Having grown up and lived in Glasgow most of my life, I have watched it transform from a rather unattractive post industrial weed into a colourful bloom, worthy of its place in the cultural garden of Europe. As part of its reinvention, this 'Dear Green Place' on Scotland's west coast is gradually learning to capitalise on the talented art and design scene that has always been present in the city but not always marketed as one of its major assets. Creative studios have been reclaiming historical buildings, world class museums now attract visitors from every part of the globe and public art has appeared all over the city.
I moved out of Glasgow almost 3 years ago and each time I return I notice more changes, some subtle and some designed to make a bolder statement. The street art scene in the city has exploded over the last few years and this artistic development made such an impact on me it was the very first topic I wrote about on this blog!
With my blog turning 2 next month I decided it was time to revisit the street art of Glasgow that first inspired me to put finger to keyboard to find out how it has been progressing and I'm glad to report that almost 2 years on, we are both flourishing!
These days, Glasgow's street art has spread its graffiti tentacles all over the city, however a walk around the centre provides a good introduction to the diverse range of murals that have been commissioned since 2008 to brighten up neglected spaces. The nature of street art means that new pieces appear while other pieces disappear; it is an every changing open air gallery which can be enjoyed for free by anyone at anytime. I'm a huge fan of the murals and judging by the amount of people that were clicking away on cameras and phones next to me, I'm not alone.
If you want to find out more about the Glasgow city centre street art murals, here is an introduction to some of the main artists and venues.
Street Artist - Smug
Smug One (aka Sam Bates) is an Australian born street artist based in Glasgow and as you walk the streets of the city it is hard to miss his enormous works of art that often adorn entire gable end walls. His pieces are completed freehand using aerosol cans and in my humble opinion he is one of the most talented street artists in the world. Here are a few of his most prominent works in the city centre.
Venue - Tennent's Wellpark Brewery
Smug is also the street artist responsible for the huge mural outside Tennent's Wellpark Brewery in Duke Street. The images are largely based on the various Tennent's Lager ad campaigns. Eagle-eyed fans of Scottish actor Sam Heughan may have noticed his portrait below. For those that don't know, Sam played Hugh Tennent, the pioneering founder of Tennent's Lager, in a series of their adverts.
Street Artist - Rogue One
Another popular local artist is Rogue One (aka Bobby McNamara) who grew up in Glasgow and has evolved from a teenage graffiti tagger to creator of some of the city's most iconic street art. Here are a few examples of his work to look out for.
Venue - Strathclyde University 'Wonderwall'
The UK's biggest outdoor mural can be found covering the walls of Strathclyde University in the area around George Street. Known as the 'Wonderwall' it covers more than 1000 square metres and even has its own hashtag #Strathwonderwall. The artwork is a collaboration by local artists Rogue One and Ejek.
Venue - The Clutha Bar
The Clutha Bar is the second oldest pub in Glasgow and has been voted as one of the top three pubs in Glasgow for live music. In November 2013 it was the scene of a tragic accident when a police helicopter crashed into roof of the pub, killing 10 people. It could easily have been the end for this city institution but in a display of Glaswegian resilience and spirit, the bar reopened, complete with a new 50 metre long mural depicting some of the famous faces that drank or performed there in the past. The mural is another collaboration by Rogue One and Ejek.
No-one in the city will ever forget what happened here, but as a Glaswegian I'm glad that the Clutha has found a way to move forward and acknowledge its long history without being defined by the tragedy that occurred here.
There is so much street art in Glasgow these days it is impossible to fit it all on one blog without it being the longest blog ever! I've included a few more images from around the city centre in the slideshow gallery below, although I've only managed to touch upon the amount of talented artists and creations out there. On the positive side this means that there are still plenty more surprises for you to discover when you walk around the streets of Glasgow.
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