Confronting the one per cent: The Glaswegian photographer snapping London's super-rich
14 March 2017
Dougie Wallace is an ex-Army Glaswegian turned street photographer. His mission is to 'shine a wee bit of a torch', or a pair of popping flash guns, on the exclusive streets of Knightsbridge where he snaps the ultra-affluent elite, the facelifts, the designer bags (and dogs) and the millionaire boy racers.
“Welcome to Harrodsburg. Home of the one per cent. Playground of the super-rich... The thing about the money is, it’s all out there. It’s all on display. It’s part of the whole show. So I’m just capturing that really.”
The area Dougie Wallace calls “Harrodsburg” is bounded by the luxury department store Harrods in Brompton Road, Sloane Square and the Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly. It is historically one of the richest parts of the country, and Qatar-owned Harrods makes the area particularly popular with Qatari tourists, many of whom rent or own houses there, as well as Saudis and Russians.
When the Doha News ran a story on Wallace's Harrodsburg collection, and how people might cope when confronted by the photographer, it caused quite a stir. One commenter even called him an “English moron”, despite his self-penned Glasweegee moniker.
But Wallace says he's simply on a wealth and privilege "safari" in a world where he can "spot the facelifts from the other side of the street". The Harrodsburg project grew out of previous work which juxtaposed photographs of people in taxis and buses in Kensington and Chelsea, and in the Calton district of Glasgow close to where he grew up. The serious point in that image series, made visible by the contrasting effects of deprivation etched on subjects' faces, was male life expectancy in the London enclave is 84; in Calton it is, at 54, the lowest in the UK.
Below, Dougie Wallace selects 10 images from his Harrodsburg collection for BBC Arts, alongside quotes that tell the story of the project.
All images © Dougie Wallace