Thomas was born in a house on the High Street on April 4th 1765. His family move away when he’s 17 but he probably goes into digs in the city while at University. After he’s kicked out of school he leaves town for a while but keeps coming back again and again.
Relationship with place
6 generations ago on my dads side a strand of my family were living and working as weavers in and around High street where Thomas was growing up. The area was a real mixture then, and continues to be now. It’s where the University was until 1846; it’s also where Duke Street prison was until 1955 and where the Herald newspaper was printed until 2003. I walk through this area every day on my way to the studio. The street splits the city centre from the residential east end of Glasgow.
Part of the prosecution’s evidence against Tom in 1793 was that he asked a street musician outside his family’s shop on the High street to play ‘Ah! ca ira!’ An old rebel song sang right from the outset of the French revolution. The words translate to ‘We will win!’ The recorded allegation show that songs and attitudes from revolutionary France had made their way into Glasgow life and were being expressed in the street pretty freely.
It shows remarkable continuity then that you can still hear dissenting song on the High Street today. This year (2009) I’ve watched hundreds of Loyalist and Republican supporters parade down High street on separate walks, performing songs that proclaim, to everyone that wants to hear, their own commitment to a dissident political voice.
I live and work in Glasgow. In 2009 I applied for and received a £1000 award from Glasgow City Councils Grant to Artists Scheme to help launch this square and support my research on Thomas Muir. Triggered by this application I try to carry my compact camera with me as I walk from Queen Street Station in the city center to my studio in Dennistoun in the east end. Other photographs in the series were taken while on cross over projects or on special outings to pick up supporting shots.