A panda down an alleyway. A dalek rusting at the bottom of the Clyde. Abstract geometry in a garden. It’s the wonderful world of Glasgow street and graffiti art.
Glasgow is famous for its modern art but its tradition of street art and public murals actually stretches back to the 1970s, when whimsical socialist-influenced murals were painted at the gable ends of houses. In the last five years street art has sprouted over the city, partly because of the 2014 Commonwealth Games and its associated cultural activities, and partly because of work and activities by artists and groups such as Rogue-one, Art Pistol, VELOCITY, Smug and Recoat. The result has been an explosion of vibrant, colourful murals and abstract art pieces across the city, created by a mix of home-grown and international artists.
Many are familiar and highly-visible but others require poking about alleyways, disused buildings, anonymous estates, residential streets and inward-looking hidden walls. Half the fun is exploring unknown areas of the city to hunt them down. In and amongst the authorised pieces are of course the fly-by-night pieces and galleries of abandoned spaces (see my previous post: The abandoned factory that became an illicit graffiti art gallery) . Their ephemeral nature means they can disappear as quickly as they appear, although usually they’re saved for posterity on the internet by the creators and by archive aficionados.
Amongst my favourites is the Parkead mural by the excellent Good Wives and Warriors. Their richly detailed piece is a celebration of Glasgow, helped by locals who contributed their ideas and memories to the project. I also love this mural partly because its was accompanied by the traditional Glasgow heckle and friendly wit. One frequent taunt was a “Have you no’ finished that yet? The Sistine Chapel was painted quicker!” from a passing bus driver. (Read this article for an amusing and heartening insight into open air painting in East Glasgow.)
Artistic quality is not always the point, sometimes a piece’s unexpected context escapes the limited confines of the photo frame. But hopefully this limited selection showcases the diversity and fun of Glasgow’s murals and street art. Art that have enjoyed while wandering about the city as opposed to being a full expert! More information on the works and the artists are available on the links below.
Further information: Glasgow graffiti and mural artists
Glasgow and Scotland graffiti: online archives and collections