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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 janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Seeing Through Maryhill

Pure dead cultured ... Maryhill-ites Douglas Gordon and Susan Philipsz feature in Alec Galloway's Culture window

This is an unedited version of a piece I wrote for The Herald's Arts section on 10/12/11

The rebirth of Maryhill Burgh Hall is an inspiring project. What an incredible resource for the people of Maryhill, Glasgow.

Alec Galloway's windows, which will face up to Stephen Adam's original windows (created for the hall in the Victorian era) will be hoisted into place soon.

Alec Galloway's window on the subject of education features a group of local lads

Windows of Today
Maryhill Burgh Hall
10-24 Gairbraid Avenue, Maryhill
0845 860 1878
Preview today from 2pm-4pm
For the last few weeks, a boy from St Charles Primary School in Maryhill has been chapping on the door of the as-yet unopened Maryhill Burgh Hall in Glasgow, asking to see ‘his window’.
According to Gordon Barr, heritage development officer for the Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust, and one of the driving forces behind a £9.6m restoration of the 133-year-old community building, the lad has his whole family, including his granny, lined up to come to a preview event at the building today (Saturday 10th).
“He can’t wait to get in and is telling everyone his picture is on the new windows,” laughs Barr.
The preview, which took place last Saturday, allowed the local community and other interested parties, the chance to see ten new stained glass panels by leading Scottish glass artist, Alec Galloway. The windows have been specially created for the building, which had lain derelict for almost a decade before work began on its restoration in 2009.
Galloway’s Windows of Today panels will be hoisted into place in the main hall of the building next week to be joined in a few weeks time by the 20 original stained glass windows made for the hall by renowned Victorian glass artist, Stephen Adam.
It’s the icing on the cake everyone who has worked to make this project happen and is a prelude to the building being back in business as a community hub, complete with public hall, cafe, office space, meeting rooms, a commercial and community recording studio, a nursery and courtyard garden. The halls are due to be back in business and fully operational again in the new year.
For the last year, inspired by a series of workshop sessions with local residents, Galloway has been working on the panels to reflect life in Maryhill in the early days of the 21st century.
He explains: “The key to the project has been the close community involvement and the fact that so much has come directly from the people and imagery of Maryhill itself. The wee boy who has been chapping at the door of the hall was in a class at St Charles Primary School down the road. I went there to take photographs for the panel which focuses on education, which is a nod to Adam’s window, The Teacher.
Edinburgh-born Adam was responsible for some of the finest stained glass produced in Scotland in the late nineteenth century, with prime examples of his work in buildings such as Glasgow’s Clydeport building and Paisley Abbey. 
The Victorian artist’s original windows, described by Barr as ‘the crown jewels of Maryhill’, paint a vivid picture of a hard-working municipal burgh on the outskirts of Glasgow, which at the time proudly managed its own affairs.
Adam’s glass panels reveal, in a distinctly modernist way, the huge variety trades, industries and occupations going on in Maryhill. They were removed from the building for safe keeping in the 1960s, and placed in storage in the collections of Glasgow Museums, and have rarely been seen by the public since.
When the Adam windows return to Maryhill after more than 40 years, they will be hoisted into position on a wall facing Galloway’s Windows of Today.
“For me it’s an honour to have my windows facing Stephen Adam’s,’ says Galloway. “I have know these windows since I was a student when I’d go and see them in the museum. 
I wanted to create something different from the original windows, but that would sit alongside them and not be overshadowed.
“They are defined by the screenprinting technique, something I’d really only done on a few pieces before.” 
Galloway’s depiction in glass of modern Maryhill, is as touchingly beautiful as it is vibrant. 
Music is a recurring theme in all his work and reflects his own passion for it as a listener and a practioner. For this series, Galloway has incorporated the lyrics of a song called Voices by his friend, the Maryhill-born musician, Kevin McDermott, as a running theme throughout all ten panels.
I hadn’t realised Kevin wrote Voices about growing up in Maryhill,” he explains. “When I sent him over images of the panels, he sent me a text saying he was blubbing and texting at the same.”
In the week that saw Glasgow scoring a hat-trick of winners in the Turner Prize, one panels shows Maryhill-born Prize winner, Douglas Gordon, with his distinctive ‘Maryhill’ necklace-style tattoo. In this panel, there is also calligraphy of the lament, Lowlands Away, which won another Maryhill-ite, Susan Phillpsz, the prize last year.
Other subjects include the owner of Jaconelli’s Cafe on Maryhill Road and a locally-based space-craft maker called Clyde Space. This hi-tech firm features alongside another innovation, the first ever 2D barcode on glass.
Take out your smartphone, point it at the code and hey presto, you will be guided to 
www.maryhillburghhalls.org.uk for more information about the building and the beautiful glass which is part of the fabric of the building again.
I have a feeling that Stephen Adam, always ahead of the game in terms of innovation, would have approved...

The technology window - point your smartphone at the bar code and see what happens

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