Saturday, 2 January 2016

Metropolis.Glasgow and Paisley. City Living. Urban Images.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
As a keen amateur photographer towns and cities provide a wealth of good locations for photographic subject matter. This is a bridge across the river with some deliberate slight camera movements to create an arty effect of the Christmas lights in Paisley.
One of a hungry lone swan patrolling the White Cart Water in cold December. Paisley at Christmas.
The Clutha Wall Mural. Left to right faces who have frequented this famous Glasgow pub and live music venue in the past. No problems recognizing Spike Milligan, Billy Connolly,Gerry Rafferty, Alex Harvey, Frank Zappa, Jimmy Reid, John Martyn, (had to look up a young Glenda Jackson and Rupert Everett )but also recognized David Hayman ( The Citizens Theatre is not far away in the Gorbals district, hence the actor visits.
There is a good one of silent film star Stan Laurel who grew up in Glasgow and performed around the corner in music halls before finding fame in America, and Glasgow boxer Benny Lynch, World flyweight champion in the 1930s, but as it was just after the reopening of part of the pub ( A police helicopter crashed through the roof with 10 folk killed inside and many more injured in Nov 2013) as I passed it on my bike and too many folk were sitting outside at tables to capture that front side of the mural properly.
With most towns and inner cities these days struggling to compete with out of town shopping centers and retail parks for footfall, Glasgow in recent years has seen a rise in City Centre murals, presumably to try to attract more folk into the centre. I must admit I never visit the centre of Glasgow these days for shopping purposes and haven't done for over 20/30 years now. For a start it costs money to visit by public transport or by car and my local shopping mall has everything nearby I need under one roof as I don't spend much cash except on petrol and food. Can't see that situation changing UK wide anytime soon as traditional high streets get left behind but I might be tempted in for the mural walk. Good link above of the mural walk and murals list.
I like the idea of living in a large city though... most of the time. One thing about cities and towns I like is that they are constantly changing and reinventing keep pace with our increasingly frantic lifestyles presumably. If you leave for 10 years you notice a big difference. Even if you stay in one city or large town all your life you are still surprised by new buildings and entire districts transforming... almost overnight it seems. Part of Glasgow City seen from the surrounding woodlands.
In the last year just passed, I realized large parts of Glasgow had altered or were altering considerably, yet again, so it was a good excuse to do half a dozen bike rides in the glorious autumn months of fine weather to reacquaint myself with my ever shifting metropolis. I gave up knowing London intimately a long time ago. Too vast in size and too far away to keep track of district by district, let alone street by street but the Greater Glasgow area is manageable to keep track of every couple of years at under 2 million people.( a population including the surrounding towns like Paisley, Clydebank, Motherwell, Hamilton etc)
                                                         The Great Wall. Glasgow.2015.
So in fine weather I headed off with a strong sense of purpose which is all you really need in life to feel happy and fulfilled. I've found people in general tend to be obsessive and that they like collecting things. Money, Possessions, Games, Mountains, Fashion, Stamps, Cars... the list is endless. Although I don't consider I have a strong addictive streak in me, addictions have been my greatest pleasure and reward. Some are harmless, others less so...I used to collect bird's eggs in the 1960s, then interesting people, munros, bothies, islands, books, films....
Addictions or fashions can sweep the world and take many shapes and forms. Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect and town planner who had a vision of the future as hi rise cities in the sky. Many towns and cities worldwide copied this dream with their own models and Glasgow was not alone in building dozens of high rise tower blocks in the 1960s. Many of these Leviathans of the modern age are now being dismantled as tastes change and families are no longer prepared to live in them. Fine for couples or single folk... not so good for humans bringing up young children with hi- rise corridors often their main playground for many years.
A 22 floor block is slowly demolished floor by floor. It used to be abandoned castles that littered the landscape as tastes and society moved on without them.
Almost looks like a 20th century castle in this shot framed by trees.
Years ago almost every council estate in Glasgow and elsewhere looked like this. In the 1970s and 1980s you could tell how rough a scheme was just by its graffiti levels alone and where it was placed on buildings.
Growing up in one of the "Big Four" I almost viewed this wall as a long lost friend seeing it. A nostalgic part of my childhood  as much as anything else as graffiti was a common sight everywhere in my daily life back then. With the growth of the internet this form of "selfie" or visual self expression during teenage years is almost a relic as well in modern Glasgow.You rarely see it these days. I'm sure more than a few street artists started out with unsolicited work on gable ends and walls where they grew up, if only to practice their talent and gain recognition.

Toryglen is an area of the city I don't have any reason to visit normally but I had heard it was also undergoing changes so headed the bike in that direction.
The Prospecthill Circus flats are all that remain of this once people busy area situated in the south central district of the city. The rest is a wasteland of cleared ground where tenements and deck access type flats used to stand until recently. As with other areas I've observed, private housing has moved in and built new low level homes but with a fraction of the housing stock and accommodation that used to stand here.
Not for the first time did I find myself thinking... where do all the people go? They can't all be committing suicide or ending up in heaven wandering around stoned at the gates via legal highs so where do the rest end up? Do they go abroad? All over Glasgow formally large council estates containing thousands of people have been cleared then replaced with housing association low level new build, either for sale or rent. But only for a select few it seems.
It may be just the way modern house designs have improved social housing visually but it also appears as if some subtle form of "social cleansing" is going on here as well.
During my numerous bike rides across the city in 2015 I passed area after area of formally unemployed / lower working class districts that have been transformed into almost posh areas. I may be completely wrong here but that was my surface impression anyway cycling around. Districts where packed thousands once lived replaced by a few hundred, admittedly nice, well spaced out homes.
New housing stock in Dalmarnock. Formally an area of small works, industrial estates and a maze of streets made up of distinctive red sandstone tenements. Maybe these are just the 2015 version of tenements but they appeared fairly posh to me and not really on the menu for ordinary Glasgow citizens unless they are making good money somewhere.
This is part of the Commonwealth Games village, now available for sale and rent.
As far as I am aware Glasgow has not built a single large new council estate since the 1970s. Many formally densely packed areas are spacious feeling and open plan for the first time in 100 years. The remaining large council estates have halved in size as has the city population itself. Where do they all go? The shrinking city!
Maybe that's why we now have one massive hospital to replace four old ones. The cheekily named "Death Star" has a helicopter pad on the roof  and is the biggest hospital complex in Scotland but you can see immediately why it is a fitting nickname when you walk under its towering walls. A colossus in every way and very easy for even a storm-trooper to get lost in with state of the art automatic lifts and corridors cleaned by robotic sweepers. Nothing to do with the medical care inside, just a playful nod to the size of it being out of this world.

So where are we heading in the future? My attention was drawn to this short You Tube video discovered by my old pal Alistair and it would be funny if it wasn't so painfully truthful.


Andy said...

Discovered your excellent blog via a Google search when I was looking for info on Lochcote Reservoir in West Lothian - my search threw up your Monday 30 December 2013
entry (Bathgate Hills. Linlithgow. The Kelpies. Grangemouth. Cockleroy. Cairnpapple hill).

Out of curiosity, I wondered if you are able to say where the great photo at the top of your blog homepage was taken (figure looking out over a coastal scene) - a great photo.



Carol said...

I'd say most people who can move out of the cities as soon as they can to the suburbs - and then even further out if they can afford it. I know some like living in the city but I think most don't? I wouldn't ever live in one as I find them depressing - Richard is the opposite and doesn't understand how I can live in the 'inconvenient' country!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
It's the Singing Sands beach on Eigg looking across at the Rum Cuillin. I've been there a few times over the decades and it's a great spot in fine conditions. Features in "The Best of Blue Sky Scotland: Adventures off the Beaten Track" and also has a chapter in "Autohighgraphy Both books on kindle bookstore.
Type in Blue Sky Scotland. Eigg into google and you should find that post from June 2010 when we visited it. That's worth a read.
Best wishes Bob Law.

blueskyscotland said...

Evening Carol,
That's very true for the ones who can afford to buy a house and what is undoubtedly happening but the areas mentioned here are traditionally poor and living in the country without a car and a decent income is probably worse than city living. The actual City of Glasgow definitely appears to be shrinking in population while Edinburgh increases at around 100 people at week. When they knock down hundreds of council houses, admittedly half empty, and replace them with a lesser amount of new build properties, many for sale with only a certain number for rent I just wonder where the rest of the folk go.
I like living in a city most of the time although I live on the outskirts but I love the energy, the architecture, and the constant reinvention of cities. Exploring Glasgow or any other city or town by bike or foot always gives me as big a lift as the best mountain days.
At the moment, maybe because of city and town planning mistakes in the past, the current policy in the UK seems to be for private developers and housing associations to build houses but in Glasgow at least they always seem to be in smaller numbers than the stock they replace and most are for sale as they obviously have to make a profit out of it.
In London, although there is a desperate need for affordable housing,many of the less affluent population there are moving away to other cities outside of the pricey south of England as they realize they will never be able to buy a house there while at the opposite end of the spectrum thousands of rich investors sit with multiple empty London properties which they have no intention of ever occupying as they are purchased as a can't loose resale investment in 5 to 10 years time.
I may be wrong but I just had the impression cycling around that the new houses being built were not really there for the ordinary folk of the districts they were being built in. £169,000 for a basic 3 bedroom new build is a lot to commit to unless you have a reliable good wage or wages coming in and job security. And that's just for a new house in one of the big city council estates, not anything fancy. I could never afford one, not at at any point in my working life, as it would take me into a coffin long before I paid it off.

Carol said...

Fully agree with you that, since the developers took over, housing is no longer affordable. If they build any affordable housing, they only include a few in a development - the rest are well out of normal folks' range. I think it's time the government and councils got a grip of developers and made them build much more cheaper housing. All our development locally has been what I call 'yuppie housing' - massive detached 4 and 5 bedroom homes that no-one can afford. Unfortunately, all our affordable housing stock has been destroyed by the folk living in it extending them until they're semi-detached mansions and, therefore, unaffordable. I keep telling the council that's why we don't have affordable housing and that they need to stop granting the huge extensions but they won't listen.

auntiegwen said...

Gorgeous photies, although I haven't lived there for over 30 years, Glasgow will always be home to me. Happy new year Alex x

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Auntiegwen,
It's actually Bob for the last couple of years. Alex is too intelligent to waste his time writing posts every week and gave it up although he still goes out.Sometimes I feel that way too as it's a thankless task at times along with writing books that very few read.
Glasgow has changed a lot in 30 years but the West End is much the same.