Glasgow is getting the UK’s first IKEA flat pack houses as part of a new regeneration development at Gateshead. But what I really want to know is – can you put them together with an allen key, and will they fit in the boot of your car???
Kept up our attempt to visit a new place per week last weekend with a day trip back to Edinburgh – scene of our purse tightened initial stay in Scotland. We weren’t feeling museum/touristy sights inclined, so despite the very Glaswegian weather we wandered around the Marchmont area with Claire, visiting her haunts from the summer just past. We had packed a picnic and earned some very strange looks as we munched away in the Meadows with not much more than grey skies and the occasional shower for company.
On Saturday night the planets were obviously in alignment for the art world – four gallery openings within a 500 m radius beckoned. In the end it was lucky that there were multiple shows as each on its own was a little thin – it also helped to increase the availability and selection of free beer.
The galleries were all situated in Trongate, a slightly hip slightly seedy up & coming area between the Merchant City and the East End. After a few drinks at Mono – our hang-out of choice (and would-be regular if it wasn’t for the fact that we neither work nor live anywhere near it) we sauntered into our first show; ROR:POWERTRIP at Transmission Gallery. Produced by a Helsinki based collective (we were disappointed they weren’t around to network with for our trip to Finland later this year) the crew that badge themselves Revolutions on Request and look very rock on their web page had produced some fairly tame art. Highlights included a Donald Duck skull and a pile of foam police cars representing the pile up at the end of the Blues Brothers??? Personally I wanted to insert a personal revolution and dive head first into the pile to really stir up some debate.
Next on the list was our reason for being part of the circuit (the same faces popped up at each gallery we visited). After Human, was produced by young Glasgow based artists one of whom we have met. The work was set up in a funky shop front, and the ideas behind the individual pieces were interesting but with a total of only 7 exhibits (3 paintings, 3 video art installations and a sculpture) again there seemed to be a lack of content. The level of workmanship was a little below par â€“ leading to many debates about the relative merits of craft based vs conceptual art â€“ certainly the blurb provided enough examples of post-rationalisation to warm the heart of any architecture school graduate;
â€œâ€¦make work that explores metaphorically the production of artwork itself.â€
â€œâ€¦this work objectively examines how our surroundings mediate perception, and how this mediation in turn effects (sic) the contemporary art object.â€
Our friends work was some of the strongest there in my opinion (although I am difficult to impress when it come to video art so am probably biased) but my favourite work was the sculpture, a mdf replica of the table saw that was used to create the object. It lead me to J.G Ballardesque thoughts of power tools replicating and taking over the world one tool shed at a time, armies of drop saws and lathes wielding drills and nail guns.
Our third exhibition took us to the top of an old warehouse to the Project Rooms for Tronjan Horse by Grier Edmundson & Luke Collins. In a room painted black with blues painted stripes creating a Tron-like effect stood a gigantic white horse. This was the most professional show of the evening and also it seemed the most popular. Unfortunately this meant that the exhibit couldnâ€™t be appreciated properly as it took over the entire room but was packed with beer swilling punters (including a few Franz Ferdinand members spotted by an eagle-eyed Chhay). It is one that I will definitely try and get back to this week.
The final stop on our art roundabout was the highlight for me, an exhibition by local musician Rob Churm. His work is more widely known in a more urban sense as he regularly produces fliers for events and his own band Park Attack, as well as designing album covers (shown above) and the stand alone pieces that were on display. The fliers that were contained in a small folder were by far and away the most impressive part of the collection and it was a pity that a more innovative method of presenting them hadnâ€™t been employed â€“ it would have been great to seem the plastered up bill poster style â€“ or even harvested after some weeks on the street complete with graffiti and rival posters over and under layed.
We made a more concerted attempt at exploring Glasgow’s primary waterway this weekend. We started from the centre of town at Glasgow Green, home to the People’s Palace, Templeton Carpet Factory and enough rowing clubs to make me feel guilty at my current fitness regime.
Picking our way through the somewhat post-apocolytical industrial landscape that edges the river as it winds east, we took in abandoned warehouses, partly demolished tower blocks (below) and the grafitti trail of the Young Baltic Fleet all laced with a healthy dose of garbage.
Further out of town the landscape opened up and we were treated to more typically scenic vistas – although abonded steel factories and dark brooding whiskey bonds till lurked in the background. We finally broke free of industry at Carmyle as the weather closed in and the path turned to muddy slush. Battling through the muck with Chhay’s bright red Hunter wellies leading the way we cut through some beautiful countryside although to be fair we were probably too damp and weary to properly appreciate it. We were welcomed back to civilisation at Uddingston by a gang of neds lurking under a rail bridge, before catching the train back to where we started – the 15 minute journey contrasting strongly with our 4 hour walk!
A scret society of mummies is secretly taking over Glasgow, communicating to each other and impressionable souls via a smothering series of poster bills plastered on any available space. Perhaps the result of an unscrupulous Scottish Egyptologist unlocking a curse in centuries past? Or just another marketing gimmick – if so I’m not sure what it is trying to sell- no one I know has a clue what it is about..?
My attempts at exploring Scotland have been kept much closer to home for the last few weeks through a combination of laziness and pressing social engagements. We have manged a few ventures into a couple of nearby parts of Glasgow that we hadn’t visited previously, so my aim of seeing somewhere new each weekend has just been maintained.
Our first foray involved a day trip to the southside -subject to heated debate in the desirability stakes between locals and west-ender’s – in our office at least. We hopped on a train to a random destination heading south, alighted and wandered around with no particular direction. Our ramblings took us through Queens Park, down the much-vaunted Victoria Rd (pictured above), across to Pollockshields (not to be confused with Pollockshaws where we alighted), whiled away the afternoon in a delightful cafe before popping in to the interesting space of the Tramway for a spot of backgammon. We finished the day with the purpose for our venture south – a ‘pie party’ at a friend of Claire’s. While the southside of Glasgow is very pleasant I think the day cemented our flag in the West End camp!
Our exploration last weekend was somewhat more muted following a rather riotous night at Vegas, a monthly club on an old ferry parked on the Clyde in the dark recesses of the M8 expressway (Brisbanites think The Island and wince!) complete with Elvis money for the blackjack table and ol’ blue eyes and terrible show tunes at full volume.
Rising late we wandered east to Dennistoun – another area that we considered when looking for a place to live and much like the southside never got around to actually visiting. Food as usual was our top priority and our destination was Tapa a New Zealander run bakery/cafe with reputedly the best bread in Glasgow. Breakfast wasn’t fantastic although the bakery’s fit-out was quite cosy – and the appearance of a ‘flat white’ on the menu after many months brought some cheer. Chhay & I have resorted to quite a range of terms to attempt to obtain our caffeinated beverage of choice in the UK – a double shot latte, a cappuccino without the froth, a white coffee using espresso… generally without much success.
The call of the Glasgow Film Festival then lured us out of the East End to catch more of our overdose of Danish cinema courtesy of Claire’s volunteer involvement.