stories up, we still talked to people on the ground. Once, three of us
cousins leaning over the sill could hear Gina, all the way from the ice
cream van, shouting at us to get away from the bloody window.
The wild wind was always kraaled here, herded back and forth between us
and the monolith opposite. So spiteful, the wind, so weedling and mournful.
You could see the motion of the water in the toilet bowl as the building
rocked itself minutely.
The side of the building was relief concrete, cast to look like smooth
stones. I used to wonder was there a wound in a beach somewhere, from
where the stones had all been plundered to decorate the façades.
I believed in the individuality of each large pebble. Only recently was
I able to see repeat patterns, id never seen that before.
At night, each window, lit up from inside, glowed a different colour of
curtain. In the day, the individuality of each home was less apparent.
I experienced those flats every day for thirteen years. I loved them.
I loved the scale, I loved being high. A friend of mine from Siberia visiting
Glasgow couldnt believe how ugly they were, he couldnt believe
there was such ugly architecture anywhere in the world worse than Russia,
and he found it here.
In the eighties, when tenements were being sandblasted and the council
were giving out grants for new windows, there was a municipal fashion
to paint murals on gable ends. Round the corner from us was an epic depiction
of railway workers. It celebrated the history of engineering in Springburn.
On the other
side of Sighthill cemetery, the flats got a facelift too, but it was different,
it wasnt figurative, it was simply telling us about the fabric of
the building and its geometry. the grid of the side was picked out in
yellows, whites and and greys, in V shapes that resembled Zulu beadwork
id seen in Johannesburg.
It also looked like knitting, like a small portion of the chart you might
use to knit this garment.
is a housing scheme in North Glasgow, built in the 1960s on a former pig
farm and chemical dump. The scheme made national news in 2001 when assylum
seeker Firsat Yildiz was fatally stabbed on his way home. In the aftermath,
local residents formed unity groups in solidarity with the many people
seeking assylum who had been dispersed there by the Home Office. Their
activity highlighted Sighthill as an area of extreme economic deprivation.
Sighthill Gala Queen was commissioned by The Lighthouse for The Scottish
Show 07. The garment is modelled by Hinda Khogali. Hair design by Leigh
Ferguson. Photo by Alan Dimmick. Graphic design and layout, Mandy McIntosh
for Ham and Enos.
Gala Queen is available as a knit-kit. For details on how to purchase
the kit, email info-at-hamandenos.com.