The fleeting pleasure of a palimpsest exposed

Gillian Darley index

A building’s history is often hidden in plain sight for those with eyes to see. But occasionally a more intimate glimpse is briefly exposed

I am very partial to remnants. A remnant is not exactly a ruin. A ruin, such as the tragic abandoned Catholic seminary, St Peter’s Cardross, will continue to evoke its past and, inevitably from now on, something of the failed and valiant hopes for its future. The passage of time – not much time – and the marks of its use – not much use, either – are all written on to the ghostly segments of structure, a great concrete leviathan in the undergrowth. It is a kind of Glaswegian Mayan ruin.

Remnants are more particular, suggestions of something known or unknown. They are frequently transitory: the stripping back of an ordinary house, laid bare to all eyes for a week or two, before the works goes on, to demolish or obscure the detail or the structure in question.

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