Urban Museums and Plays in Pubs


Image: Aike Jansen

What used to be a city of industry, shipbuilding and trade has grown into a unbelievably inspirational and exhilarating place. Glasgow as a whole deserves to be described as inspiring, however, as difficult a choice as it proved, a few places really stick out.

Particularly in terms of performance arts, Glasgow is an extraordinarily rich city, Throughout my time living here, the Tron Theatre’s programme definitely presented the perfect balance between more traditional productions and performances that were experimental. With the possibility to pick and choose between great plays like Ghosts and Earthquakes in London, a hilarious annual Christmas panto on the main stage and smaller pieces in intimate studio spaces, you’ll never be disappointed. The Tron devotes itself to modernity and variety on the Glaswegian stage, and like the city, this theatre inevitably grows on you.

Next, one of the West End’s architectural crowning jewels, Kelvingrove Art Gallery draws the eye naturally, no matter what way you approach it from. Not only do cheeky pictures of the outside look fantastic on your Instagram, their remarkable collection will have you happily wandering for hours. Spacious rooms with an impressive range of art play host to students frantically sketching in corners, families enjoying a pleasant afternoon or eccentric art lovers spending an hour in front of that amazing Dali painting in the little dark room at the top of the stairs. Free daily organ recitals fill the building with music, permeating the visual art and giving the museum its unique signature.

When it comes to the Botanic Gardens, no need to be a plant expert to completely fall in love. On a sunny day, just lying down on the grass and letting your gaze wander up is at once relaxing and elating. The skies change endlessly as various tree branches hover in the wind, creating hypnotising patterns. The Botanics are the perfect summer location, whether you’re reading, sketching, having a picnic or just walking by. Fortunately, since summer’s just past, it also inspires true wonder under a layer of snow. There’s nothing like a chilly winter morning; the orange rays of the still-rising sun separating and reverberating on the immaculate snow, making the trees and your footprints glisten. There will certainly be a cloud of condensation in the air, as your mouth opens in pure wonder.

While on the subject of the Botanics, it would be a shame not to mention Òran Mór, whose blue halo acts as the lighthouse of the West End, guiding and reassuring drunk Freshers that they’re on the right track. Offering a Play, a Pie and a Pint matinees, many a drink and other events besides, this converted church is an extremely cosy and friendly pub, where you will end up chatting to an elderly actor for an hour as you queue for a panto, sharing your life stories and exchanging emails by the end.

Similarly, Nice N Sleazy on Sauchiehall Street doesn’t just offer great drinks and food. It might be the colourful light emanating from really cool lamp shades, warming the semi-darkness, or the intimate conversations happening in the corner booths. Whatever it is, as soon as you sit down with your pint, this bar envelops you. The walls tell stories. I’ve had countless evenings when, as conversations drifted away from me, I spent time reading the scribblings next to me and scrutinising drawings across the table. The best part of the night will happen when you’re done adding drunken doodles and deep messages to the wallpaper and the faint tones of music guide you downstairs. Sleazy’s remains host to fantastic open mics and great gigs. You’ll be craving to come back.

Finally, as busy people, with our fast pace and headphones screwed to our ears, we don’t often stop to pay attention to the street art we walk by every morning. Especially walls and street corners on the riverside of the City Centre deserve to be acknowledged. On a sunny day, the only thing visible on Argyle Street will be the crowd rushing in and out of Primark or H&M, but as night slowly falls and you no longer have to play sardines, impressive murals reveal themselves, all the way down to Trongate. South of St Enoch, small winding streets play host to more fantastic art and graffiti. Brilliantly colourful birds and faces stare at passers-by, creating an outdoor urban museum. It goes beyond the City Centre too – pay close attention to walls around Glasgow, you’ll quickly come across tasteful inscriptions like the one in Partick, “Boris Johnson is still a pure fanny” and many other wee gems.

These hidden treasures are precisely what make Glasgow; the fun of living here lies in experimenting, trying, failing, and eventually finding your own inspiring places.

[Isabelle Ribe]

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