Name: Joseph McKenzie


Date of birth: 19/03/1929

Date passed away: 05/07/2015

Joseph McKenzie, who has died aged 86, was known by many as the father of modern Scottish photography, well-known for his images of children in Glasgow's Gorbals, and regarded as a fine photographer and teacher.

He only used black and white images and his most famous, and sometimes controversial, works focused on urban decay.

Born in London in 1929, he was educated in Hoxton and then, during the war, at Cranborne in Dorset. After conscription, and regular service in the R.A.F. as a photographer (1947- 1952), he studied photography at The London College of Printing from 1952-1954. He was invited to introduce photography as a lecturer to St. Martin's School of Fashion, London, in 1954, and was later appointed Lecturer in Photography at The Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee where he established the photography department. He held his position there until he retired from the post in 1986.

Throughout his career, he has won international recognition and was elected an associate of The Royal Photographic Society in 1954, a position he held until he retired in 1973. In 1969, he was awarded third prize in The prestigious Nikon International Photographic Contest as well as becoming the first living photographer to be awarded a grant by the Scottish Arts Council.

As further tribute to the regard in which he was held, he was commissioned to photograph HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and Lord Mountbatten. He was one of the first photographers to put on a purely photographic exhibition in the UK, and later became one of the first to establish a private gallery in Scotland.

In 1965, he embarked on a series of major exhibitions with Glasgow Gorbals Children which were shown across Scotland.

This was followed by Dundee - A City in Transition in the following year, a series made to commemorate the opening of The Tay Road Bridge. Famously, it captured images of the city before it was transformed by developers who, he said, wiped away much of its architectural heritage.

He later exhibited Dunfermline and its People before Caledonian Images was toured throughout Scotland by The Scottish Arts Council in 1969.

The following year his Hibernian Images exhibitions caused controversy after it compared the lives of young people in Northern Ireland and Scotland. An attempt to censor his catalogue led Mr McKenzie to withdraw from public exhibitions of his work for many years. However in August 1987, The Third Eye Centre hosted a retrospective exhibition of his work entitled Pages of Experience; photographs 1947-1987 and a companion book was published. In 1990, he published another book to commemorate his works on Gorbals children: Gorbals Children: A Study in Photographs.

His works are represented in a small number of public and private collections, including The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust and The Scottish Arts Council.

His legacy will no doubt live on through his family.

Scottish artist Calum Colvin described him as: "A brilliant photographer and a generous teacher, he taught me a huge amount and helped me establish my career as a photographer".