WHAT THEY SAY:
If you were without The List, you might find yourself relying on the following travel advice to guide you ‘Welcome to New York. This may seem the most outrageous piece of public relations flummery ever perpetrated, but stop and look at the very centre of Glasgow and its grid system does have more than a touch of the Big Apple, albeit on a modest scale.’ Time Out: Scotland, 2010 edition. Keith Davidson.
‘Rejuvenated upbeat Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, has not traditionally enjoyed the best of reputations. Set on the banks of the mighty river clyde, this former industrial giant can still initially seem a grey and depressing place, with the M8 motorway screeching through the centre and dilapidated housing estates on its outskirts. However the effects of Glasgow’s remarkable overhaul, set in motion in the 1980s by the “Glasgow’s Miles Better” campaign and crowned by the awarding of the title of European City of Culture in 1990, are still much in evidence.‘ Rough Guide to Scotland, 2008 edition. Rob Humphreys and Donald Reid.
‘The speed of the conversation tends to be quite quick in Glasgow. If necessary, ask people to repeat (even slowly!) what they are saying, Glaswegians are generally very friendly and able to communicate in far more formal English than that which is commonly used if it is required.’ Wikitravel
‘Given the local reputation for friendliness and good humour, some would say that Glasgow has the biggest heart of any Scottish city. Its industrial and working class heritage does father a certain demeanour, however: bold, brash and allergic to fuss. A big yes to curry; generally no to nitro-poached green tea and lime mousse (although the citizenry does spend a fair amount on designer clothes).’ Time Out: Scotland 12 THE LIST 18 Nov–2 Dec 2010
Victor Albrow at Street Level
thousand tales. As do the portrait photographs by Victor Albrow at Street Level gallery. They are constructed with the precision of a surgeon – forgive the ongoing theme here – and though there is zero spontaneity, ambiguity makes up for it. The women look like men (except the pregnant woman who looks like she has second thoughts), the men look like killers, and everybody looks ghoulish in their retro settings with scary 60s wallpaper prints and depressing kitchens. They all stare at us from their frozen lives, inscrutable and distant as a Rembrandt painting. Brrr.
Speaking of ghoulishness, I step underground into the Transmission Gallery next door, where an installation exhibition is running in a dungeon-like space. Title: A Killer Whale Breaching in Soft Focus. Long titles, especially containing words like killer and whale, set up an expectation in the viewer. So imagine this viewer’s bafflement when the exhibition turned out to be a video collage randomly alternating lavender and lemon landscapes with close-ups of Nosferatu-like ogres ogling a panting woman. The titular whale appeared for five seconds. Upstairs, I find myself surrounded by a collection of tables – red magma surface tables, grey-ash tables, more magma tables . . . lots of tables, just sitting there in a meaningful way. Installation art: so meaningful that it goes over my head. The Glasgow Print Studio picks me up again, with its huge spaces full of light and art – not of the installation variety, but of the, well, art variety.
5PM. MR BEN’S SHOP . . . . . . is a vintage den full of the kinds of things I’d like to own but don’t: fur coats, pink leather skirts, leather jackets made from small animals, Audrey Hepburn-style hats and bags. The friendly, black-fringed shop-assistant (what is it about black fringes and the art crowd?) models some of the stuff. I love it. In this kind of place, you turn into a child rummaging in your grandmother’s wardrobe. And the dressing rooms are plastered with old photos of Glasgow families and characters, including some chubby erotica. Heaven. 5.30PM. MONO . . . . . . rocks for two reasons: the record shop and the bar, complete with brewer’s cauldrons. This is the place to find all of Tarkovsky’s films,
Not Now Cato vinyl records, and the monthly Monorail film club. The food is vegan but it looks sumptuous in a carnal way: I glimpse a succulent pile of falafel with salad and hummus, and I swear next time I’ll have that, along with the delicious home-made ginger beer (rumoured to be 3% alcohol rather than 1%) and cheery pink lemonade. The vibe is warm, groovy and unselfconscious. Without wishing to make sweeping generalisations, the best thing about Glasgow is its people.
• Oran Mor 731 Great Western Road, 357 6200, www.oran-mor.co.uk
• Nancy Smillie Shop 53 Cresswell Street, 334 4240, www.nancysmillieshop.com
• De Courcy's Arcade 5–21 Cresswell Lane, 334 6673
• Auntie M's Cake Lounge 24 De Courcy’s Arcade, 334 4053
• Street Level Photoworks Trongate 103, 552 2151, www.streetlevelphotoworks.org
• Transmission Gallery 28 King Street, 552 7141, www.transmissiongallery.org
• Glasgow Print Studio Trongate 103, 552 0704, www.gpsart.co.uk
• Mr Ben's 101 King Street, 553 1936, www.mrbenretroclothing.com
• Mono 10 King's Court, 553 2400, www.monocafebar.com