The Glasgow effect: the photographs of Kirsty Mackay
When a report revealed that her native city had the lowest male life expectancy in western Europe, photographer Kirsty Mackay went back to explore the personal stories behind the statistics
‘At first I wanted to photograph issues, but I came to realise that this is a story about trauma – the ripple effect of trauma, how trauma is passed on from generation to generation.” That is how the Scottish photographer Kirsty Mackay describes her project The Fish That Never Swam, a quietly powerful study of low life expectancy in Glasgow through a series of compelling portraits.
Mackay began shooting the series in 2016, after the Glasgow Centre for Population Health published research into Scotland’s so-called “excess mortality” – 5,000 more people die in Scotland per year than the UK average. Glasgow is at the centre of that spike: at 73.3 years, male life expectancy in the city is the lowest in western Europe, which has given rise to the term “the Glasgow effect”. Going beyond the poverty and deprivation that are the main causes of poor health in any society, the report flags up other contributing factors, in particular Glasgow’s controversial housing policy in the 1970s.Continue reading...