Close, No. 80 High Street, from Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow
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Close, No. 80 High Street, from Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow 1868 - 71
  • Scottish Art
In 1868 the Fife-born photographer, Thomas Annan, began his series of thirty-one photographs of the closes and wynds of old Glasgow. This area was one of the worst urban slums in Britain and had recently been scheduled for demolition by the City Improvement Trust, a body set up by the Glasgow Improvement Act of 1866 with sweeping powers to clear property. Annan was charged by the Trustees with recording its passing, an antiquarian commission that answered an anxiety about the city’s ferocious pace of change. Facing technical problems due to the dark and dank conditions, he utilised the wet collodion process, the most sensitive technology then available. The series is acknowledged as the first record of slum housing in the history of photography.

Glossary Open

Collodion

A transparent film of gun cotton dissolved in ether and containing potassium iodide spread over a glass plate negative. Wet collodion was sensitised on the spot and developed immediately. It gives high resolution of detail. Dry collodion was usually found to be less sensitive.

Commission

When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.

Collodion, Commission

Details

  • Acc. No. PGP 185.13
  • Medium Albumen print from wet collodion negative
  • Size 27.50 x 21.60 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1986