Murals Make Glasgow: let’s not let them fade

9 April 2019

Photograph: Dora Pongracz

The murals are a massive attraction so why don’t we look after them a bit better

As one of Scotland’s biggest cities, Glasgow has been the destination for many tourists from all over the world. There are spectacular and unique tourist attractions to see and visitors definitely won’t miss out on the murals that decorate the streets of Glasgow. Some might be in perfect photogenic condition, however some are in the hidden lanes of Glasgow, looking a little worn.

Glasgow City Council is funding many projects to improve the look of the city, for example the Avenues Concept on Sauchiehall Street. The murals are just one of those projects, a comparatively cheaper one, costing approximately £3,500 on average.

The city is well aware and prepared for visitors from all over the world, hence there are plenty of things to do and see, and there are plenty of websites that contain the information every tourist needs to know.

A walk to the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Cathedral or just a walk around the busy city centre, will reveal the unmissable pieces of art on walls and buildings.

The Glasgow City Centre Mural Trail has 25 colourful paintings for those who are looking for outdoors activities and love art. They are free to visit and in just a few hours you can see all of them by following the path created by People Make Glasgow on their website, which provides bright photos of the murals with directions on how to find them.

The project allowed around 20 artists to showcase their talent and artwork on the building of their choice. Most of the buildings are privately owned and permission is needed for an art installation. The council does not have a list of available buildings, it is fully the artist’s decision.

The murals are funded by the council as part of the City Centre Strategy and Action Plan 2014-2019, which aims to give a fresh and colourful look to the buildings and sites across the city centre. The project is also a great way for artists to showcase their work and “contribute to the city’s image as a cultural centre.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “As part of a successful CCMF [City Centre Mural Fund] application, artists must provide a thorough project management plan and demonstrate they can adhere to it (extenuating circumstances notwithstanding). The average duration of an installation is usually around a week, although pre-planning can take many months.”

The spokesperson said: “The most expensive mural to date has been Fellow Glasgow Residents on Ingram Street which was over £15,000 due to the duration of the works and the extensive use of plant hire equipment required. Due to the nature of these works, there was lengthy engagement with local stakeholders and the local community council, and a full open and transparent procurement procedure was followed accordingly.”

The more impact the installations will have on the area the more likely it will be 100% funded whatever the costs are. The responsibility after completion is taken by the council. The GGC spokesperson said: ”Glasgow City Council has provided a general commitment to maintain murals undertaken as part of the CCMT to a reasonable condition, or to “make good” if they become tired. This is to enable landlords to have due comfort when providing permissions to proceed with installation.”

The CCMT has been nominated for several awards, including the UK Planning Awards and Arts and Business Scotland Awards in 2017, where it won the Enterprise Award. The CCMT received several different types of feedback from magazine articles to visitors’ comments on social media or Tripadvisor.

80% of the feedback is “excellent” and there is an unmissable 20% “very good” or “average” on Tripadvisor. That 20% marks the visitors who took the opportunity to share that the murals are great, but that some are not in a good condition.

Wind Power. Photograph: Dora Pongracz

A walk down Mitchell street will take visitors to three of the murals, Wind Power, Honey…I Shrunk the Kids and The World’s Most Economical Taxi. Wind Power is in an open space for photographs where many people will stop. The World’s Most Economic Taxi is in less photogenic condition with fading colours, chipping paint and a damaged wall. Not a very photogenic view and not a very good representation of the city’s cultural scene. Although people still love to share photos of their newest findings and they accept the conditions of the murals.

The World’s Most Economical Taxi. Photograph: Dora Pongracz

A Tripadvisor user said: “It is truly amusing walking around the streets and discovering some new pieces of art. Some of them were ruined though :)”

Another user also pointed out that some are in better condition: “There are a selection of these street art murals around Glasgow City Centre, some are better than others, some are a bit run down with graffiti on them, but others are still in great condition.”

A commenter who rated them average said: “The ones we saw were very nice but they all seemed to be quite a bit worn and not really kept up very well. Several of them had little adds [sic] posted on the wall which definitely detracted from the mural. I was a little disappointed by that.”

When the reporter asked the council what is being done to keep the murals in good condition, she only received answers relating to her question on vandalism, specifically on the graffiti damage: “On occasion, GCC has used the services of the internal anti-graffiti resource operated by Community Safety Glasgow.”

The reporter’s questions on dirt and bins blocking the view of the murals were unanswered.

Glasgow Panda. Photograph: Dora Pongracz

The reporter also reached out to the artists behind the murals, however questions on the condition of the murals remained answered.

Glasgow welcomes roughly 800,000 visitors a year who bring around £2.3billion to the economy and there are around 100,000 people commuting through the city centre based on the information given by City Council.

Our cultural heritage must be protected if Glasgow is to continue to enjoy the vital boost that tourism provides to our economy.

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