Saturday, February 11th 2019
To celebrate Tigger’s birthday, we are spending a few days in the beautiful Scottish city of Glasgow. The map below shows its location relative to London. You can click on this map to see a live Google Map of the same area.
Glasgow is one of our favourite cities and we have visited it three times already: see Glasgow 2008, Glasgow 2012 and Glasgow 2017.
Glasgow is a Scottish city but it has its own character which makes it unique. The etymology of Glasgow is uncertain. The settlement was probably founded in the 6th century when the area formed part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde and the king, Rhydderch Hael, invited St Kentigern, also known as St Mungo, to build a church and set up a community there. According to the most frequently cited etymology, the name is formed of two words in the Cumbric Celtic language, glas, meaning ‘green’, and cau, meaning ‘basin’ or ‘hollow’. An alternative etymology takes the name Glasgu, which is attested in the 12th century, and derives the second element from cu, meaning ‘dear’ in Welsh to interpret the name as ‘Dear Green (Place)’. According to The Old North, this ‘is probably folk etymology based on the early form Glasgu (12C), which gives modern Gaelic Glaschu.’ Whatever the etymological validity of this name, it has become widely popular and ‘Dear Green Place’ is now a commonly cited pseudonym for Glasgow.
Glasgow on the map
(Click for Google Map)
The journey is quite a long one (at least by British standards), taking about five-and-a-half hours from London Euston to Glasgow Central. That is assuming that the journey went to plan which, unfortunately, it did not.
We left home in plenty of time in order not to have to rush and to be able to have breakfast at the station while waiting for the train. At Euston station, we breakfasted in Café Rouge and then betook ourselves to Caffè Nero, intending to wait there until it was time to catch the 9:43 Glasgow train.
Fortunately for us, Nero has a live train departures board. Casually glancing at this, Tigger saw with a shock that our train had been cancelled! It was now about 9:15 so we hurried into the station to find someone who could advise us what to do.
The advice was short: go to King’s Cross and take a train there. Fortunately, King’s Cross is only a couple of stops from Euston by bus and it didn’t take us long to transfer. Enquiring what to do next, we were told to take the Edinburgh train that was about to depart. We hurried aboard and found it nearly full. We had reserved seats on the Glasgow train but these were of course not valid on this train. We found a couple of seats that were reserved from Newark and sat in those for the time being. Perhaps the seats’ owners would fail to appear.
No such luck: at Newark we had to give up the seats and find somewhere else to sit. Tigger found a couple of seats that were reserved but unoccupied and we took those. This time we were lucky: no one claimed the seats and we could remain in them until we reached Edinburgh.
At Edinburgh, we transferred to a local train for Glasgow. There is a slow train that goes to Glasgow Central and a fast train that goes to Glasgow Queen Street. The Glasgow Central train would be more convenient as our hotel is near that stationy whereas the Queen Street train would convey us there sooner but require us to drag our bags a longer distance to the hotel. In the end we chose the fast train.
Disembarking at Queen Street Station, we walked from there to our hotel. This is the Glasgow branch of Motel One in Oswald Street, just around the corner from Central Station. As we had reserved in advance, registering was soon done and we took the lift to our room on the 9th floor. (I felt a little nervous about being so high up having just read in the news about a hotel fire in which several people had died.)
Our room is ’modern functional’ and quite small but the bed seems comfortable and there are all the usual facilities, including plenty of power points. There is a double socket either side of the bed so we can recharge our devices without using our extra-long cables which we always bring just in case.
We did a minimum of unpacking and then made tea. It’s strange how sitting on a train for five or so hours can be tiring but it was good to relax and rest.
In the evening we went out for a stroll and to find somewhere to have supper. We eventually chose a South Indian restaurant called Dahkin in the Merchant City district. What is now called Merchant City was once the business sector and contains warehouses and office buildings that are no longer required for their original purpose. So Merchant City is being redeveloped as an area for the arts, culture and entertainment.
After our meal at the Dahkin, we took a stroll through the city, renewing our acquaintance with it and taking a few photos. I include some of these below.
Buchanan Street and St George’s Tron Church
In this picture we are looking along Buchanan Street towards St George’s Tron Church. This was built in 1808 and still functions as a church, unlike several others that have found new destinies outside religion. The word Tron in the name refers to Trongate, the name of one of Gasgow’s medieval streets and, to a certain extent, of the area around it. Trongate was at the dentre on the ancient city which has, of course, expanded considerably since then.
The amazing Art Nouveau Peaock is a massive work of art in metal positioned on the front of the Princes Square Shopping Centre. The building itself dates from 1840 but was converted to its modern use in 1986. The Peacock was installed as part of this work. The combination of early Victorian architecture and Art Nouveau-inspired metal work certainly gives one pause for reflection!
Glasgow Central Railway Station Bridge
also known as the Hielanman’s Umbrella
Glasgow’s main station, Glasgow Central, is famous for its enxtensive bridge which spans Argyle Street. In turn, the bridge is famous for its nickname, the Hielanman’s Umbrella (the Highland Man’s Umbrella). I explained the origin of this name in my account of our visit to Glasgow in 2017 and you can see it by clicking here. The area under the bridge is quite dark, needing to be lit by artificial llighting and efforts are being made to enliven it by encouraging retail and other businesses to set up there.
This is just one section of Argyle Street which is quite long and is one of Glasgow’s main shopping streets. Many of the ‘usual suspects’ (well known trading brands) are present and may in fact have several branches in various parts of the city.
If my caption for this building is somewhat vague it is because I do not know anything about it other than what is visible from the street. No doubt Victorian, it seems to me a typical example of the beautifully styled buildings which abound in this city. I am always intrigued by buildings with turrets as I have a hankering to live in one, an ambition as yet to be fulfilled! This one is inhabited on the ground floor by a branch of Caffè Nero. This chain of coffee shops has a number of branches in the city, most of which we have visited at some time or other, mainly for our usual breakfast of croissants and coffee.
In this view we are looking along Trongate towards another famous landmark. The name Trongate derives from gate in its common northern British meaning of ‘road’, ‘street’ or ‘way’ combined with tron, a Scots word for a steelyard or weighing machine such as were often sited in or near markets. See, for example, the Dictionary of the Scots Language. On the left, glowing pink in the evening light, is the Tron Steeple with its clock. The Steeple was built in 1637 as part of the Collegiate Church of St Mary and St. Anne. The church was unfortunatelyburned down by drunken members of the Hellfire Club in 1793 and only the Steeple survived. A replacement church, designed by James Adam, was built in the following year, leaving the old Steeple an orphan.
I mentioned the Merchant City district above. This building, called Merchant Square, is part of it. If you have a magnifying glass and good eyesight, you might be able to make out the date 1886 on the pediment.
Candleriggs and the Ramshorn Church
This view is along a street with the evocative name Candleriggs to the Church of St David, better known to Glaswegians as the Ramshorn Kirk. As for the name of the street, the first part is easy to explain: a candle maker’s business did once exist here. The word riggs is less easy to explain and I have so far not found an explanation of it unless the entry for rig(g) on this page in Scots Words and Place-Names provides a clue.
Nor do I know how the church acquired the soubriquet Ramshorn. It was built in 1824-6 as the Church of St David but was sold in 1982 to Strathclyde University to serve as a home for its Strathclyde Theatre Group.
In Wison Street stands this grandiose porticoed building. At present it is draped with lights, something that could never have occurred in the days of its more serious duties as the Sheriff Court. The sheriffs have moved on to a more modern venue, leaving their old home to be repurposed as a retail and residential block.
Glassford Street with Glasgow City Chambers in the background
My last photo before we headed back to the hotel shows a view along Glassford Street. The tower in the background belongs to a major building sited in St George’s Square. Built in 1888 to a design by William Young, it is the Glasgow City Chambers, home of the city council.
We now made for Motel One and our temporary nest on the 9th floor where we rested in readiness for more adventures on the morrow..
Copyright © 2019 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.
Saturday, March 23rd 2019
After a restful night we arose to confront our second day in Scotland. We have decided to spend it in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. We have visited the city before (see Glasgow 2012 – Day 8) but such single visits can never exhaust what a town like this has to offer. The map below shows the location of Edinburgh and our path there from Glasgow. Click for a live Google Map.
Glasgow and Edinburgh on the map
(Click for Google Map)
As we are not having breakfast at the hotel, we went to the nearby branch of Caffè Nero for coffee and croissants. Then we crossed the road to Glasgow Central Station where we bought train tickets to Edinburgh. Not seeing Edinburgh on the departures board, we enquired and were advised to go to Queen Street Station where trains to Edinburgh were more frequent. We walked to Queen Street and took an express train to Edinburgh Waverly.
Edinburgh is an ancient town whose origins are no longer known. The modern name seems to derive from an earlier name, Eidyn, which may have been the name of the settlement itself or of a wider area. This was later combined with the Anglo-Saxon word burh, meaning ‘fortification’ or ‘fortified town’. The Gaelic name of the town, Dun Eideann, comes from Eidyn joined with dinon, British Celtic for ‘fortress’. The meaning of Eidyn, which appears in combined forms in other placenames, is not known..
We did have a few places in mind to visit (more about those below) but, apart from that, we had no agenda and wandered more or less at random. This produced the photos shown below.
From Edinburgh Waverly Station we trekked up the sloping Cockburn Street. It is lined with fine old houses but there are also lots of shops.
Leading off it are a number of alleys or passages called ‘closes’. One of the most spectacular is this one, called Warristin Close, which consists of a broad staircase. It is named after Archibald Johnston, Lord Warrington. who lived there for a while.
This is a narrower, perhaps more intimate ‘close’. It is called Jackson’s Close, after one John Jackson whose family occupied a house here from about 1570 to about 1893 when they eventually sold it.
The somewhat unpleasantly named Fleshmarket Close originally served the purpose you would guess from the name, being the site of the meat market. This close runs on both sides of Cockburn Street and the photo shows the southern section that leads from Cockburn Street into the High Street.
Looking back down Cockburn Street
Shortly after the point shown above, Cockburn Street bends to the right and joins the High Street, delivering us roughly in the middle of a more or less straight succession of roads called the Royal Mile. This is the main tourist area as is rendered obvious by the crowds and the gaggles of people being shepherded about by tour guides.
Looking east alonf High Street
The High Street is broad and contains or links to some of Edinburgh’s most historic landmarks.
You would of course expect to find a memorial of some kind to Adam Smith (1723-90), given that he was born in Fife and spent most of his life in Scotland where he wrote and published his most famous opus, The Wealth of Nations. The statue is a bronze by Alexander Stoddart and was unveiled in 2008.
Courtyard, Edinburgh City Chambers
Attracted by the handsome façade of the Edinburgh City Chambers, we enterred the courtyard to take a look. Built in 1753-61 as the Royal Exchange, the Chambers are now the home of the Edinburgh District Council.
If you look carefully into the right far corner of the courtyard, you might be able to make out an interesting object.
Monument to General Stanislaw Maczek
Bronislaw Krzysztof, unveiled 2018
The statue, by Polish artist Bronislaw Krzysztof, represents the Polish war hero, General Stanislaw Maczek (1892-1994). You will find more about his history here and an account of the background to the creation of the memorial here.
In case you are wondering, yes, I was persuaded, reluctantly, to have my photo taken sitting next to the general and, no, I am not going to show you the photo!
St Giles is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and belongs to the Church of Scotland. Founded in the 12th century, the building underwent episodes of rebuilding and other vicissitudes until its last major restoration in Victorian Gothic style in 1872-84 by William Hay. An outline history of the Cathedral will be found here.
We now came to the first of the three places that we had intended to visit. This was the pleasantly styled Victoria Street. It was built in 1829 to 1834 to plans by Thomas Hamilton in ‘Old Flemish’ style. It was intended to enhance the Old Town and its gentle curve and colourful shopfronts make it one of Edinburgh’s most visited locations. We followed the raised walkway and then rejoined the street below via a staircase at one end.
Our second must-see destination was the Scottish National Gallery. Of course, it is doing that institution far less than justice to pay a quick visit as we did today. One could dedicate a whole day to it alone. Equally, it is impossible to collect a ‘representative sample’ of the works held there and the three shown below were grabbed more or less at random.
Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the fury of a stag, by the Intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald 1786
This romantically conceived and overly flamboyant scene was executed by the American painter Benjamin West (1738-1820) at the behest of Lord Seaforth, head of the Clan Mackenzie. It refers to an incident when the Irish exile, Colin Fitzgerald, during a hunting expedition with the Scottish King, allegedly saved the latter from injury by an enraged stag. Rewarded with lands by the King, Fitzgerald became the founder of Clan Mackenzie. Whatever the merits of the painting as a painting, this is a piece of shameless ego massage, according ‘heroic’ stature to the founder of the clan, and thus to his descendants. Of all the ways of flattering the ego, surely those that involve the suffering and pointless killing of animals are the most contemptible.
Interior of the National Gallery of Scotland about 1867
This painting, ascribed only to the ‘Scottish School’ (i.e. the artist is presumably unknown), gives us an intriguing glimpse of the gallery in which it is hung as that gallery appeared in the mid-19th century. For good measure, it includes some art students dutifully making copies of the masterpieces.
Paul Gaugin, 1899
Immediately recognizable as a work by Paul Gauguin this painting is entitled Three Tahitians. Nowdays, Gauguin’s works sell for high prices but ironically enough, when he died in 1903 he was virtually destitute. Of this painting the Scottish National Gallery writes ‘Three three-quarter length figures stand out against a vivid, colourful background. Two women flank a young man, seen from behind. They may be offering him a choice, possibly between vice, symbolised by the apple, and virtue, symbolised by the flowers. This suggestion ties in with the allegorical character of many of Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings in which ideas from different cultures are fused together. Gauguin used the same two young women as models in other paintings made around the same time, during his second period in Tahiti from 1895-1901.’
Exterior, Scottish National Gallery
As we left, I photographed the exterior of the gallery though it is not seen at lits best at present, the view cluttered with barriers and other accoutrements of building works.
Known simply as Jenners, this department store has been a retail and social landmark in Edinburgh since it was first opened by its founder, Charles Jenner, in 1838. It was acquired by House of Fraser in 2005 and this year it was announced that it is to close as the company ‘restructures’. I suppose it is possible that someone might take it on as a going concern but that seems very unlikely in the present economic climate. Perhaps it will find a new destiny as an office or apartment block or a shopping centre, conserving the famous exterior if not the interior.
We went for a look inside and I took a photo where the light well allows a view down several levels. While I have to admit that I rarely if ever buy from stores like this, I still find it sad that Jenners must close.
We now went in search of our third chosen location. This took us away from the crowded tourist areas into some quieter streets. One of these was Thistle Street. We were looking for number 25c.
And here it is – Henderson’s Vegan Restaurant! Time was when if you found a vegetarian – never mind vegan – restaurant, you would be pretty much on your own there. This is no longer the case. The vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are catching on and restaurants are proliferating. Henderson’s was virtually full when we arrived. ‘Do you have a reservation?’ they asked. We didn’t but they kindly managed to fit us in. Several customers who came in after us were not so lucky.
So what special dish do you eat when you go to Scotland? Why, haggis, of course! If you are not vegetarian or have become so only recently, you may not be aware that there are vegetarian and vegan versions of this primordial Scottish dish. In that case, you may like to try it if it is on the menu of your favourite eating place. It was on the menu at Henderson’s and so we took it.
After lunch, we went for another walk but time was getting on and we were beginning to feel that we had seen the best of the day.
We found ourselves approaching a park or garden called St Andrew’s Square. In the centre of it stands a column, lofty enough to be visible from many streets away. A tall, straight column with a human figure on top can only remind the observer of Nelson’s column although this one is roughly a third shorter (42.6m as opposed to 52m). The interesting thing about such a prominent monument is that the man that it celebrates was by no means univerally liked or approved of.
Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742-1811) was a politican, sometime MP for Midlothian and Minister for War. He opposed the abolition of the slave trade and was accused of misuse of public funds, though never found guilty. How could such a man come to have such a prominent monument? It seems that he was popular among the armed forces, many of whose members contributed to the subscription for the monument, and he enjoyed the good will of those to whom he had shown favour. A fuller description of his life and activities will be found on The Melville Monument.
There was still much more to see in Edinburgh but we felt that we had done enough for one day and Edinburgh will no doubt still be there if we decide to pay it another visit in the future. For now, we turned our steps towards Edinburgh Waverly Station and took a train back to Glasgow.
Copyright © 2019 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.
Sunday, March 24th 2019
Having made what one might call an obligatory visit to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, we feel justified in spending today in Glasgow. Though Edinburgh attracts the most notice and is a prime tourist destination, we much prefer Glasgow. Perhaps not being the capital has allowed it to evolve naturally into the beautiful city that it is with its own unique character.
The first order of business was breakfast. For this we went to what has become our usual breakfast place while in Glasgow, Caffè Nero at 91 Hope Street (on the corner with Waterloo Street). Not far from the hotel, it is well placed both for the railway station and for buses to various destinations.
The weather today is rainy and blustery, so it is just as well that we have chosen an indoor location to visit. Whenever we come to Glasgow, we pay a visit to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and that is our main activity today. As it opens only at 11am on Sunday, we spend a while relaxing in Caffè Nero, watching those who are less fortunate than ourselves hurrying past on their way to work!
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
We finally bestirred ourselves and took a bus that deposited us within sight of the Kelvingrove. This magnificent building, purpose built for the role it performs, is worth visiting for its own sake. As you no doubt guess, it was named in honour of William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (1824-1907), more often known simply as Lord Kelvin, the distinguished Scottish mathematician, engineer and physicist.
When a larger home for the city’s museum became a necessity, its design was put out to competition, the judge being Alfred Waterhouse, the architect closely associated with the Gothic Revival. He chose the design presented by London architects John W Simpson and E J Milner Allen and the new gallery opened in 1901.
Sited on the main road, the Argyle Street entrance is now the de facto main entrance though I beleive that it was the intention of the architects that that honour should belong to the entrance in Kelvingrove Park (see below). For notes on the style of the building, see my comments to the photos of the Kelvingrove in Glasgow 2012 – Day 3.
Admission to the Kelvingrove is free (though donations are encouraged) and photography is allowed except in some special visiting exhibitions containing works whose copyright is not owned by the museum. Below are some photos that I took during our visit. It is of course impossible to do the institution justice with so few photos and these are just a few samples which I hope will encourage others to visit the Kelvingrove for themselves.
Arriving from Argyle Street takes you straight into the huge entrance hall. At present this accommodates a very large visitor, a diplodocus skeleton known popularly as ‘Dippy’ that is being taken on a road tour around the UK – the first time it has left its home territory in the London Natural History Museum since 1905. It will remain here until May 6th 2019.
The skeleton of the diplodocus was attracting a lot of attention – understandably so, as it is an impressive sight. Imagine, though, how much more impressive it would be clothed in flesh and alive! For more information on this wonderful beast, see here.
The open-plan design of the museum provides the visitor with striking views, such as this view of East Court from an upper floor. The heads are an installation by Sophie Cave, entitled, appropriately enough, Floating Heads. There are plenty of articles online about this exhibit, including this one.
The name of the institution indicates that it is both an art gallery and a museum. If the order of the terms is significant, then it is first and foremost an art gallery. While some exhibits are obviously artworks and others are obviously museum pieces, there are many that could be both at the same time.
This ‘harness’ – a word used to designate a suit of armour – takes its name ‘Avant’ (meaning ‘forward’) from a repeating inscription on the breastplate. One of the oldest surviving suits of armour, it was made in Milan in the 15th century. For more details, see this BBC article.
In this view of West Court we see items that not often appear in such close proximity, including a preserved elephant and a World War 2 Spitfire fighter aircraft, to mention but two. It is the Spitfire that has claimed the most attention (just type ‘kelvingrove spitfire’ into your Web browser to see what I mean) while the poor elephant hardly rates a mention. Yet, a world without Spitfires would be a far better one than a world without elephants.
Griselda was the heroine of a story of faithful love in Boccaccio’s Decameron and Alfred Drury has represented her charmingly in a style recalling Renaissance sculpture.
You would expect the Kelvingrove to be strong on Scottish heroes and, in this, it does not disappoint. Patric Park (1811-55) sculpted the famous Scottish economist and philosopher, Adam Smith (1723-90), long after his death and from portraits, presenting him in the guise of a Roman grandee. I liked the way in which the bust seems to be admiring its reflection in the glass.
Sir Walter Scott
Francis Chantrey, 1841
Also a writer, but in a rather different vein, Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) retains undimmed his reputation as a writer of historical novels and a foremost representative of Scottish literature. The sculptor, Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey (1781-1841) was, a little ironically perhaps, English.
Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson
John Mossman, date unknown
A hero, not in letters but in stone, Alexander Thomson (1817-75) was Glasgow’s greatest architect of the mid-19th century. He acquired the nickname ‘Greek’ because of his frequent use of Greek designs and motifs in his work. This bust of him is by John Mossman (1817-90), prolific practitioner and teacher of sculpture who was given the accolade of ‘Father of Glasgow Sculpture’.
Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham
Jacob Epstein, date unknown
Finally, an early-modern political Scottish hero, though whether you consider him a hero would depend on which side of the political divide you inhabit. Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936) stood on the left of the political spectrum, becoming the founder and first president of the Scottish Labour Party in 1928. Here he is portrayed by Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), the American born and raised son of Polish Jewish immigrants who travelled first to Paris and then the England where he settled. The portrait deliberately exaggerates his subject’s facial features, such as the eyes and beard, to give an impression of energy.
Perhaps intended as the main entrance, this doorway arch is surmounted by a group of statuary by Sir James George Frampton. It represents St Mungo, founder of Glasgow and, later, its patron saint, here represented as a patron of the arts.
Visiting an art gallery and museum of the size of the Kelvingrove is like attending a banquet: no matter how deliciously tempting the sustenance on offer, there is a maximum that you can absorb without suffering the pangs of surfeit. Having ‘dined’ on the Kelingrove’s fare without nearly exhausting what it has to offer, we took our leave, departing by the Kelvingrove Park entrance. As we had walked a considerable distance within the gallery, a seated occupation seemed indicated, though one with some interest to keep us entertained. And so we went for a bus ride.
We eventually decided to stop and return to town. I took the above photograph so as to mark our turning point, for what it’s worth, on the map. If you live in Glasgow you might know where it is. All I can say is that it is somewhere along Gallowgate.
We returned to the hotel but rather than shut ourselves away in our room, we decided to sit in the lobby, which is quite comfortable and serves the dual purposes of lobby and cafe. We relaxed there over coffee until it seemed late enough to think about supper. We set out to search for a suitable place and happened upon a pub called the Sir John Moore and run by Wetherspoons.
Returning to the hotel, we found it lit up for the night. Taking a photograph of it seemed the least we could do in response. After which the lift whisked us up to our nest on the 9th floor for a well earned rest.
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SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.
Monday, March 25th 2019
Today is Tigger’s birthday in celebration of which we have made this trip to Glasgow. It is also our last day here and so we have only a short time left before we take our train to return to London.
We checked out of the hotel (a simple matter of handing in our key-cards) and asked them to keep our bags until later. They were happy to oblige. As usual, we went to the Hope Street branch of Caffè Nero for breakfast and then walked to GoMA, Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, which we wanted to visit before leaving. It was not yet open so we went for a stroll.
We stayed a while in George Square which was apparently named after King George III and was first set out in 1781. In the centre (visible in the photo) is a an 80 foot (24m) high column with a human figure on top. Erected in 1837, it is the monument to Sir Walter Scott, who arguably did more for Scotland that George III ever did.
We returned to GoMA just before opening time. There were already quite a few people waiting to go in.
Difficult as it might be to believe, this splendid neo-Classical building was commissioned as a private house. It was built in 1778 for William Cunninghame of Lainshaw, a tobacco merchant who made a fortune trading in tobacco and slaves. Since his time, the building has served several different uses and acquired some alterations and additions. It has been a bank, the Royal Exchange (during which period it acquired the famous Corinthian columns) and the Stirling Library (part of Glasgow District Libraries). In 1996 it opened as Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, a role that it continues to perform with distinction.
The Duke of Wellington Monument
In front of GoMA stands an equestrian statue. Erected in 1844 and sculpted by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti, it is probably the best known monument to the Duke of Wellington anywhere in the world and it has become the de facto symbol of Glasgow. Thirty or so years ago, some prankster had the idea of putting a traffic cone on the Duke’s head. As you might expect, the city council removed it. Someone immediately replaced it and the battle has gone on ever since. When a plan was announced to protect the statue from further ‘coning’, a protest movement sprang into being and, to cut a long story short, the city has apparently surrendered and accepted that the Duke will henceforth and forever wear a cone. (See, for example, this news report.)
Around the plinth there appear four bronze plaques, modelled in relief. These tend to be overlooked in the fuss made over the Duke’s unofficial the traffic cone headgear and so I reproduce them below. Were they also produced by Carlo Marochetti? I do not know. They no doubt represent historical events but I have been unable to locate any explanations of them.
When the gallery at last opened its doors, we went inside among a group of eager visitors who had been waiting outside as we had. Below are pictures of just three artworks that we saw within.
Niki de Saint Phalle, 1992
Here is what the label told us about his object:
This work plays on the English word ‘vase’ and the French word ‘vache’, meaning cow. A duality of light and dark, which often appears in de Saint Phalle’s work, can be seen in the two sides of the vase. This duality also extends to its use, as a vase or as a museum artwork.
Dummy, Piglet and Wanton Seed
Nick Evans, 2011
Thus spake the label:
Nick Evans’ works comment on our relationship with architecture, design and the everyday. Organic plaster forms sit on – or in one work seem to be stepping off – wooden stools or plinths handmade in walnut. These plinths evoke early 20th-century furniture designers and artists’ appropriation of non-Western spiritual objects to make new works, then considered bold and ‘exotic’.
(Here, as is so often the case with modern art, I can see little relationship between the verbal description and the artworks themselves. Perhaps this because I lack imagination or because the comments err on the side of wishful thinking. You be the judge.)
Bookshelf and Glass sculpture
Ettore Sottsass, 1990s
Ettore Sottsass is a designer of ‘statement furniture’ and many of his creations appear in galleries around the world. These items have been in the collection held by GoMA since it opened in 1996.
My last object is not technically a work of art but could almost qualify as one.
The model was made (maker unknown) in about 1996 when what had been the Stirling Library was converted into the Gallery of Modern Art. The label notes that some staircases that appear between galleries in the model were never actually built.
Leaving GoMA, we still had a little time before we needed to go to the station, so we went for a stroll down Buchanan Street and took a few more photos. This one shows a building that I only know so far as ‘131 Buchanan Street’. Who built it, for what purpose and when are facts that have so far eluded me. It is a very handsome structure on a corner site.
Similarly with this one at 91 Buchanan Street. Though squeezed in between two other properties, it stands out with its neat red and white decore and the decorations in relief. The tree logo on the pediment suggests that this was once a bank or an assuance company office but more than that I cannot say.
Looking north along Buchanan Street
With a last look along this busy main thoroughfare, we turned back to the hotel where we collecred our bags before making for the station and boarding our train back to London.
From our first visit to this unique Scottish city, Glasgow made a place for itself in our hearts. Repeated visits have increased our fondness for it and I am sure we shall return to explore it further.
Copyright © 2019
SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.