No question about it, Glasgow’s ever-burgeoning art scene is a force to be reckoned with. A magnet for Turner nominees and prizewinners, the city boasts one of the largest civic arts collections in Europe. With 24 hours comes the chance to dip your toe into the fruitful waters of Glasgow’s scintillating art scene — consider this your go-to guide.
A true Glasgow icon, the prolific architect, designer, water colourist and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh has left his rose-flecked modernist print across the city.
House For An Art Lover
No need for an embellished introduction, House For An Art Lover, a unique art gallery, exhibition space, café, and events spot, is a mere 10 minutes from the city centre in Bellahouston Park. Although designed by Mackintosh in 1901 as part of a German arts magazine contest, it wasn’t built until 1989. Interestingly, Mackintosh was disqualified from the contest due to a lack of detail — if only the judges could have seen the end result! A true art wonderland with signature Mackintosh touches, make sure to explore every nook and cranny, including the rest of the park and the Elephant For Glasgow by Kenny Hunter.
Different from House For An Art Lover, Mackintosh House, situated within the Hunterian Art Gallery, is an impeccable reconstruction of Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald’s home at 78 Southpark Avenue. Although the actual house didn’t survive the test of time, the interiors did and are now the pride and joy of the Hunterian. If possible, make the most of the guided tours, as the information divulged is worth discovering.
As one of the first public commissions of Mackintosh’s, The Lighthouse is an architectural masterpiece made for marvelling at. The tours offer invaluable insight into the building’s design qualities, as well as the architectural heritage of Mackintosh.
Glasgow is famed for its range of museums. If visiting all of them in the course of 24 hours seems a task too daunting, then Kelvingrove and Provand’s Lordship are fail-safe choices.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery And Museum
When it comes to Kelvingrove, it’s hard to tell which is more impressive — the interior or exterior. An art lover’s utopia, this free art gallery and museum hosts 22 themed galleries showcasing over 8,000 objects, along with masterpieces from Rembrandt, Renoir and Dali. Don’t miss Christ Of St John Of The Cross, Salvador Dalí’s iconic painting from 1951, or Vincent Van Gogh’s portrait of Alexander Reid.
Dating back to 1471 and impeccably preserved, Provand’s Lordship is one of the few surviving medieval buildings in Glasgow. Thanks to Sir William Burrell, the rooms are dressed with furniture from the 17th century, and hanging on the walls are historical royal portraits of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots and Henry VIII. Don’t forget to wander the sanctuary of the accompanying St Nicholas Garden — the Tontine Heads will either inspire or discourage!
St Mungo Museum Of Religious Life And Art
An undeniable conversation (or argument) starter, St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is a museum dedicated solely to religion. Exhibits cover every major religion in the world, with the Zen Garden and Islamic calligraphy sculpture proving popular. The perfect pit stop after touring the Provand’s Lordship, due to its handy nearby location.
Little pockets of serenity amidst the sprawling urban jungle, Glasgow’s art galleries are hard to beat.
A space suited to moments of reflection, GoMA is the heart of Glasgow’s contemporary art scene. The works are meticulously chosen and always act as a perfect platform for aspiring artists to draw inspiration. The ever-changing displays are indicative of the multifaceted nature of the city’s art vibe.
Dynamic and visionary, Trongate 103 is an Eden of all things art. From the Glasgow Print Studio and Transmission, to Project Ability, this coveted spot is a centre for arts organisations. Anyone with an affinity for contemporary art will fall head over heels for this exciting art space. Whether it’s an art talk, workshop or reading, there’s always something going on in this impressive Edwardian former warehouse.
If time permits, a wee gander in Tramway is always a worthwhile. This contemporary arts centre is housed in a former tram depot and boasts multiple exhibition spaces, including Tramway 2, which is one of the largest sole galleries in Europe. Do save time for a stroll in the surreptitiously placed Hidden Gardens, a prime hangout spot for arty folk.
You don’t have to wander far to realise the unbreakable bond between Glaswegians and art; sometimes all it takes is looking up or gazing at a building.
City Centre Mural Trail
Powerful and enrapturing, Glasgow, unbeknown to many, is home to a varied display of street art. From a modern day Saint Mungo and a girl giant with a magnifying glass, to the world’s most economical taxi, exotic birds escaping captivity, and a group of animals at a café, these mammoth artistic wonders are the work of talented street artists such as Rogue One and Smug. To ensure a flawless mural experience, grab one of the City Centre Mural Trail maps and enter into an artistic playground.
There’s nothing worse than getting lost in the beauty of a weird conceptual painting when an obscenely loud growling tummy rumble occurs, echoing around the gallery silence. To keep such instances at bay, head to these arty eateries.
An unbeatable culinary institution, Cafe Gandolfi has been part of the artistic psyche for over 30 years now. The menu is unashamedly Scottish, the vibe bohemian chic and the highlight happens to be the John Clark stained glass windows and furniture by Tim Stead.
Those that see the Glasgow School Of Art as a mandatory pilgrimage (you should — it’s amazing), can pop in to The Vic Bar & Cafe for some top-notch scran at an appealing price. Although part of the student union, The Vic is open to one and all.
Saramago Cafe Bar
Vegans listen up — Saramago Cafe Bar satisfies every foodie desire and then some. Situated within the Centre for Contemporary Arts (definitely worth a visit to see what’s on), the menu is a welcoming dose of healthier than usual fare. They have beer too.
The Drygate Brewery
Those who dream of doing the art tour of the city but fall victim to the joys of socialising and boozing, should show The Drygate Brewery some love. The hip furnishings are art in themselves and the beer bottles, which are designed by Glasgow School of Art students, are cool enough to keep as a souvenir.