So I originally booked this trip to Glasgow to check out the FIDEM (International Federation of Medal Artists) biennial congress exhibition. Held this year at the Hunterian Museum, I had two medals exhibited in it as part of the New Zealand Medal Group. Unfortunately I found out a couple of days beforehand that the exhibition had already finished and it turned out their website wasn’t up to date! That will teach me for trusting the interweb. All was not lost however as we had a great time in Glasgow.

I’m not sure what I expected from Glasgow, but I’d heard some mixed reviews. So it was great to find that she is a damn cool city. We found good eats and pubs, wicked architecture old and new, and lots of art, with heaps of artist run spaces and initiatives popping up everywhere. I think having free university education (for Scottish and EU citizens)  must help fuel the creativity we saw everywhere, less debt  ≡ less need to pay off said debt with shitty jobs ≡ more time to play right?  And the living seems pretty cheap to me (compared to London anyway).

We managed to fit a lot into two and half days there (including the obligatory Charles Rennie Mackintosh stuff). I won’t try to cover it all but here are some of the highlights.

Holography Unit, The Glue Factory
We visited an exhibition called the ‘Holography Unit’ at the Glue Factory. Formerly an industrial adhesive factory, the new occupiers have done little to ‘gallery-ise’ the space, which is great, I’m all into viewing art outside the sterile, dealer gallery type environment and it’s nice for buildings like this to be able to tell something of their own history. The exhibition itself was really enjoyable, I liked the way you had to move around the works for the holographs to do their thing – it must look quite comical to watch people looking at the work. I’d never really thought of holography as an art form before, what you found on the flipside (or other view) was sometimes funny, sometimes shocking and in a way it reminded me of medals.

The Glasgow School of Art
We managed to fit in a tour of the Glasgow School of Art . It was definitely great to actually walk through a building that I’d studied at design school, the use of light and the way the use of every single spacewas considered (i.e making hallways dark to encourage students to move quickly through), alongwith the concept of designing the building furniture and all – pretty fkn amazing. Luckily we did this tour at the beginning of our Glasgow trip though ‘cos by the end of the weekend I was all Mack’d out!

The Riverside Museum

This buidling by Zaha Hadid is pretty awesome and the contents is pretty rad too. The front is flat, echoing a cityscape silhoette, and weaves back, river pathway-like and the opposite end mirrors the front facade.

Worth checking out if you’re in the hood. Here’s some info about the building.

The Whisky Bond
The Glasgow Sculpture Studios occupy the lower three floors of this really large building, there’s a gallery, and other levels do or soon will have studios and office spaces available for rent. It’s a really handsome building and just so impressive that there is enough of a demand to justify this enterprise.

We visited a heap of other really good galleries all mostly within easy walking distance around the city centre and actually Glasgow as a whole is easily walkable, despite a few hills (reminded me of Auckland).

One thing that impressed me a hell of alot was the initiative ‘Own Art’ which a lot of the galleries we visited participated in.

It turns out the Scots run a great programme whereby anyone working (or with a partner whose working), over 18 with a UK bank account can buy a piece of art up to 2k and pay it off over 10 months interest free! How cool is that! That is truly a committment to helping make art ownership accessible for all – no deposits required either.

I’ve since heard that other parts of the UK are adopting this too.

There’s a bunch of other spaces and creative enterprise worth checking out, too many to cover here so if your heading to Glasgow these two sites will point you in the right direction: The Grid and The Skinny


I am a sculptor, hailing from West Auckland, New Zealand and now reside in London. My main sculptural mediums are ceramics and art medals.