THE FIRST IMPRESSIONISTS
The adorable Mrs Who? and I decided to pay a visit to Glasgow on Saturday to some shopping and to visit the famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.
Many moons ago, when I was a young shaver, making my way in the world of graphics and exhibition design, I was seconded as a trainee to the Kelvingrove facility and spent a highly enjoyable month working there mounting a large exhibition in the main entrance hall
Having seen the press reports of the major refit of the galleries, which took some two years to complete, I was really looking forward to seeing what modifications and improvements had been made to the place
Boy, was I disappointed
Apart from the dreadful new, under-stocked & over-priced tearoom, the place showed no visible modifications that impressed me, and the whole dimly lit, badly displayed, poorly managed facility was, in my eyes, a bloody disgrace considering how much time, effort and finance has gone into the refurbishment
As you enter the main hall, the first thing to catch your eye is the sign that directs to the “Glasgow Stories” exhibition … a must for me, as a writer whose interests at present are very much concerned in Glasgow’s past … and, surely, an immediate interest for any tourists to our city … and what’s the first thing on display?
A large exhibit of two huge cases containing two football scarves, of the Rangers and Celtic variety, a sash from the Orange Order, and a huge banner portraying William of Orange … seemingly a representative cross-section of Glaswegian culture, and the religious intolerance that our city is famous for
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh … I was furious!!
Maybe our city is well-known for this sorta puerile nonsense because writers, commentators, and the media in general, keep giving it such bloody prominence in any exposition of Glasgow.
I’ve lived my whole life in Glasgow and have rarely ever witnessed any real bigotry or religious intolerance … this might well be explained by the fact that I’ve only ever attended one football match, when I was in my teens, and …. I don’t hang out with assholes!
Sure … I know there are plenty of pig-ignorant bigots, racists, and twats here in Glasgow … as many as you’d find proportionately in any large conurbation … but I bet Leeds doesn’t “celebrate” the culture of BNP twats in its community in exhibitions, or does Aberdeen have a photographic homage to drunken oil-rig workers on a hooker-based night out
Glasgow can be its own worst enemy in continually portraying itself in a negative stereotype, whose basis actually resides in the events of past decades
Football and bigotry?
Is that the face of Glasgow we wish the world to see?
The Glasgow I know bears no relationship to the crap that’s being peddled n Kelvingrove – the Glaswegians that I meet are not being represented by these portrayals of excess, whether in bigotry, in sport, whether in violence, in drinking, or in the average day-to-day life of the average punter
But maybe that would be difficult to illustrate in an exhibition
The rest of the exhibition, to be honest, was lost on me, as I was so pissed off by this first exhibit, … but the other displays that I looked at were so badly lit, obscured by reflections on the glass cases, and bloody boring, that we just checked out the French Paintings (my two favourites were on loan to other galleries), had a quick once-around-the-houses of the ground floor exhibits where an inordinate amount of dead animals are displayed, and left … a bit dejected, and annoyed.
Maybe I’m being a bit over-the-top, as Mrs Who? usually suggests, but c’mon Glasgow, can’t we show ourselves to be slightly better than this?
Remember … it’s hard to change first impressions.