Official blogspace of Postindustrial Scotland: Professional Writing Abroad.
Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia
22 July 2011
Glasgow: A Centre for Growth
My very first experience of Scotland was in Glasgow, at the time all I noticed was that it seemed very post-industrial with all of the “suits” and still had that grime and dirt left over from when smoke stacks used to blot out the sun. On my second trip to Glasgow, I experienced the Clockwork Orange for the first time, my first subway/metro experience ever. I couldn’t help but think of Glasgow’s nickname, Stab City, while we rode it. It helped define that part of the city that most people don’t want to think about, the middle and lower classes. Unlike when we ride trains, people were not sociable or cheery. If someone looked at someone else funny it was awkward. I don’t really want to experience it ever again. After exiting the Clockwork Orange, we visited the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It was here that I discovered the MacDonald sisters, Margaret and Frances with their art which depicts ghostly women and earthy paintings.
They also had some furnishings designed by Charles Mackintosh on display, which caught my interest and brings me to our recent visit with the class to the Glasgow School of Art. I was in absolute ecstasy while we were there. What I loved most was being able to see a piece of art, the building itself, still being used and useful. Mackintosh built a space that was so efficient the tour guide said it was still their most useful building of all of the campus buildings. The tour guide also explained that his art and designs were influenced by the life he lived as an art student and it was obvious in what we saw at the school. His designs were environmental but industrial at the same time, straight smooth lines mixed with romantic flowers and insects. It was almost like he was joining masculinity and femininity into one piece. He brought two elements together that were typically segregated at the time and created something beautiful out of it. I also think his designs are so popular today because we love seeing that old industrial looking stuff but seeing it with a new purpose. Like an old warehouse turned into a high end flat or museum, an old engine design turned into the most fuel efficient machine of its time. Mackintosh is a city defining component through the many marks he left on the city itself. His work is most treasured and loved, creates a sense of pride and was postindustrial before its time.
The new Riverside Museum was a differently conceived idea of what a museum usually represents through its structure. It acts as a place defining structure in its overall design as a building. The outside design, which resembles the Clyde River in its simplicity and use of lines and curves to create a large scale building set on a site, the river, has been fundamental to redefining a city like Glasgow. Looking at the skyline of this side of Glasgow, you could see a lot of similarly styled buildings, very postindustrial structures that were vastly different from the older buildings of the city center. I think this new part of Glasgow will continue to grow and redefine the city; it already has a very business oriented feel, almost more advanced than any other city we’ve visited.