Posts Tagged ‘glasgow’

Photo: Chenyao Liu.
Elsa Barron speaks at Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light’s Faith Climate Summit, where she was moderating a panel on environmental justice, Oct. 10, 2021.

No group of people is monolithic. All individuals have their own individual views. Which is why we should never assume anything about people who identify with a particular group.

An ESL teacher I work with attends a congregation where almost everyone’s politics are X although hers are Y. She sends her daughter to their school because she loves it overall, but she teaches her daughter some differences at home.

I’m sharing an article that gets into religion just because I thought it was interesting, but if it offends anyone, I hope you know you can tell me. It’s about a small but growing group of American evangelical environmentalists.

Erika Page has the story at the Christian Science Monitor.

“Should I stay or go? It was a question Elsa Barron had wrestled with on her own for years. Now, at a public panel on faith and the climate at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, she was on the verge of voicing it aloud to a crowd of strangers.

“The panelists, faith leaders from the All Africa Conference of Churches, hadn’t named names. But Ms. Barron had gleaned the message. One of the biggest impediments to climate action in their communities was … her home community: evangelical Americans, who hold an outsize influence in missionary ministries in Africa.

“She had bitten her tongue through the Q&A session, nervous about being vulnerable in such a high-profile crowd. But just as the moderator moved to close the event, she felt her hand shoot up.

“ ‘I grew up in that community,’ she recalls admitting to the panel, heart racing. ‘What is needed from me in this moment?’ 

“For evangelical environmentalists, the temptation to leave the church behind and take their climate concerns elsewhere is high. This is especially true among younger generations, who [are] more likely to worry about climate change than their elders. Ms. Barron, for one, stood on the brink of abandoning her faith just a couple of years ago. 

“So the response she got from those panelists at COP26 last November has stuck with her. 

“ ‘If you have the opportunity to be rooted in your community, asking questions, pushing for change, and advocating for communities that don’t have an inroad to these spaces, then that’s probably the biggest thing you can do,’ she remembers being told. 

“The choice to stay and fight has not been easy, demanding resolve, patience, and the courage to speak up, again and again. But at a time when writing off those with differing views has become commonplace, Ms. Barron has found that her empathy and love for her community [have] helped her work with, instead of against, those on the ‘other’ side of the climate divide. 

“ ‘It takes a lot of courage to not just pick one side or the other, especially in such an extremely polarized society,’ says Melanie Gish, author of God’s Wounded World: American Evangelicals and the Challenge of Environmentalism. …

“In the United States, climate awareness and urgency have grown steadily in recent years. … Even among white Evangelicals, thought has been shifting. A poll conducted by Yale and other groups in 2020 found that 44% of them attributed global warming to human activity, up from 28% when the Pew Research Center asked a similar question in 2014.

“And the National Association of Evangelicals just renewed a call to action to mitigate the environmental crisis from a ‘biblical basis,’ updating a report from 2011. Yet climate skepticism remains disproportionately high among evangelical Christians, even compared with other religious groups. Some evangelical leaders have pitted environmental movements against religion, painting the former as a politically motivated threat to a faith-driven life. Many simply don’t see church as the place to address environmental concerns. …

“[At the University of Notre Dame, Ms. Barron read] one little book that hit her ‘like a ton of bricks.’ The text was Laudato Si, the 2015 encyclical on ‘care for our common home’ written by Pope Francis. She still remembers her visceral response to her first read.

“ ‘It felt like, “Oh my goodness, how did I miss this?” ‘ she says. Until then, her religion and her love for the natural world had existed in separate spheres. Now, she began to see the environmental crisis as a deeply spiritual crisis, built on a foundation of greed, extraction, and irreverence. And with that understanding came an accompanying spiritual obligation. 

“ ‘If we don’t care about it and don’t do something about it, we’re failing to fulfill two of our callings as people of faith: to care for creation and to love our neighbors,’ she says over Zoom from her family’s home in Illinois. 

“That’s the idea behind ‘creation care,’ an environmental movement grounded in biblical direction, such as the duty to ‘tend and keep’ the Garden of Eden. … The ideas have been more readily adopted outside the U.S., especially in places on the front lines of climate change. …

“Even though creation care, also known as environmental stewardship, has become more widely accepted in the U.S., being a young evangelical environmentalist can be lonely. …

“[Ms. Barron’s] mother texted her about a group called Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. YECA was founded with the support of the Evangelical Environmental Network in 2012. In addition to the group’s advocacy, the organization trains youth fellows on writing op-eds, talking to representatives, leading projects in their own communities, and engaging effectively with church members and leadership.

“Ms. Barron says she held back none of her trepidation in her application essay to be a fellow – and was welcomed into the fold. For the first time, she met a host of evangelical environmentalists grappling with similar questions, while working to shift the culture on climate within their own churches and college campuses. …

“ ‘It starts with conversations; it starts with one-on-ones … telling your church leaders and pastors what you’re passionate about,’ says Tori Goebel, national organizer and spokesperson for YECA. ‘It’s not necessarily about facts and statistics and different scientific figures, but rather it’s just sharing stories and connecting to shared values.’ ” 

More on Evangelical environmentalists at the Monitor, here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Musicians In Exile.
The Glasgow Barons.

When musicians bring their music to a new country, they influence and enrich the local music scene while healing themselves from the trauma of uprooted lives. Consider Musicians in Exile, a refugee orchestra in Scotland. Malcolm Jack wrote about it for Time Out.

“When Angaddeep Singh Vig arrived in Glasgow from India as an 18-year-old asylum seeker in January 2020, without any of his beloved musical instruments, he remembers feeling like ‘a guy without a soul.’ …

” ‘Music is part and parcel of my life,’ he says, and it has been ever since his father bought him a set of tabla hand drums aged just four. By his mid-teens Singh Vig had mastered not only that instrument but also the harmonium and flute, as well as singing. He had even begun teaching music. But when he and his parents were forced to flee India due to violent persecution by criminal gangs, they left with next to nothing, arriving in a strange and faraway land unable to work, study or begin rebuilding their lives.

“More than two years later, Singh Vig lives with his mother and father in temporary accommodation in Govan, as they continue their long and agonizing wait for leave to remain in the UK. But thanks to Musicians In Exile – Glasgow’s asylum seeker and refugee orchestra – he has got his soul back, and then some.

“Started in 2019, the project is the brainchild of Paul MacAlindin, a freelance conductor who has worked with orchestras and ensembles all over the world, from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to the Armenian Philharmonic and the Düsseldorf Symphoniker. From 2009 to 2014, MacAlindin was music director of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq – a maverick mission to help young musicians in the country pull themselves out of the horrors of war. ‘And it worked,’ he says, ‘until the invasion of Islamic State.’

“The orchestra collapsed, and so did MacAlindin, ‘mentally and physically,’ he says, ‘because after investing all the energy of keeping that thing alive and then having it stopped in such a dramatic fashion, I was just left completely floored.’ He moved back to his native Scotland to heal, choosing Govan purely as a cheap place to put a roof over his head. There, quite by luck, he suddenly found himself among the diverse and in many cases displaced communities of the former shipbuilding district on the south bank of the River Clyde – which is also the location of a branch of the Home Office, and thus is home to a lot of asylum seekers and refugees.

“MacAlindin founded The Glasgow Barons – an award-winning ‘regeneration orchestra’ set up to help revitalize Govan through performances in local venues by musicians of all backgrounds. Musicians in Exile grew out of that, as a way of helping to give musician asylum seekers and refugees in the area a chance to gather every Tuesday evening to sing, play and share their talents, experiences, stories and songs. …

“If members don’t have instruments, then MacAlindin – who receives funding from the People’s Postcode Trust, the Robertson Trust, and Creative Scotland Lottery – sources and buys them one, however rare it may be (he’s currently in the market for an Albanian two-string plucked instrument called a çifteli).

During lockdowns, when sessions had to be moved online, he also helped his members to buy digital devices and access to the internet so they could keep communicating and playing together.

“Through Musicians in Exile, as well as the generosity of others in his local community, Singh Vig now not only has a tabla again, but also a harmonium, a violin, a mandolin and an electric guitar (which he quickly learned to play, despite never having touched one before). ‘Now I’ve got many souls,’ he laughs. His father and mother, who are also musicians, come along to sessions too – Singh Vig credits it with helping to pull them both out of a deep malaise and, in his father’s case, even clinical depression.

“Singh Vig and Musicians In Exile have played several high-profile concerts. They included … a pre-recorded video performance for the opening of the new parliamentary session in October 2021. It was broadcast in the chamber to an audience of dignitaries including, among others, The Queen. Singh Vig was impossible to miss, sat at the centre of the ensemble in a bright red turban and denim jacket. ‘The Queen is watching me,’ he remembers thinking. ‘I cannae believe it.’ “

More at Time Out, here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: SGW3 Club.
Glasgow club recycles dancers’ body heat for energy.

Today’s dance article was written by my former boss’s daughter, Margaret Fuhrer, in December, after the environmental summit in Scotland. (Her father was a wonderful boss, by the way, and a good sport. His daughter’s dance-writing career has roots in her childhood Nutcracker performances in which he gamely played Mother Ginger.)

Fuhrer reports at the New York Times that a club in Glasgow is using the heat from dancers’ bodies as alternative energy to power the building.

“At SWG3 — an arts center in Glasgow, Scotland, that hosts some of the city’s largest dance parties — tickets for club nights sold briskly during the summer and fall of 2021, before the arrival of the Omicron variant. ‘The appetite for these events has been stronger than ever, and it’s fueled by the long period of time we were all denied it,’ said Andrew Fleming-Brown, SWG3’s managing director. ‘We’ve missed that shared body-heat experience, being packed together in a full venue.’

“What if dance-floor catharsis could be good not only for the soul but also for the planet? This month, SWG3 and the geothermal energy consultancy TownRock Energy will begin installing a new renewable heating and cooling system that harnesses the body heat of dancing clubbers. The plan should eventually reduce SWG3’s total carbon output by 60 to 70 percent. …

“There is poetry in the idea: the power of dance, made literal. ‘Conversations about sustainability can be pretty abstract,’ said David Townsend, the founder and chief executive of TownRock. ‘But if you can connect it to something people love to do — everyone loves a dance — that can be very meaningful.’

“A mutual friend introduced Townsend and Fleming-Brown in 2019, after Fleming-Brown expressed interest in exploring low-carbon energy systems for SWG3. Townsend, 31, is a regular on the club scene and had been to the location several times. …

” ‘Trying to do a geothermal well would have [cost millions],’ Townsend said. ‘Instead, we thought, why not collect the heat you’ve already got in your customers and then use the ground to store it?’ …

“Dr. Selina Shah, a specialist in dance and sports medicine, said club dance floors can be especially good at creating heat. ‘If it’s really high-energy music, that generally results in very fast and high-energy movement, so you’re looking at a significant level of heat generation — potentially even the equivalent of running,’ she said.

“To capture that energy at SWG3, TownRock developed an application for an already widespread technology: the heat pump. … The SWG3 system, called Bodyheat, will cool the space by transferring the heat of dancing clubbers not into the atmosphere, as in conventional cooling, but into 12 boreholes approximately 500 feet deep. The boreholes will turn a large cube of underground rock into a thermal battery, storing the energy so it can be used to supply heat and hot water to the building.

“Development of the system began in 2019. Pandemic shutdowns, and the financial uncertainty that came with them, paused the project for several months. But with their events calendar emptied, SWG3 leadership had time to develop a larger sustainability plan for the building, setting the goal of achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2025. ‘That moment allowed us to pause and really assess what’s important to us as an organization,’ Fleming-Brown said. ‘We decided to make it a priority.’

“Bodyheat became a central component of the plan when work on the project resumed in fall 2020. The first phase of installation should be complete by early spring [2022], and will provide heating and cooling to SWG3’s two main event spaces. Later phases will offer hot water to the bathrooms and heating to the foyer and art studios. At that point, SWG3 will be able to get rid of its three gas boilers, reducing its annual carbon output by up to 70 metric tons.

“The system is not cheap. … Glasgow’s hosting of the 2021 United Nations global climate summit created ‘a lot of momentum behind this kind of project,’ Fleming-Brown said. A grant from Scotland’s Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Program covered half of the costs for phase one, and a government-backed low interest loan helped with the rest.

Fleming-Brown estimates that savings on energy bills will make the investment recoverable in about five years. …

“Dancing has been used to generate energy before. More than a decade ago, the Dutch company Energy Floors introduced a line of tiles that convert dancers’ steps into electricity. Club Watt in Rotterdam installed the tiles to media fanfare in 2008, and they have since been used in hundreds of other projects. …

“Kinetic dance floors make only small quantities of electricity. Bodyheat should have a more meaningful impact on carbon output, though broadly speaking, dancing isn’t a very efficient way to make body heat. … Gyms, with their emphasis on aerobic exercise, seem like more obvious fits for projects that harness the work of the body. Townsend mentioned that in addition to capturing body heat, gyms could use equipment like stationary bikes to help generate electricity.

“Dancing may not be the best source of renewable energy, but it has proved important in another way: storytelling. There is something vaguely grim about harvesting heat from gym rats pumping away on treadmills. Energy born of dancing — born of joy — captures the imagination in a different way. …

“To help tell the Bodyheat story to the crowd at SWG3, Fleming-Brown and Townsend are considering ways to illustrate the amount of heat dancers create, perhaps with a large thermometer, or a heat map similar to those used on weather reports.”

More at the Times, here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA.
The giant head is grafted onto the hull of a boat and made up of a steel framework and cement. Forgotten after a Glasgow festival in the 1980s, it was sought out by sculptor Richard Groom’s family after his death.

Artworks may be forgotten when no one connected to the artist thinks they are worth keeping track of. It wasn’t until mourners at the funeral of UK sculptor Richard Groom told family members how well they remembered the giant floating head he once made that the family decided to find out what happened to it. Libby Brooks has the story at the Guardian.

“Bobbing in the water in the Canting Basin, by the shiny crescent of the Glasgow Science Centre, the Floating Head remains impassive as a seagull lands on its broad forehead. The seven-metre-long, 26-tonne buoyant sculpture could be a refugee from Easter Island, brought to the Clyde by the tide, only to have a bird peck at the moss covering its cheek and chin like a lopsided beard.

“In fact, it was commissioned from the artist Richard Groom as the centrepiece of Glasgow’s 1988 Garden festival, but then lost for decades – forgotten and unclaimed in a boatyard until a dogged relocation and restoration project brought it back to the spot where it started, three decades later.

“It was a conversation at the artist’s funeral in 2019 that inspired his family to seek out the sculpture.

“His brother Andy Groom said: ‘Myself and my family were so touched at Richard’s funeral where so many of his friends and colleagues commented on all of his work, especially the Floating Head. It became apparent very quickly we had to find it, fix it, float it.’

“Working with the Sculpture Placement Group (SPG), an organisation that aims to bring sculpture to different audiences, the family discovered the head had been stored at the Clyde Boat Yard for more than a decade after being rescued from another dock site where it was about to be bulldozed.

‘We had no idea whatsoever where it was,’ said Groom. ‘It was listed as abandoned on the banks of the Clyde, so I started phoning round scrap and storage yards asking: do you happen to know where a 30ft concrete head might be?’

“The head, which is grafted on to the hull of a boat and made up of a steel framework with a concrete render, was then partially restored – some graffiti was removed, but the natural weathering, and the encroaching moss, remains.

“Kate Robertson, the co-director of the SPG, said: ‘People still remember the Garden festival as a big highlight, they were aware of the focus on Glasgow and the visitors, and it also marked a turning point for the city from post-industrial to a cultural destination.’ … The Garden festival site began the redevelopment of the once booming dry docks that had become a symbol of an industry in permanent decline.

“With an official launch later this month, the head will feature at Glasgow Doors Open Days festival, forming part of a sculpture trail through Govan, while Groom’s family and the SPG seek a permanent mooring. …

“ ‘The scale of it is quite intimidating,’ Robertson said. ‘The best way to see the possibilities there are for the sculpture is to bring it out into public view again.’ ” More at the Guardian, here.

Although I don’t know what ideas the artist himself intended to emphasize with the floating head at the festival, it certainly brings home to me that Glasgow is a city on the water. Fort Point Channel features floating art, too (for example, here). It reminds viewers not only that much of Boston was salvaged from the ocean, but that rising seas want it back.

Read Full Post »

5760-2Photo: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian
A music and performance space in Springburn Park, Glasgow, Scotland, was created inside a steel hut by repurposing old pianos.

We had a parlor grand for many years, and I took lessons on it. It had belonged to my mother-in-law, who was much more musical than I. After I stopped playing, the piano sat forlorn a long time, drawing the attention only of toddler grandchildren. My husband decided maybe we could use the space. The piano did need work, and no one was buying a fixer-upper at the time, so he gave it away to a guy who would remove it.

What do you think that guy wanted a piano for? He planned to rent it to companies staging high-end houses before they went on the market. Ugh. What a sorry end for that piano! I like the idea in today’s article much better for an instrument that had once been loved.

Libby Brooks writes at the Guardian, “Inside a cavernous steel hut in the middle of Glasgow’s Springburn Park, the sweeping arc of keyboards, lids and carved panels has been taking shape, creating the UK’s first permanent auditorium made entirely of recycled pianos.

“Using mainly upright instruments, with a baby grand artfully sliced in half to make a corner balcony, about 40 pianos have been expertly disarticulated to create the tiered seating.

“ ‘When you dismantle a piano you end up with a kit of different parts, from the ornate front pieces to the strong planks normally hidden beneath the key,’ explains Tom Binns, who founded the Glasgow Piano City project in 2013, finding new uses for unwanted instruments in public places from hospitals to bookshops.

“It was Binns who brought together a Glasgow community activist with big plans and the Edinburgh-based instrumental innovators Pianodrome in what he says is a testament to the collaborative potential of social enterprise.

“Two years ago, Alex Docherty, a hip-hop artist and chair of Friends of Springburn Park, countered plans to demolish the site where the massive hut stands with a proposal for a community village with an event space, cafe and outdoor classroom.

“ ‘When I talk to my gran who grew up in Springburn, it used to have cinemas and places to go,’ Docherty says. ‘But since the decline in industry and the motorway demolitions [creating the unpopular dual carriageways and flyovers that bisect Springburn] they disappeared. We really need a community space in the area.’

“The area has its problems, including widespread unemployment and a high rate of drug deaths, but ‘there’s been an energy of change in Springburn over the last few years,’ Docherty says. …

“The plan to use old pianos for the seating came through Binns. He visited the team at Pianodrome, whose mobile amphitheatre has impressed audiences at previous Edinburgh festivals as a creative response to consumer culture, to see their initial constructions. ‘I thought: “This could work,” ‘ he says.

‘We were hired to design a permanent theatre space,’ says Matt Wright, a co-founder of Pianodrome. ‘It breaks down the division between audience and performer. You’re sitting on an instrument while you watch and listen to someone play.’ …

“Wright says the arrangement of benches rather than having separate seats is more appropriate to social distancing: ‘You can space people out but it doesn’t look so stark as having empty seats.’

“For Binns, the project has grown out of a respect for people’s deep connection to their individual instruments and the hopes they have when they pass them on. ‘People have an extraordinary emotional attachment to their instruments and would be heartbroken to see them go in a [dumpster]. We’re giving pianos a new life.’ ”

More here.

Read Full Post »


Photo: Katherine Anne Rose
On the south side of Glasgow every year the residents of Strathbungo decorate their windows with weird and wonderful displays for other locals to enjoy.

Here’s a grand idea to light up winter in a city. It reminds me a little of the mega jack o’lantern displays that Providence’s Roger Williams Park puts on at Halloween. Any city could do this.

Peter Ross writes at the Guardian, “Window Wanderland is a festival of lights that sees people transform their neighbourhood into a colourful playground using paper cutouts in their windows. In the streets of Strathbungo, Glasgow, the result is a night-time explosion of pop culture: Mary Poppins, the Moomins, Peter Pan, Paddington.

“The festival was founded in Bristol in 2015 by Lucy Reeves Khan, a set designer who had developed mobility problems, chronic pain and feelings of isolation following a car accident. As part of her rehabilitation, she took short walks in the streets around her home – at night, so few would see her struggling. Lonely, she glanced in lit windows at the people inside, and one evening the idea struck.

“Khan set about trying to articulate her concept to her neighbours. That wasn’t easy. ‘Nobody could understand what I was on about,’ she recalls. It wasn’t quite like Halloween, it wasn’t quite like Christmas. So she created a number of displays in her own windows as examples – and it took off from there, and has now spread to around 20 UK locations. …

“One home in Strathbungo is an angry lament for the Glasgow School of Art, which burned down recently for the second time; the windows of the home are bright with painted flame. On nearby Queen Square, Bernie Hunter, who is 24 and has cerebral palsy, has created a fond tribute to Still Game, the beloved Scottish sitcom, on the eve of its farewell series. …

“The politics of the event tend instead towards the environmental. On Regent Park Square, Emily Munro has decorated an upstairs window with the hourglass logo of Extinction Rebellion, the direct action campaigners. Her other windows show cutouts of insects, which Munro removes as the night wears on, symbolising their catastrophic decline, leaving just one – a bee.

“One home has been tricked out like a giant jukebox, with a real seven-piece band playing on the upper floor through an open window. …

“ ‘It’s beautiful, unplanned, chaotic,’ says Sarah Reid, who started this Scottish leg of the event. ‘Such a simple idea, but when people come together it creates something beautiful and powerful.’ ”

More here.

Read Full Post »


When I was last in Manhattan, I took a photo of a putative Banksy stencil. It’s one that the gourmet food emporium Zabar’s helped to preserve in 2013, when the British street artist was said to be tagging all five New York City boroughs.

I have written often about Banksy — here, for instance. I get a real kick out of his ideas and the fact that he works by stealth. (Speaking of that, if you search on the word “stealth” at the blog, you will find all kinds of examples.)

Banksy’s art, like other street art, is not necessarily meant to last for the ages, but he has become such a phenomenon that there are now efforts to restore murals that have been painted over.

The BBC reports from Scotland, “Restoration work is under way on three early works by the artist Banksy which were accidentally painted over with grey emulsion in a Glasgow nightclub.

“The murals, which feature a gun-toting monkey in a tutu and a framed Mona Lisa, were created as part of an exhibition at The Arches in 2001. But they were mistakenly covered in 2007 then left after the club went into administration [bankruptcy] in 2015.

“A team of restorers are expected to take five months to uncover the works. … Banksy created the works, which also feature the words ‘Every time I hear the word culture I release the safety on my 9mm’ when he was beginning his career as a graffiti artist.

“They were shown as part of the ‘Peace is Tough‘ exhibition in March 2001, … but six years later, and long after Banksy had established himself as an international artist, the murals were covered with grey emulsion during refurbishment work at the nightclub.

“When the club went into administration in 2015, the then owners had considered restoring the murals and selling them to clear the club’s debts.

“Chris Bull, technical director at Fine Arts Restoration Co (Farco), which is carrying out the restoration, said the murals were the only known works by Banksy in Scotland with any provenance. …

“The new owners of the venue, Argyle Street Arches, say they now want to save the works for the nation. … Once complete the works will be put on permanent display.”

More at the BBC, here.

Read Full Post »


Photo: SWG3/Facebook
ardworks takes place May 6 and 7
, 2017, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Melita knows I like artistic graffiti. In fact, we are both such fans of Lata_65 (graffiti for old folks) that we intend to try our hand at spray painting if the organization ever comes to the Boston area.

Today Melita shared a link on Facebook about graffiti in Glasgow.

Gregor Kyle wrote at GlasgowLive, “Scotland’s first dedicated graffiti festival will take street art into the heart of the community in Glasgow and open up new opportunities for young people across the city.

“Next weekend (May 6 and 7) in Finnieston, SWG3 will host over 30 of the world’s finest graffiti artists and 50 of Scotland’s street artists at the Yardworks Festival. …

“One of its main aims is to strengthen SWG3’s bond with the local community and the city of Glasgow as a whole.

“School and youth groups have been invited, with the days featuring specialist graffiti workshops and a ‘Creation Station’ for children which will allow everyone the chance to try their hand at painting. …

“ ‘It’s Scotland’s first graffiti festival and the scale of it now, the way it has grown, it’s massive now,’ explained Gaz, who is himself a graffiti artist and part of the management team at SWG3. …

“Most Glaswegians will know SWG3 as a club and concert space but by day it is a thriving hub for artists, filled with studio spaces and workshops. Slowly but steadily it has progressed over the years with the scale and ambitions of its projects growing bigger and bigger.

” ‘The yard is now basically a massive canvas for the artists,’ continued Gaz. ‘We have rendered the walls, wrapped containers in sheet metal – at no small expense – and every surface will be perfect for the artists to paint on. …

” ‘We are trying to build a sense of community in the area, which can be hard sometimes when you have a transient population with some of the students maybe only staying in the flats here for a term and then moving on.

“ ‘Finnieston has this reputation as this hipster area; what people forget is that there is this core population here and in the likes of Partick and Anderston who have lived here a long time. …

“ ‘The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were fantastic for the city. They drew people together and, through a number of projects, connected me with a lot of other artists and graffiti writers that I didn’t know in the city.

“ ‘We will be looking to run workshops in the summer for young people and will try to play our part in improving the area and bringing the community together.’ ”

More at GlasgowLive, here.

Read Full Post »

Early last month, an unusual tribute took place at Waterloo Station, London. How I would have liked to be there and see return to life the soldiers who died in the devastating Battle of the Somme in World War I!

Charlotte Higgins at the Guardian describes what the event was like.

There “were about 20 young men, immediately conspicuous because they were dressed in the dull-green uniforms of the first world war. They were just there: not speaking, not even moving very much. Waiting, expressionless, for who knows what.

“A small crowd gathered, taking photographs. A woman caught the eye of one of the men. She tried to speak to him. Without speaking or dropping his gaze, he pulled a small card out of his pocket and handed it to her.


‘Lance Corporal John Arthur Green,’ it read. ‘1st/9th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles). Died at the Somme on 1 July 1916. Aged 24 years.’

“There were similar scenes across the UK. … They gathered on the steps of the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. They smoked roll-ups outside Bristol Temple Meads and marched, metal-tipped boots ringing, through Manchester Piccadilly. They stood in clumps by the entrance to Queen’s University, Belfast, and sat on the market cross in Lerwick, Shetland. …

“The event, which unfolded without advance publicity, can now be revealed as a work by Jeremy Deller, the Turner prize-winning artist …

“The participants were a volunteer army of non-professional performers, including social workers, farmers, security guards, farmers, shop assistants, students, labourers, flight attendants and schoolboys. All were sworn to secrecy, and rehearsals took place across the country over the past months. Deller worked with Rufus Norris, the artistic director of the National Theatre in London, and theatres throughout the UK to train the volunteer army.” More.

Photo: Alicia Canter for the Guardian
Soldiers at Waterloo station, London. Each represents a real person who died in the Battle of the Somme.

Read Full Post »

The last tidbit from my recent New York City trip is about the Kelpies on loan in Bryant Park, near the New York Public Library.

Kelpies are water spirits of Scottish folklore, typically taking the form of a horse. Artist Andy Scott was inspired by the legends to create giant ones for Helix Park in Falkirk, Scotland.

The ones in New York are smaller maquettes but still pretty huge.

The artist writes that he came up with an idea eight years ago about “mystical water-borne equine creatures. …

“Since then it has evolved dramatically and in the process the ethos and function has shifted from the original concept. Falkirk was my father’s home town and that inherited link to the town has been one of my driving inspirations. A sense of deep personal legacy has informed my thinking from the outset …

“The mythological associations behind the original brief have been absorbed by other sources of inspiration in the creative processes, and the ancient ethereal water spirits have been forged into engineered monuments. The Kelpies are modeled on heavy horses (two Clydesdales of Glasgow City Council actually served as models in the process), and it is this theme of working horses which captured my imagination and drove the project.”

The website adds that the Kelpies in New York City “were installed by Andy and his colleague Simon Chambers, with the assistance of the American Scottish Foundation, the Bryant Park Corporation, Mariano Brothers freight & cranes, Synlawn matting and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Thanks to Creative Scotland for their funding assistance towards the costs of the transport and install.”

You really have to check out Scott’s website. The full-size sculptures are unbelievable. Click here.


Read Full Post »

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival of short theater pieces always sounds like as much fun as the Newport Folk Festival of the 1960s. Maybe more fun.

An intriguing example is described in the August 16, 2011, issue of the Guardian.

“Some shows at the Edinburgh festival are daylight robbery. Some are cheap at the price, and some cost nothing. There is only one show at this year’s festival, however, that invites members of the audience to come on stage and shred their banknotes. And the surprise of it is, people do it.

“Gary McNair, a Glasgow-based theatre-maker, is the artist behind the one-man show Crunch, which runs until 27 August at Forest Fringe. Conceived in the wake of the financial crisis, while McNair was an associate artist of the National Theatre of Scotland, the show seeks to critique money as a belief system. In it, McNair promises a ‘five-step programme’ to ‘release you from the terrors of the financial system.’ …

“The climax of the show was … the moment when he suggested members of the audience feed their hard-earned cash through an office shredder, ‘as a vaccine against the disasters of the future, so that money and greed will lose their grip on you.’ Five did, with £10 notes as well as £5 notes returned to their owners as useless slithers of paper.” Read more here.

At YouTube, McNair Explains his art.

Meanwhile, Cookie Monster contends that “God’s Away on Business.”

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: