The Glasgow City-Centre Murals Trail / Glasgow Street Art Tour
I don’t know about you, but I love graffiti. Not the poorly-executed, gratuitous, uninspiring and meaningless daubs which carelessly deface someone’s property. Maybe I shouldn’t call it ‘graffiti’, with so many negative connotations. Maybe ‘Street Art’ is a better definition for something which is found on the street and is undoubtedly ‘art’. So, there we are, I love Street Art!
Street art is visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. Other terms for this type of art can be “urban art“, “guerrilla art“, “independent public art”, “post-graffiti”, and “neo-graffiti”. Common forms and media can include spray paint graffiti, stencil graffiti, wheatpasted poster art, sticker art, street installations, and sculpture. Video projection and yarn bombing have also gained some popularity near the turn of the 21st century.
I first became aware of Street Art in Glasgow when my son-in-law took me under the Kingston Bridge to show me the truly awesome ‘Swimmers’. It was (and still is) massive! Created to highlight the forthcoming Commonwealth Games (2014) it really is a stunning piece of artwork. So, I shot it, then got it printed on a four-foot canvas as a gift for the aforementioned son-in-law.
The next piece that I discovered was the fantastic ‘Skull & Squirrel’ at the Kelvinbridge Subway Station. I love this piece, it is just so appealing to me. I even did a model shoot at night using the artwork as a backdrop. Still one of my favourite pieces.
Doing my tours around Glasgow, I became increasingly aware of just how much high-quality street art there is in the city, and that got me thinking. If I love this Street Art, then surely others would too, and let’s be honest, this stuff is just SO photogenic. So, after a lot of walking around the city and a bit of research, the Photo Walk Scotland ‘Glasgow Street Art’ Tour was born. You can read more about one customer’s experience – this is the write up from Scotland travel blogger (and local Glaswegian) Neil Robertson.
Setting this tour up was made considerably easier thanks to Glasgow City Council advertising their ‘City Centre Mural Trail’ which helped me to find one or two pieces that I hadn’t previously known about. The City Council have to be congratulated here. It is they who have commissioned most of the artwork, even setting up a fund where prospective artists can find funding and suitable locations. They are working hand-in-hand with landowners, property-owners and the artists themselves, and are actively encouraging something which would have seemed unthinkable in the not-too-distant past.
Glasgow’s latest foray into the world of Street Art has attracted a lot of attention, both at home and abroad. BBC Scotland and the Art Pistol Project, took the extremely bold decision to commission three very well-known Scottish artists to produce a piece of artwork in order to celebrate the 75th birthday of one of the city’s most famous sons, Billy Connolly.
Works by Jack Vettriano, John Byrne and Rachel McLean were duly produced and then recreated on three separate buildings around the city centre, all over 50ft high! There is even a BBC documentary all about them. Great viewing….and the murals are fantastic!
So why did Glasgow City Council get involved in the subversive world of street art?
‘The street murals are helping to rejuvenate streets and revitalise buildings and vacant sites that look a bit tired, reincarnating them as beautiful pieces of public street art. The first art work was produced in 2008 and this portfolio of completed works has expanded since. The murals are also having a major impact on our city centre by creating splashes of colour which brighten up lanes and streets. This helps make them more inviting for locals and tourists alike.’
Whilst I freely used the ‘City Centre Murals Trail’ as my starting point in organising the tour, our Glasgow Street Art Tour is so much more comprehensive. There is an awful lot more Street Art than is advertised on the official trail, with new pieces are being added regularly, (not to mention quite a few which have since disappeared). There are also one or two pieces which have not been sanctioned and are a little less obvious than St Mungo on the High Street, for example.
Rogue One, Smug, Ejek and Klingatron are just a few of the local street artists to look out for around the city. The variety, scale and quality of the new ‘Glasgow Boys’ (and girls) work speaks for itself. Come and join our Glasgow Street Art Tour and see for yourself!
Postscript. I had originally written this blog in July 2017 but hadn’t got round to posting it. In August 2017, Glasgow City Council got in touch to ask if they could recommend my Glasgow Street Art Tours as they were being bombarded daily by requests for information on the Mural Trail, including info on guided tours. Photo Walk Scotland now features in Glasgow City Council website, and as a consequence of this, has also been picked up by Glasgow Life.