John R Hume’s work on Glasgow reminds you of that engraving of a graphic version of Hobbes’s Commonwealth as a human being. Glasgow, it seems, has been suffering the death of a thousand cuts to its urban fabric since its glory days as an industrial powerhouse and second city of Empire. And for every one of those lost industrial buildings that Hume painstakingly documented, you can almost feel as if another limb has been lopped off the body of the Glaswegian commonwealth.
But the work is not just a purely functional and factual recording of industrial history. In these black and white photos, the lost buildings are portrayed with a monumental solitude and integrity that has something of the atmospherics of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s seminal work. This atmosphere is given a resounding echo by its staging in a derelict and dilapidated Victorian hall. Curator Daisy Jones genius was to build a rig around the walls of the abandoned, columned and collapsing ex-Inland Revenue tax hall in North Frederick Street to stage the ghosts of demolitions past against a palimpsest of ruin present. It’s a stunning piece of mise-en-scene and Hume’s work glories in it.