Annie Bananie en Europe

A blog about travel, life, and everyday tidbits

Category Archives: UK – Glasgow

Public sculptures in Glasgow

Having written a post about bizarre sculptures in Oslo, I thought I’d follow it up with one about the public sculptures in Glagsow. This one had been planned for a while, as I had been taking photos of public sculptures that I encountered when I was living in Glasgow. You may have read some of the rather old posts about the murals in Glasgow, but this will perhaps be the only one about public sculptures, as I don’t live in Glasgow anymore 😦 Still missing Glasgow and Scotland till this day, three years after I’d left!

Located in front of the Gallery of Modern Art in the city centre, the Duke of Wellington (sculptor: Carlo Marochetti) is arguably the most famous sculpture in Glasgow and is the subject of an ongoing joke, where a traffic cone is placed on the head of the duke. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the duke WITHOUT his cone hat. Not exactly sure where the humour originated but hey, I think the orange cone looks quite good on him, wouldn’t you agree? πŸ˜‰ Lookin’ sharp, even in the rain!

The story of the two following sculptures can be found here. First, Lobey Dosser (sculptors: Tony Morrow and Nick Gillon): “Believed to be the world’s only two-legged equestrian statue, it shows Sheriff Lobey Dosser and his arch-nemesis Rank Bajin riding Lobey’s faithful steed, El Fideldo, or Elfie as she is known.” These are characters in the works of Bud Neill, a Scottish cartonnist popular in the mid-20th century. The sculpture was on Woodlands Road when I took this photo but some time later, when I passed by the same spot, it had been removed. Maybe the sheriff was off to some new adventure elsewhere in the city…

Another one of Bud Neill’s characters, G.I. Bride (sculptor: Ranald MacColl), stands at Partick train station in the West End. This lady carrying a baby was a war bride who married an American GI and went to the USA, and she’s seen here trying to hitch a ride back home to Partick. I found the story quite touching, and I’m glad they made it back home!

Mary and Magdeleine – The sculpture of Mary and Martha in The Sisters of Bethany (sculptor: Joh Warrington Wood) is one of the fine works of art found in the greenhouses at the Botanic Gardens in the West End. What struck me in particular were the fine details on the sisters’ dresses and in their hair.

The sculpture of Wincher’s Stance (sculptor: John Clinch) at Buchanan bus station was probably my favourite one out of all of the ones posted here. It seems to tell the story of a passionate reunion between two lovers after some time apart. It is more than fitting that such a representation should be found at a train or bus station, a place of many departures and arrivals, separations and reunions.

This is the sculpture out of all of the ones on the list that I knew the least about, and only with some extensive digging on the Internet did I find its name – The Govan Milestone (sculptor: Helen Denerley). I saw it one day as I was wandering around Govan. More information about this sculpture can be found here and here.

The three famous Scottish men portrayed here (confirmed on this web site) are, from left to right, scientist James Watt, trade unionist Jimmy Reid, and mountaineer Tom Weir (there’s a sculpture of him in Balmaha, near the starting point of the Conic Hill walk).

Rise by Andy Scott, creator of the Kelpies. Somehow the angle from which I took this photo made it look like the “wings” of the lady were slanted, whereas if you looked at her from a direct frontal view, they were more or less horizontal. It got me confused for a while and I even wondered if this was actually Rise

Located in the city centre, Citizen Firefighter (sculptor: Kenny Hunter) commemorates the brave firefighters who have served and fought for the city of Glasgow.

Side view of Diagram of an Object (sculptor: Dhruva Mistry) in front of the Hunterian Art Gallery, next to the University of Glasgow library. What is it exactly? Well that’s up to anyone to interpret, I suppose, and that’s why the “object” isn’t named. At first glance it looked like some sort of chair, but it gradually turned into an abstract image of a parent embracing a child. Do you see what I see?

When I saw the Clyde Clock (sculptor: George Wyllie) outside the Buchanan bus station I thought…somebody must be running out of time! Perhaps that’s why it was there, to remind people running late to hurry up so they don’t miss their bus!

A little something different for this final one – not a sculpture in the traditional sense but one that must have been created purely out of spontaneity. It snowed heavily in Glasgow only once during the 2016 winter season (in January), and someone brought to life this little guy, whom I encountered on my way home. It was a pity that his lifespan was perhaps only one night, but I was glad to have met him before he disappeared πŸ™‚

Wait, what do you mean I’ve left Glasgow…

I left Glasgow almost two months ago after having lived and worked there for three years. As I embark on my travels in China, which are happening right now, as I reunite with friends that I’ve met in Glasgow I often marvel at how time has passed us by. For me, it hasn’t even been that long since I left, but the memory of my time in Glasgow somehow feels so distant, both in space and time. Those years have faded so rapidly into a blurry, mushy mess of history. It’s almost as if I’ve never worked at MiMe, never served at GCCC, never built those precious relationships, never written the first post about Glasgow, never loved this beautiful Scottish city…

First sunrise in Glasgow, October 29, 2014 @ 6:56am.

And it’s very strange. Had I fallen into deep sleep and dreamt a dream that felt too real for three years? Is there something hidden in those memories that I want to deny, and is this a way of throwing it behind me indefinitely? If I ever go back, will I regain what was lost and still call Glasgow my love, or will I be a stranger, a passerby?

Last sunrise in Glasgow, the day I left, October 30, 2017 @ 6:26am.

The falling leaves drift by my window

Autumn came and went like the wind this year in Glasgow and we seem to be already in the midst of winter in mid-November. If I thought that last year’s autumn colours were gorgeous, then I must say that they pale in comparison to this year’s. Maybe it’s because the weather had been unusually mild this year and we surprisingly haven’t gotten so much rain. Maybe it’s because I finally discovered how majestic that tree looks outside my office window. Maybe…Lady Autumn decided to grace us with her presence more sophisticatedly than she did in previous years. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Kelvingrove Park is a 10-minute walk from my walk and my office but I tend to overlook its proximity and hence don’t go there often. During the summer, it is a great place to have a picnic or a barbecue, and when autumn comes and the colours change, an afternoon stroll on a rainless day is quite relaxing. I’m glad I took a walk when autumn was at its best – two weeks later the branches would have all turned bald!

Of course, my workplace, the University of Glasgow, is itself the perfect place to observe the changes in season. Every corner is full of magic and I sometimes really do think I work at Hogwarts. The Main Building, especially its tower, at the centre of the campus likes to take the spotlight and appears in many photos of the university that I’ve taken. Already an impressive structure that I have the luxury of passing by every day, it looks even more exquisite in the midst of the orange, red, and yellow leaves. Now, only about a week after I’ve taken photos, autumn is no more, and we are left preparing for the onset of the delayed rainy season…

(By the way, the title of this post is the opening line of the beautifully classic song, “Autumn Leaves”. A few months ago I stumbled upon an instrumental “cover” of this song and fell in love with it – here it is to share with everyone!)

Street art in Glasgow, part 2

It’s been more than 6 months since the initial “Street art in Glasgow” post, and last weekend, I finally got some free time to track down some more murals and street art in this city, following the official “mural trail”. They really are everywhere, and so impressive too! I didn’t manage to find everything that was on the trail, but I did stumble upon a few surprises that weren’t part of the official trail. Let’s take a look.

Let’s start with my favourite one of them all, which I think was completed very recently. This gigantic mural is the work of artist Sam Bates, otherwise known as “Smug”, whose hands were the creators of several other works, including the girl with the magnifying glass in the previous post. I wasn’t aware of the existence of this mural as I was walking in the opposite direction on High Street. I saw someone take a photo of something behind me, and as I turned around, I was awed. Such beautiful piece of artwork with so much detail and colour, but the Man and the Bird (which is what I decided to call it as I don’t know if it has an official name) also elicited emotional resonance in addition to the visual pleasure. Oh, and this isn’t currently on the mural trail, so it was definitely the best surprising find of the day!

This is Glasgow’s Tiger, an installation that can be found along the quay of the Clyde River in downtown Glasgow. Previously, it had been a fiery tiger drawn in a different style (which I haven’t seen), but it had been replaced with the image of a realistic beast watching the river. While the tiger looked solemn and majestic, some people seemed to enjoyed using it as a backdrop as they danced to some music in its presence!

In an unassuming parking lot on Ingram Street in the heart of Merchant City, another piece of artwork by Smug revealed itself, named Fellow Glasgow Residents. Apparently this mural is supposed to represent the different types of animals found in Glasgow’s green space, appearing through what looks like holes in the wall. The three images form one long stretch from left to right and is so impressive that it makes one wonder if this is really a parking lot or a magnificent outdoor gallery… πŸ˜›

This lively mural on Argyle Street seems to show an unconventional type of bar – one entirely managed by animals! We’ve got an elephant, a shark, a walrus, a bear, a rhinoceros as the bartender, and a zebra and a moose having a relaxing drink. What a place! I wonder if the Scottish would like to frequent such a place – perhaps the zoo staff went on strike and the animals escaped?

Clutha, a piece installed at the Clutha Bar, is a work by Rogue-One, another artist who has contributed many pieces of stunning work to the city, with the Flying Taxi and the Cat with the Caged Birds featured previously.

I often pass by the Hip Hop Marionettes, another piece by Rogue-One, when I cross John Street. Taken from the description in the official mural trail brochure: “We thought that an interesting concept would be to have body-poppers or break-dancers in puppet form. I took my influence from a Beastie Boys cover and a Run DMC picture.”

The walls of some of the buildings in the University of Strathclyde also have some very colourful paintings that make you wonder if they are the entrances to art studios instead of offices and classrooms. The painting of a girl about to open a door located at the corner of Grahma Hills Building had me confused for several weeks, as THE DOOR was so realistic that I thought it was A REAL DOOR. I thought it was smart to paint a girl opening a real door, but when one day I finally realised that the door was a painting…it was a moment of utmost epiphany. Is this what art does to you?!

Continuing on with the Strathclyde series, just above the girl opening the door is this long, giant mural of what seems to depict classroom life at Strathclyde. It kind of reminds me of the days in undergrad, with rows and rows of desks and benches and many sleepy students that didn’t sleep till 3am the previous night…though the ones on the wall seemed (mostly) wide awake!

Further along George Street, we have a technology-themed and an ocean-themed mural here amidst some of the science buildings of Strathclyde. Seems like Strathclyde (and the city centre as a whole) has a lot of these full-length building murals, and I am genuinely impressed…once again!

As I have mentioned at the very beginning, I haven’t completed the mural trail and some of the murals on the trail actually eluded me even though I supposedly passed by the spots where they were supposed to be. So, knowing me, I will set out again to find those that are still scattered around the city, and a part 3 will be posted!

The four seasons of Glasgow

When people ask me what time of the year is Glasgow’s rainy season, I tell them that every season is a rainy season in Glasgow. At least that’s what it felt like during my one year as a resident of Glasgow.

Nevertheless, the city is still beautiful in every season, even though it sometimes seems as if summer doesn’t exist. Aside from the rain, which is a constant in every season, we do manage to see different colours at various times of the year – a green spring, a blue summer, a red autumn, and a white winter. If you mix everything, the overall impression might still be “gray”, and any rainless day is a cause for celebration πŸ˜‰

Spring

Spring is the time of the year when life begins to revive after having been asleep for a few months. Blooming flowers are to be seen everywhere, painting Glasgow in vibrant colours and the hope of warmth. Ditch not your umbrellas and rain jackets, however! Rain is aplenty and will wash the city at any given moment, but a forecast of sun for five days in a row (!) reminds me that the toughest months of November to February are over. Weekends can now be spent outdoors, hah!!

Summer

Ah, summer. It is rarely warmer than 25 degrees Celsius in Glasgow, and I’ve heard that the Scots consider it a heat wave if the temperature rises above 24 – is that true, my Scottish friends? Daylight is abundant, and the first rays of sunshine through the window often wake me up at 4am while the sun does not set until 11pm. How awesome is that! Then again, it is easier to lose track of time during the summer – you think it’s only 7pm but all of a sudden it’s midnight. Wasn’t it still bright half an hour ago?!

Autumn

While autumn is my favourite season in Toronto, I’m not sure if I feel the same way in Glasgow. The temperature begins to drop, and the transition into winter is especially difficult to adapt to as gray skies and drizzling rain dominate the atmosphere. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. The sun becomes especially scarce and precious during this period of time, and we really do learn to appreciate every moment of sunlight. We do have some gorgeous red leaves, though, which is a source of consolation and at least adds some colour to my walk to work.

Winter

As a Canadian, I’m raised to believe that winter is incomplete without snow. Luckily (for me, perhaps unluckily for others) that there had been snow during the two Glaswegian winters that I’ve experienced, and I definitely prefer snow over rain! When I heard from my friends and family that the temperature went down to -15 degrees Celsius in January, I was quite glad to have avoided the bone-chilling shivers and thankful to be here with this gentle snow. This year, it really “snowed” only on one day, but that was enough to get me quite excited! Although the snow only lasted one day and pretty much melted away by the next afternoon, I was satisfied to say that it was a REAL winter, hehe.

And now, it is the beginning of February. Yesterday was Groundhog Day but I think the groundhog in Glasgow would have been pretty pissed off when he emerged from his burrow to see another rainy day. I’m not sure if spring is coming soon, but I’m happy to see that the sky is gradually getting brighter when I step out of the office at 5:30pm. And today was an entirely sunny day! What a gift! πŸ˜€

The question is not “Do you see my shadow?” but “Where’s my umbrella?” 😦 😦 😦

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