JIM BRADY (Nanobot’s guitarist, and all-round good-guy) was saying:
“I’ve been saying for years there should be statue of Alex Harvey in Glasgow. Maybe replace that one of Donald Dewar at the top of Buchanan St?”
Alex Harvey (5 February 1935 – 4 February 1982) was a Scottishrock and rollrecording artist. With his Sensational Alex Harvey Band, he built a strong reputation as a live performer during the 1970s glam rock era. The band was renowned for its eclecticism and energetic live performance, Harvey for his charismatic persona and daredevil stage antics.
I’d just been having the same conversation elsewhere, concerning the need for a statue for Matt McGinn … Glaswegian poet, folk singer/comedian/humourist and social activist
Both McGinn and Harvey were real culural icons, and part of a rich legacy of “workingclass-heroes” whose legacy is regularly ignored by the “city-fathers”, here in Glasgow, whilst they regularly celebrate political tumshies like Dewar, as he was part of their self-aggrandizing, self-serving, elitist wee clique
John MacLean, James Maxton, Keir Hardie, Mary Balfour … all ignored
And the statuary of George Square, in a Labour controlled council for decades, shows no recognition of The George Square Riot in 1919, and it’s huge social relevance within Glasgow’s history
I know that in a time of economic hardship, arguing for more civic art is probably a bit imprudent … but if they’re wasting money on Neon Waves and aluminium mermaids at a cost of £millions, here in my hometown of Cumbernauld, they could maybe instead show some respect for the artists, and heroes, who moulded our social & cultural heritage
“In 1997 Ross Birrell tackled this head-on with a performance in one of the shrines of Scottish labour history – George Square:
…Working-Class Hero…took place in George Square. I acquired a makeshift plinth and attached a plaque which read: “Ross Birrell, Working-Class Hero, (b. 1969)”. The performance was a response to a number of things but it was in the main motivated by the desire to signal the presence of an absence: in particular the “Battle of George Square” in 1919 when the Red Flag was hoisted upon the municipal flag-pole and the army were called in to dispel any threat of a repeat of the Soviet revolution in Russia.
The lack of any commemorative plaque or statue to this event and the eradication of the working-class, in general, from any public monuments except war memorials, seemed to me to be rather curious in a City which had been dominated by the Labour Party since before I was born. However, acknowledging that we live in a post-ideological landscape with defined lack of faith in politicians, I did not believe that the solution to this cultural and civic contradiction lay in petitioning for a sculpture of John MacLean to “redress-the-balance” of cultural colonialism.
Apart from my belief that to erect a permanent sculpture would be to replicate an official culture I had come to mistrust, I felt if people really wanted to publicly commemorate this event there would be a statue to MacLean or Maxton in George Square or Glasgow Green by now, complete with bird-shit and optional graffiti. In short, we get the public art we deserve.
That there was no real desire for a monument to a “working-class hero” was a symptom, I understood, of the declining knowledge of or interest in, the historical working-class movements in Glasgow (due mainly to an absence from the history curriculum in secondary schools) combined with a popular “New Labour” denial of its cultural relevance. “