Hi Jimmy!

DSC08471 (2)

I saw this sculpture towards the end of my walk along the Clyde and back through Anderston during my recent visit to Glasgow. Made from plasma cut sheet steel, a technique that’s used in the traditional local industry, shipbuilding, he three figures represent “local heroes” – Tom Weir (a climber, writer and broadcaster), James Watt, of steam engine fame flanking a modern figure representing former communist and shop steward Jimmy Reid.

Born in the Gorbals in 1932, Jimmy was one of the leaders of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Work-in which took place between June 1971 and October 1973, a  response to the decision of Ted Heath’s Tory Government to shut the yards.

In a speech to the shipyard workers he said

We are not going to strike. We are not even having a sit-in strike. Nobody and nothing will come in and nothing will go out without our permission. And there will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying because the world is watching us, and it is our responsibility to conduct ourselves with responsibility, and with dignity, and with maturity.

The campaign was successful and the Government backed down, keeping the yards open. Alas, few are left today.

Jimmy left the Communist party, joining the Labour Party. Later, disillusioned with “New Labour” he defected (sadly) to the SNP. He died in August 2010.

Who’s exploiting who in the deep sea?

DSC08395

During my recent visit to Glasgow, after I’d visited the Lighthouse I took a short walk round to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Housed in  a Victorian Neo-Classical building it has 4 galleries which showcase modern and contemporary art.

The main gallery, an impressive large hall, was occupied by an exhibition of works by the German artist Cosima Von Bonin.

The GOMA website tells us that the exhibition

brings together a series of works from 2006 onwards exploring the artist’s affection for the creatures of the sea. Working with textiles, music, sculpture, performance, video and painting, her practice is varied and often collaborative in nature.

I was tickled by this photograph on display in the entrance hall.

IMG_20160424_162848

Imaginative use of a very simple “found object”.

Although the artist had employed various media, including audio recordings, I thought that the most interesting works were those featuring fabric, anthropomorphic sea creatures.

IMAG4489_BURST001

 

DSC08397

DSC08398

2)whatson%20rotator

DSC08399

Art Nouveau in Anderston

DSC08465

Heading back to my hotel after my walk along the Clyde, I spotted this very distinctive Art Nouveau style building in amongst the modern housing blocks, so I wandered over for a closer look.

It’s a solid almost fortress like building – a strong Scottish Baronial influence – but with a number of decorative features, including sculpture and mosaics, very typical of the Art Nouveau style on the front of the building. The side elevation is plainer, no doubt as they would have been less visible when it was built as I expect that it would be hemmed in by other buildings across a narrow street.

DSC08468f

DSC08470

The decoration above and around the front doorway was particularly elaborate, as was the cast iron gate (I assume that this is original).

DSC08466

The writing above the door revealed that this was originally a branch of the Savings Bank of Glasgow and some research on the web revealed that it was built between 1899 and1900, and was designed by James Salmon, junior and J Gaff Gillespie (Salmon, Son and Gillespie), with sculpture by Albert Hodge.

The sculptural elements and mosaic above the door are particularly fine.

DSC08466

DSC08467

There’s some information about the building, which is Grade A Listed, here and here.

It’s always a pleasure to come across something unexpected during a walk.

Modern Buildings on the Clyde

DSC08444

My hotel in Glasgow was just a short distance from the Clyde and on Monday evening I decided to get outside for a walk.

Not that long ago the banks of the Clyde were thriving as a major centre of shipbuilding, but not today. It’s hanging on by its fingernails at the Govan yard owned by BAE Systems but other than that there is little evidence of the industry which employed thousands of workers.

Walking south from my hotel following the M9 I reached the Clyde where the motorway crossed the river and turned right to follow it downstream towards an area that has been regenerated in recent years.

There was some evidence of the area’s industrial past.

DSC08442

The Titan Crane , on the north bank of the river, is now a visitor attraction

DSC08446

The giant 150-ton cantilever crane was erected around 1907 on the west side of the fitting-out basin of the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank. The refurbishment has been carried out in time to celebrate its 100 anniversary. The crane was used to lift the engines and boilers into numerous warships, as well as vessels like the Lusitania, Queen Mary, Britannia and the QE2.

I crossed over to the south bank via the Clyde Arc, better known as the “Squinty Bridge”

DSC08447

I walked past the BBC Scotland building (I’d seen the local news broadcast from here during the morning on breakfast TV). The architect was David Chipperfield who also designed the Hepworth in Wakefield.

DSC08458

A little further south, on the former Prince’s Dock, is the Glasgow Science Centre, designed by the Building Design Partnership. Standing next to it is the Glasgow Tower  designed by Richard Horden, with engineering design by Buro Happold and an IMAX cinema.

DSC08451

On the north bank the Clyde Auditorium, better known as “the Armadillo” is probably the best known of Glasgow’s modern buildings and something of an “icon”. It’s distinctive design is meant to represent a series of interlocking ships’ hulls, commemorating the Clyde’s shipbuilding heritage.

DSC08448

It was designed by Foster & Partners and opened in 1997

DSC08462

Nearby is the most recent of the buildings, the SSE Hydro arena, also designed by Foster and Partners. It’s a 12,500-capacity arena used for major concerts and sporting events.

DSC08463

Emmet Kane at Collins Barracks

DSC08327

While I was visiting the Collins Barracks in Dublin recently, although my main objective was to see the Easter Rising and Asgard exhibitions, I took some time to have a quick look round in Decorative Arts section of the main building. Tucked away in a series of rooms in the south east corner of the 2nd floor was a temporary exhibition featuring the work of the Irish woodturner, Emmet Kane. I almost missed it, but the above piece caught my eye as I was passing and I decided to take a look. It was a good decision.

The Museum website tells us that

Emmet was born and raised in Castledermot, Co. Kildare. He comes from five generations of Master Craftsmen. Self-taught, Kane creates thin-walled hollow forms which defy the difficulties of the medium and whose use of colour, is more readily associated with ceramics or glass. Today, he works predominantly in native hardwoods, citing a particular fondness for Irish oak, which he textures and ebonises, gilds and colours. At times, his work looks like glass or plastic, even metal, until you draw near and see the texture or grain and wonder just how it was achieved.

DSC08346

The exhibition is a retrospective, featuring a large number of works, divided into sections

It provides a good survey of his work and shows how his technique and approach has developed and evolved.

DSC08345

I guess I’d normally associate woodturners with practical objects like furniture and bowls. But that isn’t what Emmet Kane does. He produces abstract forms that don’t have any practical use but are extremely  imaginative and beautiful

DSC08335

Some of the earlier works are more functional but over the years they become more and more abstract with holes and voids, spikes and the incorporation of pigments, metal and lacquer

These are some of my favourite pieces from the exhibition, but there were many more..

DSC08341

DSC08343

DSC08330

DSC08332

To the Lighthouse

DSC08392 (2)

No, not a review of the novel by Virginia Woolf, but a report of my visit to the Lighthouse centre in Glasgow last Sunday. I was up there for a Conference that started on Monday but had to travel up the day before. Arriving and checking into my hotel around 2 p.m., I had a few hours to explore the city centre.

I’m an admirer of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and have visited most of the main buildings he designed in the city. The Lighthouse

Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, is a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow, just off the Style Mile. The Lighthouse acts as a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland and promotes design and architecture through a vibrant programme of exhibitions and events.

It’s located in the former Glasgow Herald building the first public commission worked on by Mackintosh. At the time (1895) he worked as a draughtsman in the architectural practice of Honeyman and Keppie . They were responsible for designing a warehouse at the back of the printing office of the paper in Mitchell Street. He is unlikely to have been responsible for the whole of the building, but probably designed the tower – a prominent feature – which originally contained a water tank holding 8,000-gallons of water to be used in the event of a fire. A little ironic, perhaps, given the major damage caused to his most important building, the iconic Glasgow School of Art, which was very badly damaged in May 2014 when a fire broke out.

DSC08360

It’s a tall, narrow building with office and exhibition space. There’s a shop selling Mackintosh related merchandise on the ground floor with the main exhibition spaces being on the next couple of floors.

I started by making my way up to the Mackintosh Interpretation Centre or ‘Mack’ Centre, which “celebrates Glasgow’s most famous architect and explores his life and work”  which is located on the third floor.

DSC08375

It’s a relatively small, but informative and interesting, exhibition that tells the story of Mackintosh’s work with examples of furniture and other objects he designed and photographs, drawings and models of his buildings around Glasgow and it’s environs.

DSC08374

DSC08364

 

DSC08365 (2)

DSC08369 (2)

 

After looking around I made my way up the stairs to the top of the tower which is now a viewing platform. It was a serious climb up a long spiral staircase. This what it looked like from the top

DSC08378

From the narrow outdoor balcony there was a view out over the rooftops of Glasgow. It’s not exactly Paris, though.

DSC08376

In the other part of the building there’s an indoor viewing gallery, only accessible by lift. So I made my way down the spiral staircase (easier than going up!) and took the lift up to here. There was a similar view over Glasgow but I was also able to get a good look at the water tower.

DSC08382

Mackintosh type style and ornamentation were certainly discernible in its design.

Then I went to have a look in the exhibition galleries. The main exhibition showing at the moment is Weather Forms which

presents art and architectural works that challenge the popular idea that ‘people make places’ by demonstrating that they, in fact, make us.

DSC08384

There was also a small exhibition on one of the landings, Weaving DNA

an immersive textile exhibition borne from a collaboration between Icelandic product designer Hanna Dís Whitehead and Scottish textile designer Claire Anderson. Together they re-appropriate traditional Nordic and Scottish textiles, examining the ways in which these represent and shape aspects of national identity.

I thought it was interesting with the exhibits imaginatively displayed, even if the space was a little cramped

DSC08389

DSC08388

DSC08385