by Dougie Wallace
In March 2017 BBC4 TV broadcast a 30 minute documentary about Dougie Wallace, focusing primarily on the Harrodsburg work and is part of the series What Artists Do All Day. The programme follows Dougie on the streets of Knightsbridge as he completes the photographs for the book.
‘What motivates my pictures is human behaviour. People’s interactions and emotions fascinate me. My stories are thematic; they have similarities of expressions running through them. My work is informed by societies trends and incongruities and translating what I see into wit, criticism and humorous vignettes. I’d like to think that my photos convey a point of view that believable and absurd.’
Dougie Wallace has been featured in magazines and newspapers, including, The Sunday Times Magazine, D Repubblica, Le Monde, NYTimes, Stern, The Guardian, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Independent, Observer, International New York Times, GQ, Dazed, Hunger, Vice, BBC, CNN, Itsnicethat, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, El País, Der Spiegel, Macleans, NZZ, Die Tageszeitung, Neon, dS Magazine – De Standaard. As well as numerous photography magazines, BJP, GUP, Amateur Photographer, Professional Photographer, F2, Fotografia Magazine, Lens Culture, Leica LFI, L’Oeil, Fotomagazine, European Photography and Photo International.
The project is a powerful, timely and stark exposé of the emergence of an ultra-affluent elite who have turned London into a global reserve currency, changing the face of our city, pricing out the upper middle class natives of Central London, excluding first times buyers from the city and marginalise old wealth from their time-honoured habitats.
While the UK’s economy was stagnant in 2012, £83bn worth of property was purchased in London without financing. With one in ten purchases made through secretive offshore holding companies, London is now recognised a prime haven for, in the words of our Prime Minister, “plundered or laundered cash”. Old communities are being uprooted and displaced, terraces and housing estates ripped out and replaced with overpriced wood and glass boxes. New enclaves of opulence are being created – Little Doha or Qataropolis – containing houses so resplendent that they render Buckingham Palace a bit shabby.
Kensington and Chelsea is the only area in the South East to buck the housing trend with 40% of properties empty. In a phenomenon dubbed ‘lights-out-London’, buy-to-leave absentee property owners are pushing up house prices without contributing to the local economy, adding insult to injury for the hundreds of thousands living in temporary accommodation or languishing on social housing waiting lists.
Through the prism of London’s lavish designer shops, resembling minimalist art installations, Dougie Wallace tells the story of glut, greed and the wealth gap playing out on the streets of a city which has seen a 400% rise in demand for food banks in the last year.
Harrodsburg, Wallace’s name for the area, which takes in Bromptom Road down to Sloane Square and up to The Ritz on Piccadilly, used to house London’s ‘posh’. But since the oil crisis of the mid-1970s, gulf millionaires began coming to Britain in larger numbers, settling first in Mayfair and later spreading to Knightsbridge. Joined by the Oligarchs and the Hedgies, this phenomenon has evolved into the various tribes of the global super-rich buying up London homes like they are gold bars, as assets to appreciate rather than as homes in which to live.
Eid Festival, or what has become known in luxury retail circles as the ‘Ramadan Rush’, is marked by the sudden and conspicuous influx of dozens of wealthy Arab royals and businessmen escaping the extreme summer heat of home. Flocking to their London residences with their air freighted million-pound-plus gold-plated Bugattis, some encrusted with Swarovski crystals, they infuriate the remaining long-term residents as they cruise around the area with their ceaseless noise pollution. Meanwhile their wives and daughters are weighed down with bling and shopping bags in the luxury retail spree that accompanies the season.
Employing his trademark wit and keen eye for the absurd, Wallace has produced an uncompromisingly revealing series of pictures which satire the super rich and their spending habits in uncomfortably intimate, gaudy detail.
START DATE: Nov 17th END DATE: Jan 5th
East London-based photographer Dougie Wallace grew up in Glasgow hence his moniker, Glasweegee. Internationally recognised for his long-term social documentary projects and a distinct direct style of expressive street photography. His books Stags, Hens and Bunnies, A Blackpool Story (Dewi Lewis Media, 2014) and Shoreditch Wild Life (Hoxton Mini Press, 2014) generated critical acclaim and a viral buzz. His book, Road Wallah, which offers a unique insight into the world of Bombay cab drivers was published in February 2016 and has been exhibited at numerous photo festivals and gallery shows. His latest series Harrodsburg was published this year (Dewi Lewis publishing). Harrodsburg has already had two major exhibitions as well as featuring in numerous national and international publications. Dougie is fully represented worldwide by INSTITUTE Artist & Management Company.
‘Living in Shoreditch has helped me develop an eye for the tragi-comic, messy side of uninhibited human behaviour. My Glasgow upbringing has shaped my style, which has been described as ‘visually exaggerated’ and ‘hard edged’.
START DATE: Nov 17th END DATE: Jan 5th
East Yorkshire, Hull HU1 2PQ, UK