Glasgow’s alternative galleries

Credit: Art Pistol 

Leah Higgins

A tour of Glasgow’s lesser-known art spots.

It may be standard for students to be pulled towards the major cultural institutions of Glasgow like Kelvingrove, as swanky, intimate galleries may oft seem too intimidating to be student friendly. However, with the recent push for more inclusive and diverse spaces open to the public, it is undoubtedly worth exploring the hidden gems of Glasgow’s art scene. 

The Modern Institute
The Modern Institute has been exposing Glasgow to a collective of international artists since its opening in 1997. This gallery branches across two exhibition spaces, one in a converted bath house on Osbourne Street and the other a warehouse space just a stone’s throw away. The exhibitions give a contemporary edge, perfectly contrasting the industrial and domestic settings of each space. The connections internationally and to the city help to situate Glasgow as a place of cultural significance. The so carefully curated exhibitions immerse audiences completely in the work, matching walls and spaces to illuminate each exhibition. Currently showing is New York artist Dike Blair’s exhibition which echoes the habits of everyday life through the medium of oil painting. 

SaltSpace Cooperative
The SaltSpace Cooperative is fresh to the scene, having opened in 2019 with the aim to create a space of diversity, collaboration and participation. It is the best contemporary space to watch emerging talent and art school alumni perfect their craft. Expanding across three areas, it functions as a non-profit organisation providing support to students and graduates through residencies, exhibitions and sales. SaltSpace includes a diverse range of work expanding all mediums, offering visitors an expertly curated range of artwork. I recommend following @SaltSpaceCoop on Instagram to keep up to date on exhibitions and creator’s markets. 

Compass Gallery
The owner of The Compass Gallery, Jill Gerber, has established a collection of work which showcases the best of recent art school graduates alongside the established figureheads of Scotland’s contemporary art scene. The quaint gallery located underground is packed to the brim with works that visitors are invited to scour through, the light of the immense windows providing an excellent viewing experience. The tranquil and cosy feel of the gallery gives this supportive cooperative a stellar reputation with visitors. If the inviting atmosphere doesn’t convince you to pay a visit, then perhaps the resident golden labrador may!

Art Pistol
When looking for your art-fix in between lectures, it’s absolutely worth visiting Art Pistol. It’s easy to see why this gallery is popular with emerging artists, as it champions bold and exciting work; the art exhibited here could keep the audience’s attention for hours, as within the highly experimental content there is plenty to uncover. Crossing the boundaries between mediums and disciplines, the gallery is not for the faint of heart or traditionalist – lovers of Warhol-esque Pop Art and unconventional use of colour will certainly enjoy the work here. The gallery is set up in a Paris salon-like fashion, work covering the walls floor to ceiling – a real visual pleasure to the eye. Located in De Courcy’s Arcade, a five-minute walk from campus, it is most certainly worth a snoop. 

Voidoid Archive
It may be difficult to sneak a visit to this gallery, as the opening times change depending on the exhibition. Despite this, visits to the Voidoid Archive are certainly worth waiting for! The space, set up by Turner prize-nominated Glaswegian Jim Lambie, boasts an impressive selection of works by collectives and singular artists. Also functioning as an Archive for Lambie’s work amongst others, hence the quirky name. Constructed of white walls, the area functions as a blank canvas. Giving breathing space for the work to speak for itself, the approach is certainly more minimalist than others on the list, but by no means less captivating. You can make a day of it by heading to The Poetry Club afterwards to catch some music or performance art – both are situated at 100 Eastvale Place, beneath the Partick railway line. 

Glasgow has an abundance of gallery spaces to explore in all corners of the city. It is crucial to support the established and modern spaces which have worked to open up to new audiences and support Glasgow’s ever-flourishing art scene.


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