Day Twenty-seven: Modern Art, Museums and a Craft Market  

Since I was up at the crack o' and Irv was having a bit of a lie in, I decided to head over to the Gallery of Modern Art for a look-see. It is only ten minutes from the flat, and it's free, so why not?! It is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building with huge Corinthian stone pillars out front. Originally built in 1778 as a home for a wealthy tobacco lord, it has had many reincarnations before becoming the site of the city's repository for modern art in 1996. The collections on exhibit are as eclectic as one comes to expect in a modern art gallery. I always feel that, when viewing modern art, one must lay aside preconceived notions and try to appreciate what the artist is trying to convey with their pieces or installations.

 Back to the flat to reconnect with Irv and head over to Merchant Square for the indoor craft and design fair. It is essentially a good-sized craft market held in the same venue where we had eaten a couple of times - a large open space where the stalls are set up, ringed with a variety of different restaurants. Their slogan is "Merchant Square - where it never rains" and a perfect venue for a craft market!! We had a great time speaking to the vendors - Glaswegians really are such a friendly folk and love to talk! We even came across a man selling tablets who, when he heard we were from Alberta, told us what a big fan he was of the Hart family of wrestlers! BTW a tablet here is a delectable confection much like fudge but waaaaay better! We had already tried some on one of our tours and had to pick up some more. He even threw in an extra one for us!

 We next ventured over to the Lighthouse, where I was meeting up for my Street Art tour. The Lighthouse is a heritage building designed in 1895 by Glasgow's favourite architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the first building he designed. It was the home of the Glasgow Herald newspaper, until they vacated the premises, and it sat unused until 1999 when it was transformed into the Scotland Centre for Architecture and Design. It houses several exhibition galleries, including one that traces the history of Mr. Mackintosh and his connection with so many of the city's iconic buildings. There was also a gallery with an exhibit called "Furniture Music" which explored the sounds of mundane everyday objects viewed in a different light. One of the draws of the Lighthouse is the tower with the spiral staircase (200+ steps) that leads up to a platform which affords great views of the city. The tower originally held an 8000 gallon water tank, necessary due to the flammability of the printing presses.

 While I went off for my Street Art tour, Irv wandered about for a little exploration of his own. There were only three of us on the tour, which made it quite good, as our guide, Caron, was able to show us a few more places than she might have had the group been larger. We basically toured the central area and explored the sites of the different wall murals. The murals are part of a project to rejuvenate the city centre with art to create a greater sense of pride in the core. All of the murals are sanctioned by the City Council, and paid for by them. Artists submit their proposals and designs and then are provided with funds for materials and labour to complete their works. The first design was created in 2008, and the project has grown since then. There are several prominent artists whose work appears predominantly: Smug, RogueOne, Art Pilot, Ejek and Klingatron. They are exceptionally talented, creating these huge works of art on the sides of derelict buildings, and doing so in only a matter of a week or so. Smug created the stunning Fellow Residents of Glasgow in only two weeks. The push to add more murals continues, with a current project being the painting of a series of twelve portraits along the two sides of a dingy viaduct running under Glasgow Central Station. There are only three to date, but RogueOne is on line to produce nine more. They are all portraits of musicians who have performed at a local music venue in the tunnel called "the Arches" which was closed down in the late 90’s. Another series of three murals celebrates the life of Billy Connolly, Glasgow's world famous comedian. A sad sight was that of the mural called the Tiger, which has unfortunately been defaced by graffiti.

 One very interesting place we also visited on the tour was not a mural but a theatre, the Britannia Panopticon.  This is touted as the world's oldest surviving music hall, dating back to 1857, and having been the venue for singers, dancers and comedians to entertain the common folk of the city. At one point in its life it housed a carnival freak show on the main floor and a zoo in the basement! It is in sad need of repairs to bring it back to its former glory, but a group of dedicated citizens are working to do just that. In the meantime it serves as a place where there are regular showings of RuPaul's Drag Race, as well as a number of drag shows, along with other more mainstream entertainment such as films, story-telling, old movies.

 Our Street Art tour ended half a block from our flat, at the Ingram Street car park, where Smug painted the stunning "Fellow Residents of Glasgow" mural, depicting some of the animals found in the area throughout the four seasons. It is quite amazing to see the detail he has incorporated, from the wisps of hair on the red squirrel to the reflections in the eyes of the badger. It really is one of those things that has to be seen to be appreciated!

 One thing that Caron pointed out was a plaque on the former church across from our flat, which commemorates the fact that it was in this area of Ramshorn that our own John A Macdonald was born! Who knew!!

Met back up with Irv under the traffic cone-bearing Duke in front of GOMA and we headed off to suss out the airport bus situation. There is an airport link bus and a stop only ten minutes from the flat, but they are doing some construction in the area and there is a sign that says that stop is closed. More research necessary.

 Not having had any lunch we were feeling a little peckish, so opted to suss out some dinner. The restaurants in Merchant Square were chock-a-block, so we headed over to Blackfriar's pub for a pre-dinner drink and then decided to just eat there. Great steak and ale pie finished off with the requisite sticky toffee pudding for dessert!