- The story so far
- I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org (All work © Jan Patience)
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Riverside Writing @ Kelvingrove
The above painting, Last Ferry, was completed by Annette Edgar after The River Runs Through It exhibition in Kelvingrove, Glasgow, started. I saw it recently in her studio and was thought it one of her finest works I've seen. It's a big painting and up close, it's so complex.
Sadly, it missed the boat for inclusion in the exhibition but it's for sale and if anyone is interested, please let me know and I can contact Annette.
The River Runs Through It
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
Argyle Street, Glasgow
0141 276 9599
Until Jan 30, 2011
One of the great joys of being involved in organising the River Runs Through It exhibition for me was reeling in a raft of superb writing from people directly or indirectly connected with the River Clyde. As the journalist and blogger Joan McAlpine pointed out to me, she hadn't realised just how much of a presence the Clyde had been throughout her life until she started writing about it.
If you haven't been yet, there are texts dotted around the gallery space by various well-known and not so well-known writers, which give a flavour of how this river has impinged on many lives.
I'll post a few now and keep adding over the festive period (which thanks to the snow seems to have started early...)
Joan's text follows on, but please note that it won't be on the walls of the gallery until next week due to a cheeky wee spelling error (Curry Sark for Cutty Sark) which meant we couldn't hang it at the start of the exhibition. The revised texts, including a version of the foreword which I wrote for the catalogue, will be on the walls by next week.
I WAS born in a tenement overlooking the Clyde on the Tail o the Bank. Apart from a couple of brief spells in London, I’ve always lived within a mile of this river. My first memory is being held up to a window and told to ‘look at the boats’.
As a teenager, I remember the gates of the yard opening and a sea of blue overalls roll down the street like a wave in slow motion. Then, there were the fog horns at Hogmanay - you could hear them up the hill. And the whistle to say the shift was over, which you could hear in the Partick flat in which I brought up my own kids.
My father, grand-father and great-grandfather all worked in Clyde shipyards and they all sailed here too - in small boats moored offshore and pulled up the beach in winter.
My dad’s vessel, the Arranmore, was a retired wooden lifeboat from a Clyde ferry, with the engine, propeller and cabin added over the years.
The men who worked on this river are remembered for their engineering skill, hard labour and solidarity. But we should also celebrate their imagination.
They could dream, a dream then fashion it into reality from the most basic materials. If you didn’t have something, you made it. It was a creative industry. Great works of art, thousands of them, would glide down the slipways of this river. The Riverside Museum is a fitting tribute to this spirit. It is a technical triumph – like the Lusitania, Cutty Sark, Comet and great Cunard Queens. Like them, it is also a triumph of the imagination.
Writer, editor and social media expert
BROUGHT UP on a reservation in the deep south of Glasgow, I saw the riverside rarely. Usually on a visit to granny in Gorbals.
It was a place of mystery. A phrase often on my father’s lips was that he didn’t come up the Clyde oan a watter biscuit. I was very sceptical about this. How could you sail up the Clyde on a Jacob’s Cream Cracker? Why would you sail up the Clyde on a Jacob’s Cream Cracker?
The river was also kind of scary. Crossing the Suspension Bridge and seeing, at low water, a body on the riverbed. Legs bent beneath the body on impact. A skeleton in a suit.
As a young journalist interviewing Ben Parsonage of the Glasgow Humane Society whose job was to pick bodies, some alive mostly dead, from the Clyde. What was the most unusual thing he had found underwater? A cart complete with corpse of carter. Horse still between the shafts..
The river is full of ghosts. Hamish Henderson’s anti-colonialism, anti-war song Freedom Come All Ye has a line about weans fae pitheid and clachan mourning the ships sailing doon the Broomielaw.
When the good ship Waverley started its cruises thirty or so years ago, the Clyde became for me less of a closed book. The stretch of the river in the city was more interesting than the picturesque bits down the coast.
The skeletons of closed down shipyards and empty docks. Now it’s all steel and glass offices in Glasgow’s Financial District. And riverside apartments. Still ghostly.
THE CLYDE, unlike the Thames, isn’t a nobly regarded river. The Thames is a gentleman, galloping through areas of poverty and plenty, impervious to postcode. The Clyde is a tramp, shuffling through the back end of the Gorbals, down past Plantation and Govan, looking for work. Only as it rummages toward Gourock and beyond does it allow itself to be reluctantly fumigated and to tip its cap to the detached sandstone villas lining its banks.
It’s an old fashioned river that doggedly resists pretension. The Clyde refuses to smile for the estate agents’ cameras as they attempt to flog the shed loads of expensive new duplex flats hastily thrown up during the boom years when we thought we were going to be chic and eat croissants on river balconies. The Clyde isn’t chic. You might live in a houseboat on the Thames or Seine but you wouldn’t in Partick or Linthouse for fear of being mugged and beaten to death with your own anchor.
As a kid, I lived in Govan. The Clyde was dark and hard and oily like the men who worked it. When I look at it now, it feels like a mirror, judging me.