conducting their business in a flurry of activity, oblivious to the squalor of their surroundings.
An Eye on the Street
By David Peat
Renaissance Press, £9.99
There are the two babies, their prams set adjacent in a crumbling tenement back court, seemingly keeping one another informed of the latest gossip; or the barrow boy industriously pushing his wares along a road, the apples and oranges jiggling in his rumbling, rickety charge.
Best known as a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer, Peat’s photography was typified by the empathy he had with those people he trained his viewfinder on, whether it be Clyde shipyards, miners, or fishermen.
That bond was captured with great verve by a recent BBC Scotland documentary, which showed him being warmly greeted by former subjects as he reflected on his canon of work. After Peat’s death in April, aged 65, it served as a timely tribute to a lifetime of observation. Amid the recognition and tributes for his film work, however, few realised Peat’s passion and talent as a photographer.
In 1968, armed with the Pentax camera he received for his 21st birthday, he took to the streets of the Gorbals, Tradeston and Maryhill. For the next 44 years, the photographs would remain hidden from view until illness gave their creator cause to usher them into the public domain. “I just can’t bear for these to be thrown out and not seen,” he reasoned.
The result is An Eye on the Street, the first ever publication of Peat’s pictures. Taken with a wide-angle 35mm lens, the humanity of Peat’s moving images is no less evident in his single frames. The images may be in stark black and white, but they capture innumerable shade of gray dirt and soot.
They were taken in the same era that Glasgow Corporation was pressing ahead with an ill-advised programme of urban renewal, following the recommendations of the Bruce Report and erecting Brutalist monuments to the future, which, in the space of a generation, would represent the folly of the past.
Throughout the book – which contains tributes from Billy Connolly, Alan Spence, Robin Gillanders, and David Bruce – there is a keen sense that the modern world is lurking on the horizon.
Peat’s editor, Lucina Prestige, had hoped to identify and speak to some of the children he captured, only to discover those potential interviewees had also passed away.
This book is an effusive tribute to them, and the bleak beauty of their childhood, but above all, it embodies the power of photography to capture moments soon to be lost forever.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West