A hotbed of creative talent, Scotland’s biggest city has produced some of the globe’s most innovative designers, artists, musicians and performers. The renowned Glasgow School of Art has led the way, from architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s progressive style to a steady stream of successful alumni, including actor Robbie Coltrane, members of Franz Ferdinand and a generous clutch of Turner Prize winners and nominees. Whether you’re into alternative theatre, animated sculptures or fresh-on-the-scene artists and bands, there’s no shortage of events and venues to check out. What better time to explore Glasgow’s cultural hotspots than 2012, the ‘Year of Creative Scotland’?
While big-name attractions such as the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the Gallery of Modern Art and the shimmering Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum are must-sees in Glasgow, take time to uncover the city’s independent galleries and art establishments. Begin at the Modern Institute (14-20 Osborne Street, 0141 248 3711), which represents around 40 artists, including 2011 Turner winner Martin Boyce, showcasing their work at home and abroad.
Similarly, the Royal Glasgow Institute Kelly Gallery (118 Douglas Street, 0141 248 6386) stages a vibrant range of exhibitions, lunchtime lectures and artist demonstrations throughout the year and is an enthusiastic supporter of upcoming Scottish artists. For over 150 years, the institute has produced the prestigious Annual Exhibition, highlighting contemporary art. The 2012 event takes place from 16 September to 6 October at The Mitchell Library (North Street).
For another imaginative programme of shows and activities, drop into the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) (350 Sauchiehall Street, 0141 352 4900). This dynamic arts centre curates six major modern art exhibitions each year and hosts an eclectic array of film, spoken word and music events. Soak up the buzz and listen to live DJs over beers and tapas in the bar – check out DJ Afrodeesia on the third Saturday of each month for some majorly hopping African dance tunes. CCA is also home to a super cool list of Cultural Tenants, from art publication MAP magazine to Camcorder Guerrillas, a voluntary collective of film-makers raising awareness of social justice issues.
Daring and dramatic
One of Glasgow’s hottest performance venues is The Glue Factory (22 Farnell Street), which opened in 2010 after a transformation of a leaky, derelict … yes, you guessed it … glue factory. The stark industrial spaces and decommissioned glue vats make for an alternative setting for offbeat productions and installations. It’s part of the regenerated Speirs Locks neighbourhood, which counts Scottish Opera and the Royal Scottish Conservatoire among its notable residents. The latest reincarnation of this canal-side industrial estate turned arts quarter is The Whisky Bond (Dawson Road, 077 1717 8342). The converted six-storey red-brick warehouse opened in April 2012 with the aim of becoming a ‘creative factory’, offering work studios and facilities to artists, designers and architects along with public galleries.
Another relative newcomer to Glasgow’s arts scene in another renovated warehouse (a fabulous Edwardian edifice this time) is Trongate 103 (103 Trongate, 0141 276 8380). Among its diverse artistic residents is Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre. Hailing from Russia originally, the group stages enchanting, extraordinary performances of mechanically animated sculptures. Trongate 103 is also home to the Glasgow Print Studio, which offers beginner weekend workshops in a variety of printing techniques, from etching to woodcutting.
For theatre of the human variety, The Tron (63 Trongate, 0141 552 4267) puts on an enticing programme of plays in an intimate setting and is home to the highly acclaimed Tron Theatre Company. The Citizens Theatre (119 Gorbals Street, 0141 429 0022) produces everything from British and international classics to new dramas. And though not-for-profit The Arches (253 Argyle Street, 0141 565 1000) may be well known for its club nights (hosted by the likes of Carl Cox and David Guetta), it’s also one of the city’s leading theatre spaces.
Glasgow boasts a formidable reputation for film-making too, though in a departure from its customary art house flicks the city centre was transformed into an American street scene for upcoming Brad Pitt movie World War Z in 2011. While you’re unlikely to bump into Brad and Angelina on Sauchiehall Street, stop off at the Glasgow Film Theatre (12 Rose Street, 0141 332 6535) for a first-rate selection of independent and global releases. From 14 to 24 February 2013, the cinema will be home to the Glasgow Film Festival.
Glasgow nightlife is cracking and there are plenty of chances to catch upcoming and established bands, chill out over beers or dance till the wee hours.
Fill up on tasty veggie fare at 13th Note (50-60 King Street, 0141 553 1638) and hang around to hear resident DJs in the bar on Fridays and Saturdays or a wide assortment of gigs throughout the week. It has a recording studio downstairs should you feel inspired to lay down your own tracks.
There’s a laid-back atmosphere and a handy in-house record store at Mono (12 Kings Court, 0141 553 2400). You can rummage for independent-label current music or second-hand vinyl classics while sipping on a home-made ginger beer from the on-site microbrewery.
Mingle with hipsters and future artistic greats at The Art School (468 Sauchiehall Street, 0141 331 1328). Glasgow School of Art’s student union (also open to non-students) moved to a new venue in 2011 and presents a packed calendar of gigs, club nights and artist talks. Tuesday’s weekly Soul Supper Club fuses food and music – dig into platefuls of slow-cooked pulled pork and Creole gumbo to the smooth tunes of 1960s American soul.
The late-night place to be is the Sub Club (22 Jamaica Street, 0141 248 4600). Still going strong after 25 years, it delivers all genres of electronic DJ cuts to discerning clubbers. Subculture on Saturdays is the classic night.
Whatever you do, don’t forget to soak up the beers with a legendary Glasgow curry – pop into locals’ favourites Mother India (28 Westminster Terrace, 0141 221 1663) or Balbir’s (7 Church Street, 0141 339 7711).
For all current cultural events and music listings, pick up a copy of The List on arrival.
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