I paid a visit to the inaugural Storytellers exhibition at The Glue Factory in Farnell Street on Saturday 23rd June.
This exhibition showcases Glasgow’s street culture and creatives, providing a space and a platform for artists to present their work.
There was a wide range of mediums on show, with something for everyone across the entire ground floor of the Glue Factory, from graffiti and paintings to sculptures and videos, there even was a wall where kids, of all ages, could express themselves.
I will admit that I took the wrong camera with me to the event, however, I still managed to get some good shots of works fromMack Colours, Ejek, Priest!, Chelsea Frew, Barry the Cat, Micheal Corr, and Ross MacRae. I loved the area Conzo & Glöbel had set up, this displayed their typical sense of humour, and I was mightily impressed by Mark Worst’s display wall. Saving the best to last, up high on the back wall of the space is a tremendous piece by GazMac, which highlights his status in Glasgow’s Street Art community.
I’ve been very busy lately, hence the lack of recent input to my blog. It all started with Yardworks, followed by volunteering at the Glasgow Mela, and this past weekend I was volunteering at Doune The Rabbit Hole festival, more information on each of these follows:
One of my favourite events is Yardworks, held at SWG3, this annual street art festival is one of my favourite weekends in Glasgow. The event, held on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th June, is one of Europe’s biggest dedicated to street art and graffiti – with artists and writers from across Glasgow, the UK and Europe coming together to paint and draw, creating an explosion of colour.
On the nearby railway arches, wall spaces and boards in the yard, the highly skilled artists including Smug, Ejek, Rogue One and many others worked side by side with some of the most celebrated names from around the globe – including Zurik, Bublegum, and Balstroem.
I was there on the Saturday with my mate Jim and his 10 year old grandson Jack and It was so good to be able to meet and chat with friends old and new, Jack was enthralled by the talent on display and expressed an interest in trying out some spray painting himself in the future.
Sunday saw me back again, this time with my friends Gary and Jan Gammage, it was great to see the works develop and to see the eventual finished articles. Gary & Jan were interested in the many different techniques used, spray paint, palette, brush and the use of stencils in the development of the pieces.
It was a brilliant weekend, great art, good food and fun in the company of friends, what more could you ask for.
Sunday the 26th found me in Kelvingrove park volunteering at the Glasgow Mela, an annual multicultural music and dance festival. The Mela began in 1990 as part of Glasgow’s year as the European City of Culture and has grown from being an indoor event at the Tramway to an outdoor extravaganza, with something for all the family.
I was assigned as the Artist Liaison for the Navras (main) stage, which kept me busy for the whole day. At this stage, we had a variety of acts, dance, music and performance arts. Amongst the acts that entertained me and the crowds were Deesh Sandhu, Hunterz and the headliner Jaz Dhami and his band.
Being busy for most of the day I missed out on some of the other activities on offer but did manage to grab a nice lamb curry for lunch from one of the many food outlets on site.
Doune The Rabbit Hole
Doune the Rabbit Hole is an intimate, independent music & arts festival located amidst the glorious ancient oak trees of the Cardross Estate, near the Lake of Menteith, in Stirlingshire. Starting in 2010, at a site near the town of Doune (hence the name!) they have been celebrating the very best of Scotland’s independent arts scene alongside amazing international guests. This year’s line-up included main stage headliners like the legendary Patti Smith and Band, multi-million selling Scottish singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald, homegrown, world-famous talent Belle & Sebastian, English post-punk duo Sleaford Mods and Bellshill natives and superstars Teenage Fanclub, one of my son Graeme’s favourites (the video below is for him). I really enjoyed the set by Esperanza, a Glasgow Ska band, they took me back to my youth.
I was the artist Liaison on the Bandersnatch stage which had a sort of folkie and blues vibes, and thanks to Chris Blackmore, the Stage Manager and Phil the Sound Engineer, the atmosphere there was pretty chilled and relaxing and we had some really entertaining artists on stage including The Mary Wallopers, Rachel Sermanni and John Francis Flynn, it was good to see and listen to Erin Bradley-Scott perform, Erin is one of my favourite art groups, The Cobolt Collective, she certainly is a talented lady. It seems like I can never get away from street art and artists, I even came across a nice piece by Ross MacRae next to the Jabberwocky stage, I really like his work.
There was also some exceptional food on offer, although there was a crew canteen I gave it a miss at times to sample the fare from Barnacles & Bones, Shawarmarama, and the Pizza Geeks.
As this was a weekend camping festival and I didn’t feel like camping, I decided to book a room in Willow Court, one of Stirling University’s halls of residence, overall this was a great choice. Another great weekend and I’m looking forward to heading back again next year
I ventured out today to find something new and was pleasantly surprised that a couple of old favourites are still there and looking fairly good.
My first stop was in Govanhill where Conzo Throb & Ciaran Glöbel created ‘A Postcard from Govanhill‘, the first mural in the Govanhill Open Museum art trail. The mural, which contains patterns from Middle Eastern tiles, Romanian fabric, Scottish tartan and ‘wally close’ tiles, represents a different aspect of the diverse local community and is very reminiscent of a similar one created by them in Dennistoun.
Maryhill was my next stop, where I went looking for a new(ish) mural by Mack Colours and Frodrik on Stockline Plastic’s building on Hopehill Street, it really is well worth a visit to see it, the company are delighted with it and In their opinion, it makes a wonderful addition to the impressive collection of murals around the city.
Whilst in the area, I popped along Maryhill Road where I photographed a piece by Ohpanda in theBraeside Community Gardens, a nice big fish from Frodrik on the front of a building near the corner of Cowal Road. At the end of the building, you will find the little Scottie Dog and Bumble Bee and across the road, there is the Glasgow Panther, both created by Rogue One and Ejek way back in 2014.
Never mind the Birdman of Alcatraz, we have our own talented Birdman here in the southside of Glasgow. While out shopping the other day I came across some fine pieces on the soon to be demolished Shawbridge Arcade in Pollokshaws, which apart from a lonely bookies shop, is almost derelict. The pieces, mainly by Mack Colours and Frodrik, certainly brighten up the area. I spoke to one old lady resident who stated that “that boy sure knows his burds, he shoud’a done this years ago“. With some other pieces from Glasgow’s TapendTef and Mul-Draws, who is on a visit to the city from Newcastle, the murals are now drawing people to it and the area. It’s a shame they will disappear when the arcade is gone. UPDATE The murals also attracted the attention of the local newspaper, you can read their article here
A couple of days earlier whilst in Glasgow I spotted a couple of nice pieces by Frodrik in the Trongate area, showing his new ‘Blue Period’, one of a dog on Trongate and one of his stunning monochrome portraits on Hutcheson Street, both are up to his usual very high standard and are well worth a look. What I did like to see was a piece by Mul-Draws, who I met at Prefab77’s exhibition at Yard Life last week, it’s good to see these collaborations, I believe Frodrik and Mack Colours reciprocated by visiting Newcastle, recently.
I took a trip into Yard Life at SWG3 last night to see the new exhibition by Prefab77 (AKA Peter Manning). A Slice of Life, which is Peter’s first solo Scottish show, is a stunning series of portraits in a mixture of print, acrylic, spray paint, wheatpaste and varnish which creates a dark world of Gangs, Goddesses and Groupies, woven into pure, rock and rebellion. I had a good blether with Peter, a thoroughly nice guy, who stated that he loves Glasgow and is looking forward to returning in June for Yardworks 2022, I would love to see him in action then.
It was really good to see many of the Glasgow based artists visiting last night and to catch up with them, I look forward to seeing the many new pieces they were discussing when they appear.
On my way to the gallery, I walked down Haugh Street and on hearing some good music coming from a doorway, I peeked in to be surprised by some really good paintings of well-known chefs, by the style it looks like the work of Rogue One. It turned out to be the Dockyard Social, who state that they are the best street food traders Scotland has to offer, providing a taste of global comfort food, it certainly looks like a place I will return to.
I have been quite busy recently volunteering at the COP26 conference in Glasgow, I was based in the City Chambers in George Square in a Protocol role, this basically was a meet and greet role at the many Civic Receptions being held there. It was good to see the reaction of many of the delegates to the mosaic of the city’s coat of arms at the entrance to the building, and the many other mosaics found throughout the building, on the ceilings and domes, with an estimated 1.5 million individual tiles used and laid by hand. However, the greatest surprise was shown by many delegates when confronted by the marble staircase, made entirely from imported Italian Carrara marble, they were stunned to hear that it’s the biggest of its kind in Western Europe, meaning it’s one storey taller than the one in the Vatican City.
COP26 gave some of our artists a chance to put up some new related works with some on the arches at SWG3 facing towards the SEC Campus. Although I was disappointed to see Guido Van Helten’s badminton player disappear from Wilson Street, I was pleased to see a new mural by the Fearless Collective showing the faces of indigenous leaders who have been at the forefront of the COP26 conference. If you look closely at the top of the mural you can see the top edge of the shuttlecock, a little bit of Guido’s legacy left behind.
While travelling around the city during the conference, I did manage to catch some good street art, with an especially nice piece by Frodrik at the side of CASS Art on Queen Street, a good mural about youth homelessness in Midland Street opposite James Kling’s portraits, but what really pleased me was a little charcoal type drawing of a figure in a doorway on Candleriggs, I noticed that as I made my way down the street after having a rather good pizza in Nonna Said with it’s ghood artwork by Conzothrob, he also pooped up in the St Enoch Centre with a funadvert for the new cinema there. I’ve also included a mural from Mikaku on Queen Street painted by Rogue One.
For my latest trip I stayed south of the river, starting off at the Barn at the Crossroads in Laurieston to see the latest works by EJEK and the kids who visit there, EJEK again displayed his love of Stan Lee’s creations with some Marvel inspired pieces on display. From the Barn it was a short walk to Commerce Street in Tradeston where I came upon a fine piece by @sprayprince on the side wall of the Turning Point Scotland building, it paled slightly when I turned the corner and saw the wonderful mural on the front of the building,
Continuing west found me under the Kingston Bridge where I wandered into a little skatepark built there, almost all of the bridge supports had some form of artwork on them, and judging by the layers of grey paint the council and the writers are keeping each other busy, while there I saw works by Frodrik, Mack Colours, OhPanda, Negative Destination and many other regular names from Glasgow’s streets.
I then headed down to the river bank for a stroll along the footpath there until I reached the Science Centre at Princes Quay, there is loads of new developments taking place in the area and I was pleased to find a nice mural by EJEK on one of the hoardings surrounding one development. Crossing the river heading towards town for a bus home, I had to stop on Custom Quay at the Broomielaw to see if there was anything new, to find only one significant piece which intrigued me, on returning home I checked out the artist and his organisation called Make Coffee not War, and the reason for his mural, I found it all, and the drone footage to be quite interesting.
My next trip out started in Sauchiehall Lane, where I had been heard of a mural by Mark Worst, I found it at the rear of Broadcast next to another of OhPanda’s Big Heids, I must admit that they are in a location I wouldn’t normally visit, but I thought the work by both of them were worth the effort.
My plan was to go from there down to the Broomielaw and head back into the city along the riverbank, while there it was good to see Smug’s swimmers, a large mural he created for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I also revisited the mural created in 2019 by the Cobolt Collective, featuring words by Glasgow poet Liz Lochhead, to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Glasgow’s Doors Open Days Festival.
Further along the Broomielaw I discovered a little monument to the merchant ships lost during the Spanish Civil War, I wasn’t so much interested in the politics behind it, but as an ex merchant navy officer, I thought it was touching how it celebrates those British sailors who, in open defiance of the British Government’s wishes, risked their lives to run the blockade of Spanish ports to deliver much-needed food supplies to Republican territory during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Further along Custom House Quay there is La Pasionaria” with her arms outstretched and her face raised in a gesture of defiance. La Pasionaria” (“The Passion Flower”) was the pen name of Dolores Ibárruri, a Spanish Republican politician, communist, and prominent anti-fascist propagandist during the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939. Her statue was commissioned by The International Brigades Association of Glasgow as a memorial to British citizens who served in the brigades during the war.
My trip to the riverbank was finished off by a look at the many pieces of graffiti on the Clyde Walkway, this almost seems like the nearest thing to a legal wall in Glasgow and although to many it looks ugly, I can see some talents emerging, one of whom is Frodrik, his tribute to the rapper MK Doom stands out, he is one of Glasgow’s rising stars, another who pops up regularly is Negative Destination, his cartoon characters certainly add some bright colour to the area, his “The Beast Tamer and his Best Friend” on the hoarding round the Lidl store on Jamaica Street is a bit of fun, his comment on it was “When you see a long wall the only option is to fill it with a long ass painting”.
Into the city for some shopping and lunch before heading for home after another nice day in the city, On the way home I got off the bus in Victoria Road to visit Westmorland Street to see a mural in a little park, depicting what the South Side community means to the local children, the works created by them were faithfully recreated by artist Beth Shapeero and mural artist Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng on the wall of a tenement building where the old Hampden cinema and Claddagh Club once stood.
From the 11th of June until the 11th of July, I was busy volunteering at the EURO’s in Glasgow. Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the event was postponed and held this year. There were two volunteering streams, one for Hampden and the other for the Fan Zone, which this year was held in Glasgow Green instead of the intended George Square.
I applied for both streams and was lucky to be selected for both. We were all kitted out with a nice uniform and were well looked after during the event by both of the management teams, with meals provided and a free rail travel card for use during the tournament.
I was at Hampden for the four matches held there and had great fun with 2 girls, at one of the main entrances to the stadium greeting the fans as they arrived, once all the fans had entered the stadium we were then able to go and watch the games, I must admit that I’m not much of a football fan, however I suppose the occasion got to me and I did enjoy what I saw.
I was really comfortable in the Fan Zone, in addition to showing the games on match days on three giant screens, there was also a series of concerts and gigs to suit everybody, we had some really good bands, street theatre, comedy nights, a series of concerts by local school kids, who surprised every one with their talent, there was a cinema night and we even had The Queens on the Green Drag Show. I was on duty for many of the concerts as an Artist Liaison, a role I have performed in the past.
As this was, for many of the 300 or so volunteers in the Fan Zone, this was their first taste of freedom following the lockdowns, it was good to see so many happy and smiling faces, although not amongst the Tartan Army, who were a wee bit dejected when their team were put out of the competition. It was a really fun month and I enjoyed meeting old friends and making loads of new ones.
Being in the midst of the lockdown with not much to look forward to in the near future, I decided to take a look back over the last few months. January was pretty much taken over by my volunteering role at this year’s Celtic Connections, which has become an excellent start to my year and one I hope I am able to continue with.
February was a bit of a mixed month, I became involved in volunteering at athletics events and spend a great deal of time at the Emirates Arena helping out at events for European, British and Scottish Athletics. Again this is a role I would wish to continue, at the Scottish Athletics events I was allocated a variety of roles designed to provide me with the skills to enable me to become a member of the Scottish Athletics support network, some of it was a wee bit strenuous for me, but it was all great fun and very rewarding, I especially loved being up in the gods with the photo finish team.
The last week of February and the first week of March found me volunteering at the Glasgow Film Festival, a new one for me. This was great fun, I got to meet a great bunch of people and managed to see some great movies (and a few I wished I hadn’t seen), I really loved Michael Caton-Jones’ “Our Ladies”, an adaptation of Alan Warner’s The Sopranos, telling the story, set in the 1990s, of a group of schoolgirls who get an opportunity to go into Edinburgh for a choir competition, but they’re more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up than winning the competition. A real fun-filled movie with some great music. Another favourite this year was “5 Is the Perfect Number” an old fashioned Italian gangster movie, again with a good score. Another music-themed movie was This World Won’t Break it was good to meet Josh David Jordan, the Writer/Director and Greg Schroeder the Actor/Musician who played the main character. One of the strangest events of the festival though was the concert in the CCA, the Glasgow Percussion Collective Plays Bjork, 3 guys playing various percussion instruments, a Double Bass, and the talented Rachel Lightbody providing the vocals, a weird combination for a film festival, but good nonetheless. This is another event I think will be added to my rota of annual events.
Following the Film Festival it was straight into Aye Write, Glasgow’s Literary Festival, I managed one attend one event before the festival was cancelled due to Coronavirus, however, I enjoyed my one night with the authors and look forward to next year.
I had many things planned for April, May and June, including foreign travel, a return trip to Orkney, and a couple of street art festivals, all now cancelled or put on hold.
One positive of the lockdown was the time to sort out my collection of photographs from my many travels of the last few years, during which I discovered that I hadn’t posted the photographs of the street art I discovered during my trip to South East Asia last year, I will pop them up online soon.