I first met Chris in 1997 as a 13 year old in Sarajevo orphanage where he came to as a volunteer to teach the kids B/W photography in a specially constructed darkroom in the basement. It was only supposed to be a 3 month summer project that grew into a 4 year project for him, and with meeting him, turned into a 15+ year brotherhood.
According to Chris, I was one of the first kids back then who expressed an interest in the project and to learn photography. Apparently I ''spoke English and had a look of honesty that I wouldn’t steal any cameras''. From day one, I became Chris' right hand man and with the other students we all ran around documenting Sarajevo as it was slowly rebuilt after the war.
Chris and I have both worked together on a few short film projects and we always discussed, dreamed of the idea of making a feature length together which we made in the end, Finding Family.
Back in October 2016 I had a great pleasure to attend his latest book launch on ''Disappearing Glasgow''. A quarter of Glasgow’s high-rises have been demolished in less than 10 years. Throughout that time, Chris has photographed and filmed the condemned housing schemes of his home city for the Glasgow Renaissance project.
Glasgow is not just famous for its humour, its shipyards and its bold Victorian architecture, built in the days when it was the ‘second city of the Empire’. It’s also renowned as the home in the UK of the failed experiment with modernist architecture in the 1950s and 1960s - where those cleared from 19th century slums of the Gorbals and Govan were housed in vast tower block estates far from the city centre, devoid of facilities and a sense of community. Initially a huge improvement on existing living conditions, a lack of investment and poor build quality meant these bold visions of the future soon fell into neglect.
Chris examines Glasgow’s process of demolishing these contentious estates. For some they are blights on the city’s international reputation, for some an important attempt to redefine the way we live and for others they were home.
In addition to Chris’s stunning images, also included are six short essays by renowned architects, commentators and academics, further illuminating the conundrum of Glasgow’s modernist heritage. The result is a book that is stimulating, haunting and moving in equal measure.
Praise for Disappearing Glasgow:
'There's something about a still image of something gone wrong that's truly haunting. Perhaps to do with the age we live in, where everything is fast-moving and fleeting, that something grounded can have such a lasting effect. That's what Chris Leslie brings to the table in Disappearing Glasgow. FIVE STARS' The Skinny'Fascinating and highly emotive.' i-on'Fascinating and moving.' Scots Magazine'Photographer Chris Leslie documents this decline and fall wth steely-eyed honesty and unsentimental empathy. The result is both distressing and beautiful, an essay in what might have been and a lesson for anyone involved in the planning process.' Scottish Review of Books'The photographs are absolutely stunning, perfectly capturing the spooky, eerie atmosphere of buildings which have been left to time. The story which Leslie tells through his photo series involves the smallest detail, such as a lost lottery ticket or an old thermostat on the wall, but also panoramas of the Glasgow cityscape, being once someone's view. Two thumbs up for this book!' SkyHighCity'Chris Leslie is the foremost chronicler of the changing face of Glasgow over the last decade.' A Thousand Flowers