Before the chin-wag part, the Royal Glasgow Institute for the Fine Arts (RGI) hosted a reception in the gallery space downstairs, currently occupied by Patricia Cain's Drawing (on) Riverside exhibition.
I thought Karin Spalter's speech to the assembled masses was spot on, especially the part about George Wyllie and the part he played in the late 1980s/early 1990s in highlighting the devastating loss of the industry which once hummed around the banks of the Clyde.
It's an irony that this new landmark building will be home to the city's vast transport-related archive.
I asked Karin to send me her speech and here is an edited version:
“The mother art is architecture” said Frank Lloyd Wright and during Glasgow’s reign as European City of Architecture, it was the vision of the Director of Glasgow 1999, Deyan Sudjic, “to rebuild the architectural culture that demands the best….. that, a century before, the city got”!
So it will be interesting to find out this evening just how far he thinks we have got in terms of his aspiration for Glasgow, with Zaha Hadid’s iconic building now in place.
One of our most distinguished RGIs - there are at any one time only 50 – is George Wyllie. The Iconocl-artist I call him. Lauded for his sculpture, installations and inspirations sprinkled around our city and beyond, he drew attention to the plight of the Clyde back in the late 1980s, with his straw locomotive suspended from the Finnieston Crane, and then, in 1990, his oh-so-vulnerable Paper Boat (that crossed an ocean.)
They put the spotlight on the Clyde, at a time when Glasgow effectively turned its back on the river that played such a dynamic role in its history.
The good news for Glasgow is that life is now being established again both on the river and at its riverbanks.
Tonight we are honouring the contribution of the extra-ordinary and internationally-respected Zaha Hadid and her new landmark on Clydeside.
The new building will doubtless earn its keep in the affection and cultural life of our citizens and visitors – you surely cannot be a true Glaswegian without the ‘rite of passage’ of a visit to the Transport Museum!
Throughout its 150 years the RGI has also made a landmark contribution to the city’s cultural life. We celebrate not just our 150th anniversary this year, but our 150th Annual Exhibition – the biggest, open exhibition in Scotland. It’s an unbroken tradition that has embraced artists of world class and renown throughout its history. The Glasgow Boys, the Colourists, and many artists before and since whose works hang above us in our cherished Kelvingrove - and now we have Patricia Cain, a member of the current RGI Council.
Her quite sensational exhibition here - ‘Drawing (on) Riverside’- celebrates our toast this evening –
Ladies and Gentlemen – the Riverside Museum.