COP26 in Glasgow

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.

A Musical Month

I had a musical month in January with the 27th outing of Glasgow’s winter music festival, Celtic Connections. My volunteering role as an Artist Liaison meant that I met many great artists from near and far, heard some fabulous music, and met friends old and new amongst the many other volunteers at the festival, at many of the great venues around the city. A few of my favourites being the MacKintosh Church, St Luke’s and the Old Fruitmarket.

The 18 days of music and events brightened up the dark January nights for me with a great mixture of concerts, late-night sessions and even The National Whisky Festival at SWG3 where good food and whisky were to be found with loads of great food, especially that offered up at Julie’s Kopitiam at the Acid Bar

Americana was high on my list of favourite acts with concerts by Anais Mitchell and The Bonny Light Horseman at St Luke’s and the Old Fruitmarket, Frazey Ford, with support from Edinburgh’s Adam Holmes & the Embers.  One of my first concerts this year was with the Canadian Duo Cam Penner and Jon Wood at the Strathclyde Suite with the London based all-girl Bluegrass band, the Midnight Skyracer.

After listening to so much of it, I have starting to enjoy Traditional Scottish Folk music from bands such as the ever-popular  Ímar, who more than satisfied a capacity audience at the City Halls, Rura, The Ciaran Ryan Band, and many new and up and coming musicians such as Hannah Rarity, a new album was launched on the night by  Chris Gray at Oran Mor. 2019’s Danny Kyle Winners, young talented multi-instrumentalist Malin Lewis the ever-popular (and busy) Sam Mabbet from The Canny Band and Luc McNally showcased new work while supporting Miller, MacDonald & Cormier.

The Finnish ‘Nordgrass’ band Frigg supplied an interesting mix of Nordic tradition and American bluegrass in their music, theirs was a sell-out at the City Halls and judged by their CD sales on the night, were extremely popular.  The concerts are hugely popular with a mix of old oldies and the young, they make for a great fun night out.

The Roaming Roots Revue in the Old Fruitmarket saw a full house (following a full house the previous night at the Royal Concert Hall) being presented with ‘Born To Run’, a 70th-birthday tribute to The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, this was a fantastic night with Roddy Hart And The Lonesome Fire’s house band supporting guest singers such as Lisa Hannigan, Karine Polwart, Craig Finn, Jonathan Wilson, Ryan Bingham, The Rails and Glasgows own Phil Campbell.

I even managed to take in a little bit of soul with the fantastic J.P. Bimeni and his backing band, The Black Belts, who set Oran Mor on fire with a similar tremendous soul-filled set, it was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, and as another volunteer said: “That guy is a superstar, why have I never heard of him before?”

As usual, some street art appeared through the month with the St Luke’s and the Winged Ox mural by SMUG, and me finding a mural in tribute to late Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison by Alex Coyle, in Allison Street in the southside of Glasgow. Alex stated that he wished to raise some awareness for the charity Tiny Changes set up in Scott’s name following his death.

Also new this month is EJEK‘s latest in a series of pieces at the entrance of Ad Lib on Hope street, this time it’s a fine portrait of Aretha Franklin, it certainly is worth popping frequently as the mural at the door is changed by him on a regular basis.