So much for ‘Scotland with Style’ — Glasgow is at its most interesting when you find your way into its GRASS-ROOTS CULTURE. In the second of our articles on the state of the city today, Leon McDermott looks at life beyond the mainstream.
6 THE LIST it 18 Aug yooit
lasgow is a city that has been photographed into an almost bland anonymity. its landtnarks drained of any significance beyond the fact that they‘re now handy markers l‘or an identity we take for granted that ol'(ilasgow as a galltts city (there's eyen. in an act of bra/en. idiocy. a bar in the West lind called exactly that). down to earth in comparison with lidinburgh. and much more fun.
The dear green place. though. has always been tnore than its reductiye pttblic itnage implies. Take a wander through its l‘orgotten back streets. oyer the sprawling w'astegrounds. through the city centres tucked—away alleyways and eyen behind the West lind‘s imposing sandstone terraces. and (ilasgow reyeals its other lace. There‘s plenty happening aboye ground. and the city’s art and mttsic scenes haye. in the past decade. reached the kind ol l'ruition l'ew' would haye imagined a scant 20 or 30 years ago. (ilasgow is rightly regarded as a major cultttral player in liurope. But presumably all this didn‘t come about by accident: there has to be an underground for the mainstream to appropriate. an ay'ant garde to generate new ways of thinking. which can he l’olded into current modes ol thought. Culture. in all its many l’orms. is always about borrowing ideas l‘rom the margins and edging them towards the centre. bttt it's a gradual process. and the current situation is the culmination ol‘ actiyity dating back years.
The marginal places where art and music collide are not. thanks to their yery nature. oy‘ertly keen on adyertising their extra-legal presence. preferring to operate by word of mouth and last-minute photocopied llyers. rather than glaring neon signs proclaiming their presence to all and sundry. Alter all. what‘s the ttse ol' setting up a space l'or creatiy‘e exploration it. you know that it's going to be descended on by gangs of teenage kids ()I' the autltorities'.’
Take a walk through (ilasgow'. l'rom east to west. and there are a number ol‘ places which are. or haye Very recently been. hiyes ol' cultural actiyity. Out in the city’s liast lind. the imposing l'igure ol Bridgeton .lail. a crumbly Victorian wonder. was Used by both l5ran/ lierdinand and ()ptimo‘s sporadic spin-ol‘l‘ project the Black Rabbit \Vhot'ehouse. whose party there last year required both a password to get in. and the ability
to temporarily disregard the l‘act that toilet l'acilities in such places aren‘t always the most lay'ish. It's also. in the past. been used as an exhibition space. a gallery where artists don't haye to play by the rules being established on the increasingly commercial end ol‘ the city‘s contemporary scene. which. as it grows. by necessity becomes more planned and tnore cotlilietl.
(‘loset' to town. across the scztt‘t‘ed post— industrial landscapes which lie to the east ol‘ (ilasgow ('ross. are more established \entttres. King Street has long been a stalwart ol' the city ~s art scene thanks to the artist—run 'l‘ransmission