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Glasgow Buchanan Street Art Trail

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Buchanan Street Bus Station
This bronze statue was made by John Clinch and got its name from Susan Ritchie. It is a very detailed and realistic study of two people embracing. The sculpture is strongly related to its location - in the foyer of a busy bus station, where people often show their affection after long journeys. A station is a place where people are brought together, and this statue demonstrates this very clearly. This statue is quite different from other types of statue. These people are quite ordinary and don't mind expressing their feelings.
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Ian Hamilton Finlay Sculpture
"All Greatness Stands Firm In The Storm"
By Iain Hamilton Finlay. Beside Glasgow Bridge.

Iain Hamilton Finlay is an important Scottish artist who makes all sorts of artworks from books and screenprints to giant public sculptures. This piece is carved into the granite of these huge bridge supports, called piers. They are the remains of a railway bridge built in 1878. In 1967 the girders and tracks were lifted off. Iain Hamilton Finlay designed these texts to be inscribed onto the piers by a stone-mason. Granite is an extremely hard stone and is much harder to carve than sandstone, but it is far more durable. The texts are written in both English and Greek, which relates to the Classical origins of the architectural column. But the text also relates to Glasgow's recent history. Even though Glasgow now has little industry, for example, it still continues to prosper through hard times. This artwork was part of the TSWA Four Cities Project in 1990.
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Advertising Column, Buchanan Bus Station
Advertising Column, Buchanan Bus Station

This stunning piece of street furniture has two main functions. Primarily it is a carrier for advertising posters, which are illuminated from behind by bright fluorescent lights. But it has seating around the base, which offers passers-by a place to rest. It also acts as a landmark where people can arrange to meet each other.
This modern item of street furniture was designed by Norman Foster Partners and first appeared on the streets of Glasgow in 1997.
Similar structures can be seen on the streets of Paris. The Parisian version was designed at the turn of the century and was very ornate, but they are still in use today.

Here you can see the same advert tower beside the Armadillo building at Finnieston Quay. It is very much at home around this sleek, hi-tech building. Although
it is practical, it also looks stylish and contemporary.
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Glasgow Coat of Arms
The Glasgow Coat Of Arms represents the City and also tells the story of the City's origins. You can see the arms in dozens of places around Glasgow - on buildings, Council letterheads, posters and signs. The familiar symbols of "The bird that never flew, the tree that never grew, the bell that never rang, and the fish that never swam" relate to the story of St Mungo, Glasgow's patron saint. St Mungo can be seen at the top of the coat of arms. This emblem of Glasgow can be seen at the front entrance to Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
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Street Redevelopment
Buchanan Street Re-Development
Buchanan Street is Glasgow's main shopping street. During 1999 it was transformed, showing the city's belief in quality urban design. Redesigned paving, lighting and street furniture together with modern designs combine with quality traditional materials, such as these granite cobbles, to make the street more attractive and durable.
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The Atheneum
The Atheneum, Buchanan Street
The Atheneum was built in 1886 to a design by J.J. Burnet (1857-1938). It was originally two buildings which are now joined together between Nelson Mandela Place and Buchanan Street. The Atheneum is currently a theatre, but was previously the Royal Scottish Academy Of Music & Drama. The statues shown here are all by John Mossman (1817-1890). The four single figures are the sculptor John Flaxman (1755-1826), the architect Sir Christopher Wren, the composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695), and the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), all famous innovators of the British arts. The figure groups represent teachers with their pupils.
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Procurator's House
Procurator's House, Nelson Mandela Place

The Royal Faculty Of Procurators' Hall was designed by Charles Wilson and finished in 1856. It is a place for Glasgow's legal fraternity to meet, study and work. Over the windows of this fine building, there are many portrait sculptures of lawyers and judges. They form the wedge-shaped stones which hold together the arched windows, called keystones. The sandstone sculptures were all made by Alexander Handyside Ritchie (1804-1870).
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Old Stock Exchange
Old Stock Exchange, Nelson Mandela Place

This very ornate building was designed by the prolific Glasgow architect John Burnet (1814-1901). As well as the detailed decorative stone-carvings there are also several roundels with carved figures representing Science, Art, (both shown here) Building, Mining and Engineering. You can see that the figures have been covered with netting to stop birds landing on them.
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Topographical Map, Buchanan Street
Topographical Map, Buchanan Street
Topographical maps might also be called relief maps. This one by Kathleen Chambers is cast in bronze. It has a channel marking the river which fills with water when it rains, so it looks like a real river. The street names are marked in letters and in Braille, so that a blind or visually impaired person can find out where they are. Some landmarks, such as the City Chambers, are shown in miniature to help if you are lost. If you stand and look over the map, you can almost imagine that you are hovering above the city itself.
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Police Box, Buchanan Street
Police Box, Buchanan Street
This piece of street furniture will be familiar if you are a fan of Doctor Who - it is exactly the same as the Doctor's Tardis. But it is not really
a time machine. Once, boxes like this were common all over cities in Britain. They were used by Police Officers to stay in touch with their base using the telephone fitted inside. When mobile radios were introduced, the boxes were not needed any longer and were mostly taken away.
Artist Anne Shaw used the box to display her artworks during 1996. The box is a reminder of the way the city looked in past decades.
It is now used by a coffee vendor!
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Royal Bank Of Scotland,
Royal Bank Of Scotland, Gordon Street

This historic bank was designed by David Rhind (1801-1883) and completed in 1857.
Its finest feature is the quality of the stone-carving, by Alexander Handyside Ritchie (1804-1870). This square panel (around three feet across) shows small children using printing presses to print money. The keystone heads above the windows are of powerful men with stern expressions, as though they were guarding the building. These carvings are almost untouched by erosion or damage - they almost look brand new.

Ritchie also made the statue of Scott, and the sculptures on Procurator's House.
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62 Buchanan Street
62 Buchanan Street
This tall, thin building was originally the home of the North British Rubber company - the rubber trade used to be a very large industry. The building was designed by Robert Thomson & Andrew Wilson and completed in 1898. The rich carvings and statues, and the fact that this building is in one of Glasgow's most important streets, show you just how prosperous the rubber trade once was.
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Shopfront Design, Buchanan Street
Shopfront Design, Buchanan Street
You will see a shopfront on almost every Glasgow street. As you walk along, your eye is drawn to colourful posters, powerful graphics and bright lights. The dummies in the windows are carefully arranged to display clothes in the most attractive way, and desirable products are placed to tempt customers into the shop. You can see fashionable designer names everywhere you look. Shopping is big business, and in Buchanan Street, Glasgow's main shopping street, you can see how important it has become. This fine building used to be the offices of the Daily Record - now it houses a designer clothing store.

These powerful displays do not just happen by themselves. Window-dressers go to a lot of trouble to get the look just right, and find lots of new ways to catch your attention. This shop has used roses growing out of test tubes to draw attention to models wearing the latest clothes designs. The windows have been made as large as possible to allow the biggest and most eye-catching displays.

Can you imagine what the street would look like without any window displays ? It would certainly be a lot less colourful. There would be very little to look at on street level, perhaps just empty windows or plain walls. Things would be very different at night, too. Many shops have bright lights in their windows at night. It feels quite different walking down a street with only lamp-posts for illumination. Bright shops can give a sense of warmth and safety, and make the streets look more lively and welcoming. Imagine how different this shop would look if it had big metal shutters down and no lights on. The street would be a much less attractive place to walk .

Shops make their shopfronts as attractive as possible to draw in customers. This costs a lot of money and has a big effect on sales. But shopfronts also transform the street. Next time you go shopping, look carefully at the shopfronts. Notice the materials they are made of, the colours, and how they affect the feel of the street.
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Warner Bros. Studio Store
Warner Bros. Studio Store, Buchanan Street

The canopy over the Warner Bros. shop features sculptures of two very famous cartoon characters - Wile E. Coyote and Taz, the Tasmanian Devil. They are dressed as Scots bagpipers, wearing kilts and bearskin hats. They draw attention to the shop and promote some of the products which it sells.
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Princes Square
Princes Square is a modern shopping centre. It was renovated by Hugh Martin & Partners and was opened in 1988 by the Prince Of Wales. Since then it has become a symbol of Glasgow's economic rebirth. It is a good example of facade retention, which keeps the front of an old building but creates a new building behind it. Many buildings in Glasgow have been preserved in this way.

Princes Square used to be a huge wooden hotel, built in the late 18th century and surrounded by cobbled lanes. The site also had many other uses: it was a great clothing store, and was used for the textiles and jewellery industries, the civil service, the passport office and as a medical centre. In 1988, new levels were added within the shell of the old building, and a huge well was left in the centre of the space. The facade was left standing except for a few additions. The entrances have elaborate Art Nouveau canopies made in wrought iron and coloured glass.

On top of the facade is a sculpture of a peacock made in coloured wrought iron and steel. A huge glass roof admits daylight and allows a view of the night sky. In 1997, a new canopy was added over the entrances, which softened the front of the building and cast a green and blue glow over the pavement. It is made of elegant curved steelwork and delicate coloured glass. The canopy makes a gentle sweeping curve and changes the light around the doorways to make it more welcoming.

The centre has become very popular as a place to eat, drink and shop. The work of well-known designers can be seen, such as Katharine Hamnett and Nicole Farhi, or local jeweller and ceramicist Nancy Smillie. Another good example of a facade retention is in Ingram Street, where the facade of the building is stands alone supported by a huge scaffold.
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Concept of Kentigern
Concept Of Kentigern by Neil Livingstone. Buchanan Street Precinct.
This sculpture was placed in Buchanan Street Precinct in 1977. It is cast in bronze and sits on a blond sandstone base, outside the House Of Fraser department store and just down from Princes Square shopping centre. Kentigern is another name for St. Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, who is reputed to have performed the miracle of bringing a dead bird back to life. This bird is well known to all Glaswegians. The following rhyme refers to the symbols which make up Glasgow's coat-of-arms.

The fish that never swam, the tree that never grew,
The bell that never rang, the bird that never flew.

This sculpture is a very abstract representation of this legend. While it does not portray the actual event which it relates to, a saint in the act of reviving a dead bird, it is nevertheless a recognisable form of a bird. During the redevelopment of Buchanan Street in 1999 it was removed and has not been replaced.
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Burton Building, Buchanan Street
Burton Building, Buchanan Street

This large Art Deco building was built for the Burton chain of stores in 1938 by the architects Pierce & Martin. It is faced with "Empire" artificial stone work, which would have been cast at a factory and fixed to the framework of the building later. You can also see blue panels of cast iron which show detailed decorative motifs. In the middle of the 20th century chain stores like Burtons or the Co-Operative Society built shops in towns all over Britain. While they wanted the shops to be attractive to customers, they did not want to spend huge amounts of money. Therefore, using artificial stone and cast iron was chosen as it was cheaper than traditional materials like sandstone or granite.
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Chthonic Columns, St. Enoch Underground.
Chthonic Columns, St. Enoch Underground.
The word "Chthonic" means "something which lives underground" and is usually applied to a deity or god. But in this sculpture by Mark Firth, the word relates to two stainless steel columns, placed between the ceiling and floor of the underground station. One of the columns appears to have been cut off near the base, and what lies inside - like the rings of a tree - are engraved markings relating to the history of the Underground system. On the top of the column is a cool blue light which illuminates the engraved panel. This 1997 sculpture was made to commemorate the 100th Birthday of the Underground in Glasgow. The sculpture was commissioned by Art In Partnership and Strathclyde Passenger Transport. The original Underground was opened in 1896 and modernised in 1980.

These lines are finely etched into the steel, and show numbers and lines like a architect's plan.

They tell you facts about the history of the Underground system.
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Spanish Civil War Memorial, Clyde Street.
From 1936 onwards, nearly 60,000 British, French, Belgian and Czech citizens, as well as rebel Germans and Italians, joined the International Brigade. This was a force of fighters from who wished to stop the spread of Fascism, even at the risk of their lives. Among the British citizens who fought in Spain were a number of Scottish volunteers, who are remembered here for their bravery. The memorial shows a woman defiantly raising her arms and calling out. The shape of her body is like an "X", which is reminiscent of the Scottish flag of St Andrew. She is a very stark and powerful figure. Such an emotional statue does not need lots of close detail to the face or the clothing. The artist who made this fibreglass figure, Arthur Dooley, wanted to communicate strong emotions rather than details about who the person is or what she wore. Below the figure is an inscription cast into the plinth: "It is better to die on your feet than to live forever on your knees". This shows just how dedicated the fighters were to the struggle for freedom. The memorial was erected in 1979.
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This trail, part of Public Art Trails Online, is based on the original ideas and CDROM 'Scanning the City' by Glen Coutts, Paul Dougall and Mark Dawes (1999). Images by Brian Lochrin, Mark Dawes and Glen Coutts words by Mark Dawes.