Glasgow Murals Adding Some Colour to the City
In the early morning breeze a man sits in a cafe in Merchant City. He looks through his coffee steam and beyond the tree leaves he can see a colourful wall covered with a graffiti mural that drives an immediate impression to his heart.
That was my feeling when visiting Glasgow in Winter 2016. I remembered while looking at Smug’s wildlife mural at the time when Thomas Merton said: “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” When visiting Glasgow, you can determine that the city appreciates art with its museums, galleries, schools and street murals.
The wildlife mural was one of a diverse range of art sets that Glasgow City Council displayed in a popular walking area. The Mural Trail showcases a total of 22 murals and it was aimed to encourage and showcase Scottish artists.
John Foster, Project Support Officer in Glasgow City Council, said: “Glasgow City Centre has suffered from graffiti and tagging at prominent locations. As research has shown, this can have a direct and detrimental impact upon the look and feel of the city and how it is experienced. This affects not only the perceptions of local residents, stakeholders and businesses, but also those of visitors, tourists and potential investors.
He added: “Murals were originally introduced into Glasgow City Centre as a means to help mediate against instances of graffiti and urban blight, whilst also helping to encourage artists working locally within Glasgow to produce quality street art. However, it was apparent that these installations were increasingly becoming focal points in their own right, presenting an opportunity to promote the city centre to a wider national and international audience.”
In an interview with The Scotsman, a spokesperson for Visit Scotland said: “The images inside are really crisp and colourful, so people are encouraged to take part in the walk, and go see the murals for themselves”
This project has scored 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor and according to SWNS, it has been named in top city sights along with Amsterdam’s canals and the Paris sunset. It seems that Glasgow City Council succeeded in promoting graffiti and attracting tourists to the city. In addition, it achieved in gaining graffiti artists to collaborate with this project.
Foster added: “We have been very lucky with the caliber of artists who have been involved with the Mural Trail and we would hope that they have enjoyed the experience, finding it an opportunity to enhance their reputations through the exposure that the initiative can provide. In all, around 15 artists have so far contributed to the project and it continues to attract others, not only from the local Glasgow area, but from all over the world.
The murals have been embraced by the local community nonetheless, generating local, national and international comment on how the city’s approach to street art is developing into a very unique selling point in its own right. This has also been reflected in the media coverage received.”
Yazeed Alkurayyif, a PhD. student at the University of Strathclyde, said: “Glasgow has an amazing murals and I can see a lot of them around the campus. The walking in the City Trail is relay worth it and I recommend it to those planned to come here.”
Foster added: “by encouraging people to visit the murals, we hope that footfall is driven to adjacent areas, thereby contributing to an uplift in local commercial activity, and encouraging economic growth and vitality. Consequently, a number of businesses, landlords and proprietors have been happy to become involved in the City Centre Mural Trail, allowing their properties to be used for installations. In this way, the project has benefited tremendously from the buy-in of the artistic and business communities, as without their involvement it would not have been as successful.
The City Centre Mural Fund allows artists to apply for up to 100% of funding of street art installation costs, thereby providing them an opportunity to bring their ideas to life and a platform for their talent to be showcased. These installations then add to the reputation of Glasgow’s arts community and contribute to the City’s image as a cultural centre.”