Sunny Govan

January 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

European City of Culture 1990
The Year of Culture was a magnificent success for Glasgow. It was a ground-breaking event, which further transformed the city’s image. Unlike its predecessors, its vast cultural programme was scheduled to run throughout the entire calendar year, not just for a few months.

Its definition of culture was all-encompassing, incorporating not just music, drama, theatre, and visual arts, but many other fields of human endeavour which characterise Glasgow as a unique, dynamic city: architecture, design, engineering, shipbuilding, education, religion and sport.

The statistics were awesome. Over 3,400 public events took place, involving performers and artists from 23 countries. 40 major works were commissioned in the performing and visual arts, and there were 60 world premieres in theatre and dance. Add to that lot some 3979 performances, 656 theatrical productions, and 1901 exhibitions – not forgetting the 157 sporting events.

From big national arts groups to more modest local ventures – all shared a thrilling international stage. No longer could the character Kenneth McAlpin in Alasdair Gray’s seminal novel “Lanark” dare to say that: “imaginatively Glasgow exists as a music hall song and a few bad novels – for that’s all we’ve given to the world!”

The City of Culture tag allowed Glasgow to showcase many facilities created by the city’s Victorian philanthropists. Prime among these were the magnificent Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery housing the richest, most wide-ranging – and most visited– municipal art collection in the UK outside London; the splendid Museum of Transport; and the marvellous Mitchell Library, the largest free public reference library in Europe.

Uniquely, too, Glasgow in 1990 was the first British city to implement a strategy where the arts were used as a catalyst for urban regeneration – a revolutionary model which has since been replicated worldwide. The positive economic repercussions of this successful policy have been huge, and are still being felt well into the new millennium.



January 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

Disney invented Celebration as an ideal American small town. But recession , a brutal murder and a suicide have killed the magic.

The Forgotten Public Art of Cumbernauld

January 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

This was a project archiving and documenting the public art of Cumbernauld which was originally designed and produced by Brian Miller, Cumbernauld’s first and only Town artist.

Many of the works have now been destroyed, painted over or faded into obscurity.

This website is to be seen as an online archive of the fascinating post war British art which was taking place in Scotland’s most famous New Town.

Victor Pasmore. Peterlee

January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

I had the pleasure of taking a field trip to Peterlee, a new town in the north east of England. The basis of the trip was to visit the newly restored Apollo Pavillion, by Victor Pasmore: a public art work and structure based spanning a small lake which divides a housing estate.

Victor Pasmore described it as “… an architecture and sculpture of purely abstract form through which to walk, in which to linger and on which to play, a free and anonymous monument which, because of its independence, can lift the activity and psychology of an urban housing community on to a universal plane.”

After its opening in 1955, it became an immediate focus for local complaint. It became a regular target for local youths and the structure became victim of graffiti and vandalism. When the Peterlee Development Corporation was disbanded the local council refused responsibility for cleaning and repair. As a result, the concrete turned grey and began to decay.

In 1982, Victor Pasmore met with residents at a public meeting at the pavilion. Pasmore suggested that, if anything, the graffiti had humanised the piece, and suggested that the solution would not be to  , but the disruptive families that were abusing it. It was agreed that the stair access would be blocked off and the structure used for planting9

In 1988, English Heritage recommended the structure be given listed status but this was declined. In 2004, the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead commissioned Jane and Louise Wilson to make a video installation featuring the Pavilion. In the mid 2000s, there was a proposal to restore the structure and enlarge the lake, so that the Pavilion would be less accessible.

Following a meeting at the Pavilion in September 2008, it was agreed that the structure would be repaired with lottery funding. Apollo Pavilion is now widely received by the local community. The local youth of today have now returned to the Apollo Pavillion, but with a new found respect and some very tasteful graffiti.

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