Credit: Geograph

Recommendations for exploring Glasgow’s post-lockdown art scene

By Callum Johnson

Glasgow galleries and museums reopening from 26 April.

Art galleries and museums have been given the go-ahead to reopen in Scotland from the 26 April. While we might all be more interested in the (admittedly more exciting) prospect of being able to enjoy a draught pint again, I would encourage everyone to put a visit to a gallery near the top of their list. 

Over the past year, the importance of the arts has become more and more apparent, as has the precarious situation they find themselves in. As the world moved online, so did many galleries by offering virtual visits – it’s an exciting thought being able to “visit” the Rijksmuseum, Guggenheim and Louvre all in one morning in your pyjamas with a cup of tea. While this does have its benefits, most notably making these collections much more accessible, I think everyone would agree that these experiences are just not the same as being in-person. 

There are the obvious disadvantages of not being able to properly realise the texture of work, colours may not appear digitally as they do naturally, and it is difficult to appreciate the scale of art. However, visiting a gallery is also a multi-sensory experience, the same as going to a gig, theatre, or cinema. It is hard to articulate why, but I would argue that the atmosphere and setting of a gallery can be just as important as the work itself. Imagine going to a gig or a theatre where there was no crowd; it just wouldn’t be the same experience. 

I’m sure many, like me, have felt more stressed or anxious over the past year and felt a lack of motivation and inspiration after staring at the four walls of your bedroom or the, now exotic, library all day. However, art has the ability to not only inspire us, but also relax us, providing more reason for those Kelvingrove study (procrastination) breaks when the gallery opens again.

In Glasgow, we are so fortunate to have such a wide range of galleries, from large collections of historic work to small artist-run spaces showcasing local and emerging artists. It’s difficult to give recommendations, as art is so subjective, but with most, if not all, of Glasgow’s galleries being free, I would encourage you to get out there and explore what Glasgow has to offer when they reopen. 

The West End is not home to not one, but two world-famous collections at the University’s very own Hunterian Gallery and Kelvingrove. A visit to Kelvingrove is a firm staple in the Glasgow Uni experience. Can you really call yourself a Glasgow Uni wanker if you haven’t taken a photo with Sophie Cave’s Floating Heads? It houses an extensive permanent collection of western art and pays homage to local artistic icons with galleries dedicated to the Scottish watercolourists, the Glasgow boys, and Charles Rennie Macintosh. With such an extensive collection, there’s something for everyone, including a personal highlight: the tacky plastic Elvis statue. And if all else fails, the balconies provide the perfect backdrop to update your Instagram feed. 

This summer is looking particularly exciting on the Glasgow art scene as the rescheduled 9th edition of the Glasgow International (GI) is taking place. GI is a biennial festival for contemporary visual arts and after being postponed last year, it will now take place from 11 – 27 June. Whilst the complete rescheduled program is still yet to be confirmed, it is likely to closely follow what was originally planned for last year, exploring the theme of Attention. The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is probably most famous for being the building behind the Duke of Wellington Statue (the statue with the traffic cone on its head in town). However, this summer it will be the centre point of GI, showcasing a newly commissioned body of work by Canadian artist Nep Sidhu. The festival provides the perfect opportunity to discover what Glasgow has to offer, as it combines international artists and large venues along with local artists and smaller venues. GI prides itself on being completely admission free, and I would thoroughly recommend using it to explore Glasgow’s art scene. 

It’s easy to forget how spoiled we are in Glasgow with a world-class art scene right on our doorstep. I would encourage you to enjoy the new appreciation for the arts that has become apparent over lockdown, and get out there and explore – you never know what you might find!


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