Glasgow has always been a second home for Karen. A lot of her family are living there. She grew up riding the train to Glasgow for shopping trips and then to attend University. It was the city she moved to for her first job, becoming a Town Mouse for a number of years before moving down to London.
Glasgow has been a key part of John’s life. His first trip up from London was in July 2007. Ironically he felt so drawn to the city that one week later he sparked up a conversation with a Scottish girl visiting London that culminated in a long distance romance with twice monthly visits to the town of St Mungo.
So we think we know this city, but we do not. Glasgow is a chameleon. It started as a rural settlement before becoming the largest seaport in Britain. In the fifteenth century it added a University (University of Glasgow) and donned the mitre of being the centre of Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th Century.
The Industrial Revolution arrived and decided to make camp in the area. Overnight Glasgow and surrounds exploded into a workshop for chemicals, ship building, textiles and engineering.Post World War 2 economic realities hit home harshly as many of that industry was conceded to the resurgent powers of Japan and West Germany and it would not be until the late 90s that Glasgow took it’s penultimate mode – a Top 10 Tourist Destination.
During our last visit the Glasgow we knew has morphed again into a sort of Bohemian playground with Art both Inside and Out…
The Writings on the Wall
Glasgow now has a very strong Street Art game. It is slowly collecting new pieces and artists and gaining in recognition and street cred. It is no stretch of the imagination that it will evolve to rival the great powers of Street Art. In the words of Leonard Cohen…“First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin”.
Here are a few samples of what we uncovered during that last trip home.
Hip Hop Marionettes ( by Rogue One)
Shades of Beastie Boys vs Run DMC in this piece by Rogue-One on the end of a building on John Street in the Merchant City
Four Seasons ( by Smug)
These pictures do not do this mural justice. It feels so much alive and really brings the Ingram Street Car Park to life. Highly ironic piece as well due to Glasgow’s “Four Seasons In One Day” climate.
Badminton (by Guido Van Helten)
Keiran Merrilees is the muse for this piece on Wilson Street that was commissioned for the 2014 Commonwealth Games (held in Glasgow). The brick walls in this area act as amazing canvases for artists.
The above is only a sample. We stumbled upon them rather than seek them out. Thanks to some amazing work by others there is now a walking trail and host of online resources when we go back.
Comic Book Man
What does Judge Dredd, Lobo, Batman, Superman, The X-Men, Sandman and Kingsman all have in common? (apart from being Comic Book Characters that is!)
They have all been drawn by a local boy called Frank Quitely. For nearly 30 years Quitely (aka Vincent Deighan) has put pen to paper to create gorgeous renditions of those characters, telling new stories along the way.
Luckily for us the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum was putting on an exhibition of his work and Karen gave permission for us to attend this “geekfest” (her word not mine).
As well as that amazing artwork (both finished items and pencil drafts) there were interactive booths with video interviews of Comic Book stalwarts and fellows Scots Grant Morrison and Mark Millar discussing their work and admiration with their long time collaborator Quitely. It is worth mentioning that at one point in time while Superman was responsible for the safety of the the entire world – 3 boys from Scotland were responsible for him! Sounds as far fetched as anything but not really given the rich history of comic books in Scotland.
The Broons, Desperate Dan and the Dandy Comic (world’s longest running comic) and Oor Willie. In fact Desperate Dan and Quitely’s Superman share the same square jaw so it was great to see that influence. as well as his roots in Electric Soup with his homage to The Broons with the adult version The Greens. That rich history of comic books also includes the oldest one in the modern world:1825’s The Glasgow Looking Glass.
One of the best pieces was at the end of the exhibition. God of Comics aka Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Halo Jones, Watchmen) was featured in a portrait by Frank. Just look at those eyes! Amazing.
Unfortunately the exhibition was only temporary, even though it totally deserves a permanent residency somewhere. However Kelvingrove Gallery is still worth a visit as they have a plethora of other interesting pieces and exhibitions. From Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to a Native American Totem pole and a bit of Charles Rennie Mackintosh to a radical statue of Elvis Presley. And it’s Free Entry so why not?
After we spent the whole afternoon looking after our cultural appetites it was time to take care of our actual appetites. In Glasgow there is one culinary culture that is king above all others – the ubiquitous Indian Curry. Glasgow can lay claim to the first Chicken Tikka Masala and probably the best selection of Indian Restaurants in Britain. For tonight we would be going South Indian and popping along to Dhakin in the Merchant City.
And that was a thoroughly enjoyable day exploring the art of Glasgow. Or so we thought. Laura (Karen’s sister) had decided that we needed one more hit of excitement and booked us into the Escape Room around the corner. The plot was “A Murder in Whitechapel” as we navigated our way chasing down a murderer from 1800s London. Spoiler Alert but we did manage to escape in the end, back to the relative safety of modern day Glasgow.