It’s no secret that Glasgow has undergone a great shift over the past decades. The former titan of industry is, today, a cultural powerhouse and nowhere is this more evident than in its burgeoning art scene. As the wee lads and lasses graduate from the iconic Glasgow School of Art, we caught up with the brightest of the bunch. Read on for more about their work, about what’s hot in the city’s art scene and why you should explore this cultural metropolis.
Glasgow’s artistic credentials read like Picasso’s C.V.. Way back in 1990 it became the UK’s first city to be named the European Capital of Culture and since then it’s attracted the largest and most diverse creative crowd outside of London – with many Turner prizewinners and nominees among them to boot. The Glasgow School of Art is a magnet for such virtuosos, and raring to unearth the Dear Green Places’ blooming young talent, citizenM Glasgow has transformed into a living, breathing gallery showcasing some of its most promising graduates’ work.
We’re flinging open our doors to the public from 8 – 24 June for a chance to see work by Jamie Russom, Alex Stursberg, Marija Nemčenko and Chloë Reid peppered among our usual installations. Sleeping guests can flick to channel 59 for video art works. When you’ve done gawping, take a 15-minute walk to the Glue Factory where the entire Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Degree Show is on display (8 –18 June).
What do you get when you set a piano alight in the Mojave desert? Dead Keys. No, that’s not the latest indie boy band. It’s an innovative video installation exploring the intersection between life and death by LA-based artist Jamie Russom. Having received her MFA in 2016, her work has been exhibited across the US and Europe and, of course, citizenM Glasgow’s living room. WARNING: pianos were harmed during the making of this video.
What inspires you?
I walk everywhere; there’s something about being on foot, slowing down and taking in the environment. I shot lots of videos, stills and ambient sounds as I walked through the parks, up to the cathedral and around the south side. I also love the people watching – Glasgow's great for that.
What do you love most about the city?
I saw a street musician with a huge crowd all belting out the sappy ballads we hate to love. I love that Glasgow is so raw, with little pretense.
What makes Glasgow’s art scene stand out?
The arts community is especially supportive of emerging artists – there’s a very grass-roots feel. There’s an openness and accessibility to art you don’t find in other major urban centres; people get out to the events and show an interest in what others are doing.
Tell us about your favourite galleries.
I like Common Guild for the innovative artists it exhibits and its awesome location near Kelvingrove Park. The Burrell Collection also has a great collection and a lovely setting in Pollok Country Park; its cafe overlooks all the greenery. The East End’s Market Gallery has a fantastic programme of exhibitions and performances by local talent.
What should visitors do that you won’t find in Glasgow’s guide books?
There's a brilliant second hand book store off of Otago Lane called Voltaire and Rousseau. The owner is a proper Glaswegian. It's a sweet little shop with loads of great finds. Plus the owner is super friendly, as are most Glaswegians! He'll give you a taste for the locals and offer some great history on Glasgow's by-gone days.
British-born conceptual artist Alex Stursberg moved to Vancouver after graduating from Glasgow School of Art’s MFA in 2016. His works have been shown across the UK, Canada and Mexico. Visitors to citizenM Glasgow will likely recognise his works You Can’t Surf If You Don’t Know How to Swim and ~65% from our first floor. These water-focused video collages give old footage a new and innovative flush of life.
What do you love most about Glasgow?
It’s perhaps the most welcoming place I've ever been. When I first arrived I thought all these outgoing Glaswegians must want something from me, until I realised they just wanted to chat.
How does the city inspire your artwork?
Museums in Glasgow are mostly free, so there is no shortage of opportunities to expand your mind. Kelvingrove Park and Museum provided me with many moments of quiet contemplation.
A what makes its art scene stand out?
Experimentation, freedom, and support. Everyone is on the same team. Everyone just wants to enjoy some good art and chat about it.
Which are your three favourite galleries and why?
Good Press Gallery is at the centre of Glasgow’s emerging artist scene. It features a bi-monthly exhibitions and a huge range of artist publications that you won't find anywhere else. Glasgow Sculpture Studios, meanwhile, balances supporting emerging artists and working with those that are internationally established so you’ll find a good range of works here. Apartment Gallery Celine is curated by cool kids from the Glasgow School of Art MFA program and definitely has its finger on the pulse of what's new and good.
What don’t Glasgow’s guide books tell you?
Rent a bike and head north along the Kelvin River from Great Western Road. The further you bike the more you will see, ruined buildings, abandoned train bridges, beautiful birds and much more. If the weather is right, this is a really nice way to see a different part of Glasgow.
Tell us a phrase you’d only hear in Glasgow.
‘Give me three wee seconds’ (when really they mean ten minutes).
Since graduating from the MFA in 2016, Marija Nemčenko has run creative workshops, strenghtening the social engagement of her artistic practice. Much like our mobile citizens, her work takes her across the world, from her home country of Lithuania to Morocco and the world’s greatest city (that’s Glasgow, FYI). Look out for her satirical video performance Mundane (2013) on the first floor. Don’t be fooled by the title – there’s nothing run-of-the-mill about this installation.
What do you love about Glasgow?
It has an incredibly interesting history that is visible through places and people that seem of no significance at first, like hidden gems waiting to be unearthed.
How does Glasgow inspire your artwork?
I’m currently working on a project focusing on Brutalist architecture and social housing, inspired by Glasgow’s redevelopment period.
What makes the city’s art scene stand out?
Artists here are charged with social and political agency expressed through not only exhibitions, but also, cooking workshops, film festivals, symposiums, and more. The artistic community here is very active and that is surely visible through the amount of artist led galleries and projects that pop up each week.
Tell us about some of your favourite galleries.
The Centre for Contemporary Arts and Common Guild always have a great selection of events. David Dale Gallery & Studios is another space worth checking out, especially during its summer residency programs.
Where’s the best place in Glasgow for a quirky holiday snapshot?Though Glasgow Necropolis is spectacular, it’s more respectful to take the holiday snapshots at the nearby Tennent’s brewery where one could pose with a ‘T’ glass.
citizenM loves fresh talent. And there’s no brighter young thing than South African-born Chloë Reid, set to graduate this year. Her work explores the social and psychological frameworks that condition our everyday actions, whether that’s climbing the stairs or climbing into one of citizenM’s legendary beds. We’re exhibiting her film Notebook (2017). Gosling aficionados may be disappointed.
What’s great about Glasgow?
In summer it barely gets dark here. There’s a kind of twilight even in the middle of the night that’s really lovely.
And how does the city inspire your work?
My work focuses on the kind of things that are generally considered to be quite boring. I recently went to a market near Queen’s Park where I bought some soap made with whiskey. When I have a shower, I come out smelling like a smokey single malt. Part of this soap features in one of my films. I also bought some wild boar sausages at the market. These haven’t yet made it into any of my pieces.
Where’s the best place in Glasgow for a holiday snapshot?
A friend of mine has hair almost the exact same colour and texture of a highland cow in Pollok Park. Whether you possess an auburn mane or not, I recommend visiting the park – especially during spring and early summer when there are many fluffy calves.