After visiting the inspiring Banksy Exhibition this summer in Glasgow I was left inspired, nostalgically teary eyed and invigorated.
The exhibition really made me start thinking about Glasgow's own relationship to street art. The GOMA exhibit opened with some tweets from the beginning of Banksy career. One horrific and crude opionion from the public about street artists at the time at was tweeted "they should have their hands cut off"
This opinion was such a striking illustration of how some art can be seen in one context at one time. It was striking because I read the comment in a fully booked , highly commended , ticketed exhibit in the Gallery of Modern Art. An exhibit solely celebrating the art of one street artist called Banksy. An artist that challenges our excepted power dynamics and he somehow manages to strip and redirect the power with art.
This made me start thinking about Glasgow and its own relationship to street art. Notably the council's decisions on spending money on covering it alongside decisions of celebrating it. Do you know that in 2020, the city spent £649,000 on graffiti removal? Im guessing the same decision makers have commisoned and created a Mural trail that is loved my tourists and locals of the city alike. So in one hand feeling out of touch with brown paint covering up art while supporting artists to joyfully add colour and character to our city.
However these artworks will always be open to opinion, especially as these artworks are so highly visible. I was struck by my own feelings. I was shocked to see and struggled to understand why during the COP 26 city 'tidy up' The area of wall along the Clyde was painted over in brown brown yucky brown paint. Not only covering a spectacularly colourful changing landscape of expression along the Clydeside but also ironically recreating a perfect blank canvas for more artwork. How much did this limited time only cover up cost?
Panda and his campaign to make this a dedicated legal graffiti wall has been argued in parliament and I support it strongly. I would recommend not only looking out for his own artwork ( huge big colourful heads) but supporting the work he does with Colour Ways. Colour Ways, curates murals with local communities, runs street art workshops with young people and hosts walking tours of the city's graffiti.
This censorship of graffiti with brown paint when the dignatories come to town is very much in the style of a Gable end mural found round the corner, one looking over Billys garden. It was this dilemma that got me thinking about which artworks I would document in my painting. My work was to be about what I and the people of Glasgow love. I decided I was going to look not at the pescribed mural trail of Glasgow City Council, but my own trail. A trail that takes us across the city, through history, the future and potential politics of commissioned street artworks that are on the towering gable end canvass throughout the city.
Watch this space to see which gable end murals make the cut to the final artwork and to see if this purswades the council to let me paint the wall at Dixon Street anytime soon. ;-)
Progress video below.. below