Fibres: Oral Histories of Asbestos

One of the amazing things about Fibres is that it is inspired by a true story and mirrors hundreds of similar stories which have been unheard throughout Glasgow, as well as the rest of the UK, about how asbestos has impacted people’s lives.

Clydeside Action on Asbestos have worked closely with Stellar Quines throughout the projects various stages. They are one of Glasgow’s primary support services for people impacted by asbestos, including those dealing with the impacts of mesothelioma. Phyllis Craig from the organisation is keen to share the stories of those living with the impacts of asbestos and we have collaborated with her to gather some stories from Glasgow on how the shipyards and asbestos are impacting people’s lives now.

Here you can hear from Tam, and listen to his story about working on the shipyards, his life after his mesothelioma diagnosis and the humour that he uses everyday to tackle his fear of the unknown.

The transcript of Tam’s story can be found here.

We asked Rosie Priest, our Creative Learning Associate, what it was like listening to Tam’s story:

“I was overwhelmed by the way Tam tackled his mesothelioma diagnosis with such humour, it really paralleled Fibres in so many ways. When Tam was chatting about the horrific treatments he underwent, he talked about nurses and doctors draining his lungs: and a container I christened a Gucci handbag. That really shook me, listening to this incredible man talk about his treatments, and how he identified his use of humour as protection against the reality of what’s going on.

He paints this incredible picture of what life was like working on the shipyards too: They gave you a little mask. And it looked like monkey’s face. And Tam talked, with genuine love, about what it was like to work in the shipyards. I think that’s really interesting.

We talked for almost two hours, but we had to cut some of what was said, because Tam and I ended up talking for a long time about his grandchildren and his love for travel. There’s something really special about talking to someone about their life, and the vulnerability of both of us opening up and talking. I’m still thinking about it. And will do for a long time to come.”

The transcripts will be shared with Strathclyde University Archive so that these stories will be available for everyone to access, forever, meaning the previously unheard voices of those living with the impacts of asbestos will be supported and shared. Just like with Fibres, this strand of Creative Learning will shed a light on the true stories surrounding Glasgow’s shipyards.