Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Last chance to see Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross before first tour stint

Dali Christ of St John of the Cross

Dali Christ of St John of the Cross

It was a bit of a wake-up call when I saw an item about the painting earlier this week, alerting anyone interested that the iconic painting is heading to London soon, and won’t be back in Glasgow until next summer. The first alert had come back in May, but I didn’t move.

The painting will be one of the star attractions of Dalí/Duchamp, opening on 7 October at the Royal Academy of Arts.

The exhibition will then travel to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida from February to May 2018.

I had a look at the Dalí Museum – tickets there are $24.

(Think that as you enjoy free admission to Kelvingrove! We really do enjoy some benefits here – as a native Glaswegian, I just can’t comprehend not being able to visit museums as often as I wish.)

It will then go on loan to Auckland Castle in County Durham from autumn 2019 until spring 2020.

We will get a piece by Hentry Raeburn from the Royal Academy in return.

I have my own thoughts on the replacement we need while this painting is on loan.

It was nice to see that Kelvingrove was busy, and that the small room where the painting is displayed was also busy (as opposed to mobbed). A steady stream of viewers passed through, also watching a video showing near the door to the room, and displays relating to the history of the painting and its acquisition.

I was pleased to see that there were no restrictions on photography (other than the all-encompassing ‘No Flash’ request – ignored by some). One of the coups achieved by Honeyman (who purchased the painting for Glasgow) was to have the copyright included (often retained by the artist), and I have been to other museum where they have the equivalent of the ‘Heavy Squad’ on hand, enforcing a No Photography rule on works they own copyright for.

That’s bad, very bad, and I just don’t patronise them. They’re also in a land where you have to pay for museum admission.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , | Leave a comment

This is your street. Not your personal bin.

It looks as if Glasgow is having another go at its litter louts with a new campaign.

Wandering around various burbs, I’ve come across the following sign placed high on many lampposts:

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

Litter Campaign Sign Not Your Personal Bin

While I like the sentiment, I suspect the people who will really like it are the residents who are fed up with those who litter, while those who litter will just laugh at it, and pay absolutely no attention whatsoever.

While I was raised not to drop litter, and don’t – ever – anything goes in my pocket or a bag to be disposed of later, I see very few children who have been taught not to litter. And they become the adults that also have no care regarding litter.

It’s sad to walk along the street, especially with shops, and watch the behaviour of people as they leave shops.

Those leaving convenience stores, newsagents, and fish & chip shops are amongst the worst offenders.

Often unwrapping cigarette packets, the wrapping is discarded instantly without a second thought.

But the saddest sight is that of the kids, especially the smallest ones, as they come out with packets of sweets or similar treats, and these are already being opened and unwrapped as they leave the shop, and you can see they have NEVER been taught not to litter, as the wrappers are dropped as soon as they come off, without as much as moment’s thought about what they are doing. They don’t even know they are littering. Putting the wrappers in their pocket does not even occur to them.

And if the council, a community worker, or police officer DARES to pull anyone up, or issue a fine?

THEY are slated as the ‘Bad Guys’, unreasonable and oppressive, just out to make money and pick on people.

If they wanted to do that (make money), they’d be better to collect all the discarded McDonald’s packaging that fills our streets (buyers of this muck are amongst the worst, just opening their car doors after visiting a drive-through, and dropping the lot on the road), return it to source and charge them for each piece of branded litter they return.

I can dream.

July 23, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council, photography | , , , | 1 Comment

Another wrong assumption – this time, memorial benches

It’s funny just how often an assumption can be wrong.

I first saw these benches near the Miner’s Memorial in Cambuslang some time ago, and noticed them again under the slightly odd (for me at least) conditions of daylight. I’m usually not around here until it’s dark, so don’t usually get to see them properly, or get a decent pic. Flash doesn’t work well on gloss black painted surfaces, and the same holds true for trying to take a ‘low-light’ pic.

I quite like them, given that recall events not to be forgotten, but I was a little disappointed (in my assumption, not the benches) to find they are standard pattern items. I had wrongly assumed they were a one-off commission for use at this memorial, but having shared memorial pics with others, it seems that they can be found across the land.

As I say, assumptions can get you into trouble (unless made carefully).

Memorial Benches

Memorial Benches

There was one interesting point – although not obvious in the above pic (thanks to the reflected glare on the flat metal seat backs), the red-painted floral tributes are not always so painted, and others I have seen have had the benches finished all black, with no features picked out.


I passed on a better day, and managed a better pic – you can actually see a hint of colour (and, in the first pic above, see how my poor camera no longer shows ‘sharp’ detail in the right half of a wide-angle shot):

Memorial Bench

Memorial Bench (Revisited)

I have to take pics like this with full zoom to have the whole frame in focus. If you think the first pic above looks out of focus down the right-hand side, it’s NOT your eyes (or my carelessness), it really is out of focus after a recent mishap trashed the linearity of this camera’s focussing system at wide settings.

I had to stand back in Carmyle to take the second one!

(Just kidding – I only had to stand in the road and hope nobody wanted to run ‘The idiot with the camera’ over.)

July 20, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

The replacement we need for Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross

It’s already well known that Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross is set to leave Kelvingrove and begin a series of world tours from September 2017 will see the painting go on loan to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, returning in summer 2018: Salvador Dali painting to leave Glasgow on loan

I don’t think I saw any mention of what will take its place, but I’m guessing a copy will take its place, to mitigate some of the disappointment visitors may suffer.


Given that Dali was the creator of the original, perhaps this find from the interwebs might suggest a possible alternative, which would also pay tribute, or ‘cat tax’ to our feline overlords:

Dali Melting Cat

Dali Melting Cat

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Flamingo Land land in Balloch?

I was intrigued to see the apparently hostile response to proposals for proposals (yes, I did MEAN to say that) for a theme park and development located near Balloch and operated by the existing Flamingo Land owners.

While I’m not a theme park fan in the sense of visiting them to take part, I have always enjoyed wandering around them and seeing people enjoying them and the rides. I used to enjoy a run down to Morecambe for the day, which included a wander around Frontier Land, but that was closed and razed some years ago, when the town also gave up its illuminations in deference to Blackpool. This unfortunately coincided with personal problems which meant I was unable to visit during the years this happened, and when I did eventually manage a return trip can only say that the town was a sad and dead place without those features.

While I don’t claim that’s equivalent to Balloch, I’m left wondering if the apparently massive negative reaction to the proposal is from the sort of people who just like to say ‘NO!’ to anything.

Flamingo Land chiefs have unveiled plans for a public consultation as they seek to progress their proposals for a £30 million leisure resort at Balloch.

The Yorkshire-based firm is in the process of creating a website showcasing the proposals in a bid to win over local residents.

Tens of thousands of individuals have already signed a petition opposing the plans, while a number of locals staged a demonstration against the proposals by gathering in Drumkinnon Woods – part of the land which could be affected by the development if it gets the green light.

Via: Flamingo Land at Balloch a step closer with public consultation

While some would also look at the handful of negative responses in the comments after the story, sadly, I’ve come to realise that most of the commenters on Scotsman stories are sad and miserable, or just out to make political capital.

Hopefully the media will follow this, as I’ll be more interested in the result of the public consultation, than the potentially biased response of a few noisy activists.

As the proposer says:

However, in September last year, Mr Gibb admitted that the plans would not go ahead if they weren’t supported by ‘most of the people in Scotland’.

He said: “Flamingo Land totally understands some of the local concerns about our proposed leisure resort in Balloch and we are committed to engaging with all parties involved to fully explain our ideas.

“Our bid was successful due to the sensitive way in which we have considered the site in question and we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the consultation group.

“To be frank, if our plans are not welcomed by most of the people in Scotland then we will not proceed further but I do not trust the results of the petition and we have not yet been given the chance to fully explain our plans.”

Amusement Park

Amusement Park

Just to be clear, I am merely mentioning this, although I expect to be misrepresented and said to be in favour of the development – merely because I have not suffered an immediate knee-jerk reaction stating I am against it.

For what it’s worth, I still think the theme park in Strathclyde Country Park looks out of place as a permanent installation. I originally thought it was just visiting when it first appeared.

I’m more interested in seeing how the National Park Authority plays its part, as I see it as a body that like to make rules to keep itself in a comfy well-paid job, has introduced rules that would probably have Tom Weir spinning in his grave given the restriction it has brought in for wanderers, yet seems happy to allow development and housed to be built within the park it is supposed to be preserving.

These links might help keep some folk’s blood pressure down:

Flamingo Land proposals are opposed by thousands

Our view on Flamingo Land’s Loch Lomond proposal

The LLTNPA’s involvement in the Flamingo Land proposals

The potential impact of Flamingo Land’s proposals on the National Park


July 17, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go-ahead for £1.5 million Barras area refurbishment

Barras Sign

Following quickly on from the news that an area of Sauchiehall Street is to be refreshed, it seems the area of The Barras is to enjoy a similar spot of ‘Spit and Polish’.

While it’s better than the fate which befell Paddy’s Market, I can’t quite work up the same enthusiasm for this announcement.

Don’t take that the wrong way, the area is in serious need of refurbishment. While much tidying has taken place around it, the core which was once the centre of The Barras has been left behind, and leaves much to be desired.

However, if we leave to one side the market area below and behind the Barrowland Ballroom (and that is sadly much deserted when I have taken a walk there in recent months) then the remaining area of The Barras is a virtual desert, with most of the buildings having been demolished in relatively recent years, leaving only a few of the more substantial structures still standing.

As I have noted in posts made a year ago, it can be alarming to arrive there in the afternoon, say 2 or 3 pm, and find the remaining stallholders in the street clearing up and getting ready to go home, while the few indoor pitches (who now label themselves as ‘Antique Dealers’) are pretty much deserted too.

And one of the oldest original “McIver’s Markets” (the founders were McIver, Margaret to be specific) buildings is really sad now (the one with the bikes on sale outdoors at one corner). While one corner still has some decent books and memorabilia on sale (from some real old original marker ‘characters’ too), the rest of the area is just dead and derelict stalls with broken junk piled up on them, gathering dust. The last few times I dropped in, even that ‘interesting’ corner seemed to have been abandoned, and was covered over with dust sheets.

Maybe I just go on quiet days, or at the wrong time of day.

Frankly, a visit to The Barras these days, for me at least, is actually a visit to Bill’s Tools Store (for any bargains on offer) and a check on Pearson’s, to make sure that’s still there too.

Work on a £1.5 million renovation of Glasgow’s Barras market is set to begin next month after the plans were approved by city councillors.

The plans, which form part of the Glasgow City Region Deal, will see the development of underused space aimed at attracting new businesses and creating a “key gateway” to the East End.

• READ MORE: What does the future hold for Glasgow’s Barras markets?

A report that went before the Glasgow City Region City Deal cabinet said: “The revitalisation of this area is both critical in overcoming barriers to wider development of the whole Collegelands Calton Barras (CCB) area.”

It added: “The overall CCB project will deliver sustainable economic growth in Glasgow and the city region. This will enable the regeneration of sites which are not suitable for development in their current state, including attracting investment that supports high value industries.”

Having been given the green light, the project is targeted for completion by March next year.

Via: Glasgow’s Barras market to get £1.5m revamp

I can only hope they have at least partial success in some sort of revival.

Or maybe we should just be honest, and say The Barras is gone, and has been for years.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Perth City Hall designs go on show

It’s a far cry from the first headline about Perth City Halls being proposed for demolition:

Plans to demolish Perth City Hall unveiled

Now the building has a number of proposals for its future:

Proposals for the re-development of one of Perth’s most historic buildings have been unveiled.

The B-listed Perth City Hall, which was built in 1911, has lain empty for more than 10 years and had been threatened with demolition.

However, it was saved after those plans were blocked by Historic Scotland.

It is now hoped the building will help boost Perth’s visitor attractions, with plans to transform it into a venue for the visual arts.

The council said the hall would become a major new venue, displaying museum and art collections alongside iconic loans from elsewhere and touring exhibitions from the UK and abroad.

It will also provide community and learning spaces.

Via: Architects’ designs for Perth City Hall unveiled

No hurry though – The final decision on the design will be made in the summer, with construction expected to begin in 2019.

Perth City Hall shortlisted designs - top Richard Murphy, bottom left LDN, bottom right Hoskins

Perth City Hall shortlisted designs – top Richard Murphy, bottom left LDN, bottom right Hoskins – Images via BBC News

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , | Leave a comment

Sauchiehall Street set for much needed refresh

Until recently, I wasn’t able to get into Glasgow – something of a penalty for someone who not only worked in the city centre, but was also a frequent visitor.

I don’t know how long I was unable to have anything more than the odd obligatory visit on business, but after more than a decade of not really seeing the place, the changes can come as a bit of a shock, and I don’t mean just the demolition and rebuilding seen in some areas.

While those (as I was) who see the place on a daily basis, incremental changes, decay, and just general wear and tear can go unnoticed.

For that reason, I was pleased to see:

MULTI-MILLION pound plans to re-develop Glasgow’s famous Sauchiehall Street to be debated by city councillors.

Members of the city region cabinet have been recommended to approve proposals brought forward by the City Deal team.

Sauchiehall Street as it looks at the moment. Picture: John Devlin

The plans would result in more cycle paths, additional pedestrian walkways, less traffic and more opportunities for businesses.

Work, if approved, would start on the section of road between Charing Cross to Rose Street.

Via: Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street set for £7.2m revamp

I’m sure there will be negative voices against this, but I also suspect they will come from the usual ‘Naysayers’ (those whose response to any suggestions is an automatic ‘NO!’ regardless of the benefits), and from those who see the area on a daily basis, and have just noticed that while it may not be fair to say it is ‘Run down’, it is tired after years of uncoordinated work.

Sauchiehall Street Transformed

Sauchiehall Street Transformed – Image from Glasgow city Council

June 18, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross to go on tour

I have a vague recollection of Salvador Dali’s iconic work, Christ of St John of the Cross, going on tour some years ago, but have no notes or mentions of thus from the time, but also from my own less-than-perfect memory, I also seem to have a definite note that the news of the time carried a warning to visitors that they were not viewing the original painting, but a copy commissioned to ensure its absence was not too hard to bear. (I can’t dig up an online note to confirm this, but I doubt I could have imagined both memories. Maybe someone reading this can confirm.)

Purely as a work of art, it is a most impressive sight, and one I was surprised to learn was owned by Glasgow’s Kelvingrove.

(The embedded slideshow below is supposed to be WordPress compatible, but the buttons don’t seem to work – try the source.)

Painted in 1951 and purchased by the City of Glasgow in 1952, it has become one of the best-loved in the entire collection, amongst Glaswegians and visitors.​

Dali’s creation was one of the more controversial purchases made by Dr Tom Honeyman, then Director of Glasgow Museums. It is now widely recognised that Dr Honeyman made a very astute decision. Not only did he secure the painting for less than the catalogue price, that price included the copyright, giving Glasgow a never-ending source of revenue from its investment

However, the painting was not well-received by everyone – students from Glasgow School of Art argued that the money could have been used to purchase work from Glaswegian or Scottish artists.

But, after going on display at Kelvingrove in 1952, the work attracted visitors in their droves as the gallery now attracts millions of visitors per year.

Sadly, the painting’s presence has not been without drama, and it has been damaged twice, most famously when the canvas was badly torn by a visitor wielding a sharp stone. Fortunately, the skilled conservators at Kelvingrove were able to repair the painting and the damage is barely visible.


September 2017 will see the painting go on loan to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, returning in summer 2018.

Glaswegians, and anyone who visits Kelvingrove, might care to take note that while we can wander in for a look as often as we like, with our Scottish National Museums offering Free Admission – ONE visit to the RA will set visitors back a massive £15.50 (£14 if you withhold the donation).

The painting will be one of the star attractions of Dalí/Duchamp, opening on 7 October. The exhibition will then travel to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida from February to May 2018.

I had a look at the Dalí Museum – tickets there are $24.

It will then go on loan to Auckland Castle in County Durham from autumn 2019 until spring 2020.

Via: Salvador Dali painting to leave Glasgow on loan

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

GoMA needs to get a grip

I used to enjoy making the effort to get into Glasgow’s GoMA (Gallery of Modern Art) whenever I was in the city centre, but in recent years I’ve begun to wonder why I bother.

All the permanent exhibits have gone.

It has so little to offer it was able to lose the basement exhibition space and turn it into a library.

There used to be an exhibit space on the first floor (there was a Sharmanka installation there) which seems to have gone.

Looking at its web site, all the interesting exhibits seem to be from past years – and I seem to have missed most of them to.

Guess I don’t get the chance to drop in often enough.

But I’m not just ‘having a go’, as the most recent claimed ‘exhibit’ that appeared in the news is really just an insult…

An empty gallery has been unveiled as the latest work by an artist who “cancelled” her exhibition at one of Glasgow’s leading venues.

Marlie Mul asked for no exhibition to be held in the Gallery of Modern Art.

All that will be visible in the gallery are billboards advertising that the exhibition has been cancelled.

People are being invited to “visit and interact with the space” – and suggest alternative uses for the gallery during the five months set aside for the show.

Gallery 1 at Goma will lie empty from Friday until the end of October.

Visitors will instead be greeted by 21 billboards advertising the cancellation of the exhibition by the Dutch artist.

‘Amazing opportunity’

Goma said Mul’s “conceptual gesture” was to act as an “implicit critique of what is displayed within museums and galleries”.

It said that by removing traditional content and opening the space for public use, Mul was “augmenting the institution to question the relevance of an art exhibition in 2017”.

Goma curator Will Cooper said the cancellation was an “amazing opportunity”.

He said: “By removing what would traditionally be considered an art object we are instead presenting the gallery as an empty space, giving us a moment to question the value in turning over exhibition after exhibition after exhibition.”

He added: “We’re excited by the different types of activities that might be on offer during this cancelled show.

Via: Glasgow gallery left empty for ‘cancelled’ exhibition

Since the ‘artist’ cancelled…

Are any sponsorships, fees, or payments cancelled too?

Or are they excluded?

It’s nonsense such as this that turns people off so rapidly when the words ‘Modern Art’ are uttered, and GoMA’s curator commenting that offering an empty space for public use is “amazing opportunity” is just an attempt cover up a disaster by repackaging it an hoping nobody notices.

(I noticed).

I’d say we are being sold short by GoMA these days, and they really should give themselves a shake.

At the moment, the best part is the shop, which is more interesting and inspiring than any of the exhibition spaces – and it’s a lot busier too!



Carl Sagan

Here’s a suggestion, an exhibit dedicate to Carl Sagan and his Baloney Detection Kit!

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Cute and sneaky trick allows council to introduce waste collection charge

Did you think your council introduced different bins for waste collection because it wanted you take part in recycling?


Highland Council has just given the game away as it get set to introduce a new charge to collect BROWN bins. From the beginning of July 2017, council tax payers can expect to pay an EXTRA £30 per year for the collection of garden and food waste. The service will be optional – take it or leave it.

The council says it expects to make an additional £660,000 through their clever lyengineered additional charge – saying it would have stopped the brown bin collection altogether otherwise:

“The garden waste collection service is not a statutory function which the Council has to provide.”

And who can argue with the council?

Via: Highland Council to charge for brown bin collection

I think this is a dirty and underhand trick, which we may see more councils adopt if nobody in Highland challenges the legality of this collection charge and the council’s claim that the collection concerned is not one of its statutory duties towards its council tax payers.

Beware segregated bins and collections

If your council has given you different wheelie bins for different classes of rubbish, then I suggest you ask your council if it is planning to divide its collections into statutory collections, obviously covered by what you pay for in your council tax, and non-statutory, for which they may introduce an optional additional charge, or you get to keep your own waste, for FREE!

Wheelie Bins - Wheelie Pricey?

Wheelie Bins – Wheelie Pricey?

Seriously council…

If you can pick and choose what you do and don’t charge for…

Can I pick and choose which council services I have to pay council tax for?

I’ve already been told I have to pay for services I don’t use, and never will, because that’s how council tax works.

Heads you win – tails I lose!

May 16, 2017 Posted by | council | , , , | Leave a comment

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