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Freshers’ 2020 guide to Glasgow’s art scene

By Archie Gibbs

Read on for a comprehensive guide of Glasgow’s hottest art spots this autumn.

Keeping up with a city like Glasgow’s art scene can be exhausting to say the least. Whether you’re a fresher joining the University or a seasoned Glaswegian, sometimes we all need a point in the direction of what’s hot and what’s not. Adapting to the new normal of our post-lockdown reality, Glasgow’s internationally recognised institutions are now back and beckoning visitors. From independent galleries to mammoth collections, here is your guide to navigate and consume art in Glasgow this autumn. 

First up on most cultural attraction lists of the city is Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  Synonymous with the Glasgow University aesthetic of alternative west-enders, the museum always tops these rankings. Favoured by traditionalists, this historic institution has all the hallmarks of reputability, with a collection including work by Rembrandt and Van Gogh. As far as Glasgow art goes, this is surely not what you came here for, as it lacks the rough-around-the-edges charm we so admire of our city. Perhaps more suited for a visit on a rainy afternoon, it’s still worth checking out.

Another distinguishable edifice is the city centre located Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Renowned for its traffic-coned equestrian statue, it is undoubtedly the largest contemporary art collection and exhibition space in the city. GOMA is a public art space which rarely disappoints and is great for a visit if you wish to kill an hour in town. With notable shows including Aaron Angell’s taking place just last year, it’s certainly worth checking out their website for an exhibition schedule to see if any artists spark your interest.   

The Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) situated on Sauchiehall Street, is a stalwart in Glasgow’s contemporary art scene. Around the corner from The Glasgow School of Art and often filled with fashionable students, you feel instantly that bit cooler when you enter the multipurpose space. A quick turn-around of shows means that this is a space you must keep tabs on, as the CCA brings in a range of global artists working in a wide spectrum of narratives, mediums and disciplines, so there is guaranteed to be something you like. If that doesn’t swing it for you, they have top eatery and bar Saramago Cafe located inside, along with an in-house bookshop brimming with enough Berlin art journals to fill your heart and eco tote bag’s desire. If you are looking for space to have your finger on the pulse which isn’t totally elitist and inaccessible, CCA is the spot for you. 

The larger private galleries in the city, Modern Institute and Koppe Astner, are driving factors in the city’s status as an important centre of global contemporary art.  With rosters of high performing artists with CVs to match, these two spaces are unmissable for those who want to keep in the loop of local emerging and internationally solid talent. The nexus of Koppe Astner as a proponent of historically underrepresented artists has paid off with their nascent talent pool picking up awards, such as Turner Prize and Venice Biennale representation.  Keep an eye on their website for a video screening of Turner Prize 2018 winner Charlotte Prodger’s latest film. Modern Institute has the greater infrastructure and more recognisable roster of the two, with the likes of Jeremy Deller, Martin Boyce, and Eva Rothschild represented by the gallery. With two locations in the city gearing up to begin exhibiting again, make sure to check out Julia Chiang’s exhibition opening on 25 September at Modern Institute on Osborne Street, as well as Walter Price’s solo exhibition in November (dates TBA). 

Tramway is a nationally acclaimed exhibition space which also hosts seasonal ballet, dance and drama performances. The space is a permanent fixture in the Glasgow International Biennial, the award-winning visual art festival taking place across the city next spring while hosting a carefully selected number of artists’ shows every few months. Arguably the most complete space for experiencing large scale installation and video works, Tramway excels at gargantuan multimedium exhibitions, including Mark Leckey’s Nobodaddy in 2018. Be sure to check their website for shows or film screenings before heading to Pollokshields – it will certainly be worth it as a step out of your comfort zone both geographically and culturally. 

Honourable mentions must include the excellent Transmission Gallery and the Glasgow Print Studio. Make sure to extend your cultural reach out of the familiar and support living, local and marginalised artists. Keep an eye out for information regarding the postponed Glasgow Biennial commencing early next year, sign up to gallery mailing lists for exhibition and opening night information (free wine!), and stay up to date with all art-related news concerning the city right here, at The Glasgow Guardian. 


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