A Mackintosh school and an old tramshed: two Glasgow galleries

Glasgow has purpose built museums and galleries such as Kelvingrove and the new Riverside (still to be visited when the schools go back and it quietens down) but today we visited two more unusual venues. Both are on the Southside – Glasgow is divided by the Clyde and I’m ashamed to say I really haven’t got a clue where I’m going when I cross the river, especially since the M74 extension has just cut across even the bits I thought I knew. After some fraught attempts we eventually got near enough to our first venue to abandon the car and walk.

Scotland Street School was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, but is now a museum of education.

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We visited to see the temporary exhibition, The Glesga that I used to know, a series of black and white pictures of Glasgow around 1976. It was fascinating, not least because it scared me to think that I was already grown up and at university by then, yet it looked like ancient history. While there, we had a quick walk round the permanent exhibits and I got all nostalgic again about the 1950s/60s classroom which reminded me so much of my own primary school days.

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The place certainly looked as though it could do with some refurbishment, the outside in particular had peeling paint and lots of weeds, but it’s a lovely little museum, well worth a visit. To round ours off, we had tea in the small cafe which had quite an ambitious menu for its size and was bright and attractive.

Off we set for the Tramway, which was our main destination. I blogged last week about the British Art Show and how we had visited two of the three venues in Glasgow. The Tramway is the third. You can still see the tracks in the floor from its days as a tramshed, after which it was a Transport Museum and now a venue for contemporary visual art and performance. It also has a good cafe (very important I find) and a “Hidden Garden” – though you just walk out the back door, and there it is.

I can’t say I enjoyed the exhibition as much as the ones last week. There were several sculptures by Sarah Lucas which were accomplished, but not really my thing, but most of the rest consisted of installations which are absolutely, definitely not my thing. We watched some of a film by Duncan Campbell which pieced together media interviews with Bernadette Devlin. This was interesting because, whatever you think of her politics, she came across as so confident and decisive for a young woman of 21. But is that art? I’m not sure. One exhibit was entitled Bench, fire and youth. At first I just thought it was for sitting on, but apparently “at unspecified intervals, a flame will flare at one end of the bench, occasionally tended by a naked young man”. That would probably have been the most interesting part of the afternoon, but it didn’t happen while we were there. Nae luck.

The Tramway exhibition is on until 21st August and the Scotland Street one until 8th January.

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