We set out to explore Merchant City art galleries and came across Street Level Photoworks at 103 Trongate that ran Save it for a Rainy Day exhibition by Doro Zinn.
I only visit a few photography exhibitions per year to keep the “horse blinders” as a photographer myself. However when I mentioned it to John he really wanted to see Zinn’s images taken last year during her residency exchange in the Gorbals, initiated by Street Level Photoworks in partnership with Ostkreuz Photography Association.
Last year John did some research into the history of his father’s Irish ancestors. The Heaney family’s migration to Scotland was probably triggered by the Great Potato Famine in the mid-nineteenth century. We found the record of a great great great grandmother living in the Gorbals tenements together with two younger grandchildren in the 1881 census.
We know that later the family moved to Dumfries but could only imagine the dwelling conditions and despair they experienced in the Gorbals period of their lives. Understandably, John was interested in Doro Zinn’s artistic take on her portraits of the contemporary people of the Gorbals and her work really touched him.
The community underwent decades of various urban regeneration projects striving to recover from the shadows of past poverty and violence but the area still has a reputation for being a bit troubled.
Doro Zinn managed to genuinely connect with some residents and created empathetic and perceptive portraits, delving into personal stories and conveying her sitters’ extraordinary resilience while remaining respectful of their dignity.
We meet Patricia, one of the first coloured migrants to live in the Gorbals, and sense Maureen’s aspirational yearnings through her dress and home decor.
Save it for a Rainy Day exhibition presents these portraits in the revealing context of the subjects’ surroundings – Sharkey’s pub interior, tidy but faceless rows of new apartment blocks, the brightly coloured reception area of the local Catholic Church, Maureen’s statues and gold gilt ornaments, family memorabilia and tattoos.
Zinn generously shares her project background information and her subjects’ stories in her Instagram posts – I felt these insights were valuable to understand the photographer’s creative process.
I only took some general shots of one of the exhibition walls and details of the show brochure to give my readers some idea what to expect but both John and I recommend you to visit the gallery and experience Zinn’s work yourselves by 8 September 2019 close date.