Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Gorbals surprise

While I don’t walk through the Gorbals frequently, I do wander there often enough to have a regular route  –  and that can be a mistake.

In this case, I always veer north towards the city and the river, so always miss some new flats built there some years back.

After all, there’s never anything interesting in new flats, is there?

In this case it seems there is, and I’ve been missing the chance to catch sight of the items seen below.

The Gatekeeper

This is a head on view of The Gatekeeper.

The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper

Without knowing that name to begin with, it took me a while to track down any background – I may be able to access many online records purely by lat/lon (or grid ref), but that doesn’t work for new stuff.

However, I now know this installation was created by Dan Dubovitz and Matt Baker, a group known as Heisenberg.

And that it was unveiled in 2002. I wouldn’t have noticed that them – being far too diverted by my own issues.

But, I should have wandered past in more recent years. Steering clear of the main roads for back streets is obviously not always a good idea.

As far as I can see, the suspended sculpture was cast in bronze, and hangs over a framed and illuminated picture. I’ve also read that there is a small crypt in the foundations below. That is said to have been filled with the ashes from a bonfire held by Heisenberg, where locals burnt things they wanted to leave behind from the old Gorbals in a kind of private ritual.

The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper

It has gone on to gain the title of ‘The Angel with the Bleeding Hand’.

This follows the formation of a crack in one of the figure’s hands, which has allowed rainwater to penetrate, and formed a reddish-brown trail on the surface.

As seen in context.

The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper is meant to represent the Gorbals being on the cusp between demolition and reconstruction.

Accompanying are The Attendants, meant to represent “an emotional response to the diasporal flux of people through the area over the past 200 years”.

The Attendants

One of 12 ‘Attendants’, aluminium figures overseeing entrances into the flats.

Gorbals Attendant

Gorbals Attendant

I’d like to revisit this on a better day.

These pics were just taken by chance on a grey autumnal day, and while some poking and prodding in processing saw vastly improvement, I’d like to see better as the dull day revealed little detail.

The ‘context’ shot in particular.

A great example of not being able to avoid tipping the camera, and having converging verticals mixed with Caneither horizontal nor vertical alignment of an architectural view.

As can be seen, aligning the one true vertical (the chain suspending the sculpture) throws the rest off, and aligning the rest offends the eye as it means the chain takes on a silly non-vertical angle. The effect of applying perspective corrections was even worse.


December 3, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Looking down their noses and judging us since… forever! (You know who)

I was going to use these pics later in the week, but since it’s National Cat Day I suppose I should move a little faster.

‘Judgemental cat’ seems to appear more often in shared images these days, and while I was sitting in George Square recently, I noticed I was in line with one of the lions, and it was looking down on me, did not seem to be particularly impressed.

I wandered over and grabbed a pic of the pair, but the flattened perspective of images loses the effect when these are seen from a similar perspective for real, in normal 3D. Their long noses and downward gaze are just lost in the flattened perspective of a 2D image.

I suspect something similar happens with the ‘new’ Rolls Royce. For me, at least, this car makes a terrible model, and ever since the current body style and nose appeared, I’ve thought it looks terrible in pics. Seen for real, again to me, it’s almost a completely different car/shape as the shape takes on its proper 3D view. I find the effect somewhat unsettling, but it has taught me to be careful.

The long noses and gaze of the lions don’t make it through the 2D conversion in a flat pic.

Pity, this aspect looked a lot more impressive in the flesh… er… stone.

I guess some sort of off-centre view which catches their profile as well is what is needed, so I will have to revisit this view one day.

Until then…

George Square North Lion

George Square North Lion


George Square South Lion

George Square South Lion

Maybe it’s just me, but Judgemental (black) Cat from the Interwebs seems to look alarmingly similar.

Judgemental Cat

Judgemental Cat

October 29, 2017 Posted by | photography | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Another Commonwealth Shames Legacy failure – sculptures nobody’s heard of

Having lived through the ridiculous months of disruption prior to 2014’s Commonwealth Shames nonsense (was all that really just for few DAYS of events?), and still see plenty of land that was razed to make way for… sorry, I have no idea, not to mention a WHOLE CARE HOME in Dalmarnock that still seems to be standing empty to this day, I tripped over another LEGACY FAILURE recently.

Passing the fire station in Polmadie’s Calder Street I spotted a cute sculpture beside the ‘staff’ entrance.

Commonwealth Discus Sculpture

Commonwealth Discus Sculpture

I expected it to related to the firefighters, but when I looked closer was amazed to find it was not, but was actually number 8 of 11, with the remainder scattered somewhere around Glasgow.

The plaque gives no details of the collection, their locations, or even where to find out about them.

Commonwealth Legacy Sculpture Plaque

Commonwealth Legacy Sculpture Plaque

As someone who had no interest in the nonsense, this collection is a dreadful failure and waste.

These should have been highlighted years ago, to make sure that people like me (NOT interested in the Shames) would have been made aware of this collection.

It’s a shame, as the sculpture actually looks quite good, and I’d like to see the rest of the collection.

Sadly, it’s lost as just another mess left behind that useless waste. Well, probably not useless if you were one of the lucky folk that picked up some of the £300 million+ squandered on it. (Let’s not forget the thousands of mugs volunteers who helped keep the cost down).

Glasgow faces up to reality of a divided Commonwealth Games legacy

I’ve found one sculpture for you…

See if you can go find the rest now.


They’re a secret, even online a simple search only brought up ONE reference – it gave only the background, a pic of the first one at Cowcaddens, and not as much a list identifying the rest.

Since I don’t want to be seen as kicking the concept of the statues or those responsible for their creation (I am, however, quite happy to be seen as mocking the Commonwealth Shames), here’s the intro:

Community fire stations across Glasgow will be home to lasting symbols of the 2014 Commonwealth Games thanks to the on-going partnership between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), the Scottish Prisons Service and Glasgow Life.

A series of sculptures created by prisoners at HMP Barlinnie will be installed in each of the city’s 11 stations, with the first officially unveiled Monday (16 June) at Cowcaddens.

SFRS offered the use of the city’s fire stations after Glasgow Life and HMP Barlinnie ran into difficulty when attempting to find suitable sites to place the then-planned sculptures.

So, all you have to do now is go find a list of the city’s 11 fire stations.

Nice one by the firefighters – pity they seem to have received little recognition or publicity for their efforts.

October 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Fort William sculpture will recall the Ford Model T climb of Ben Nevis

One of the things which has always intrigued me is an event I am reminded of whenever I open a number of the books I have collected regarding the history of motoring in Scotland – the time a Model T was driven to the top of Ben Nevis.

The stunt took place in 1911 (repeated in 1928) and was carried out by Henry Alexander Jr, the son of Scotland’s first Ford dealer, who drove the Model T up and down the mountain as a publicity stunt to show the superiority of the mass-produced American car in comparison to hand-crafted British cars.

The attempt was not simply a case of turning up at the foot of mountain one day, and heading for summit, but was carefully prepared for.

It took six weeks to prepare the route for the challenge, with workers laying a timber path along the route to the summit, and five days to complete the trip, during which the car would frequently sink axle-deep into the boggy ground and have to be pulled out by rope. It seems that some obstacles were dynamited to clear them from the path. A newspaper report from the time said that one wrong turn of the wheel could have resulted in a fall that would have destroyed the car and killed the driver.

See film of the climb: Lost film of Ford Model T on Ben Nevis found

The 5-minute film is not embeddable, but can be seen here, on the BFI site: Motoring Ben Nevis 1911

It’s intriguing to note that, contrary to modern expectations where large tyres (or even tracks) are used to reduce loading and sinking into soft ground, the Model T’s skinny wheels and tyres actually worked with the car’s high ground clearance by allowing it to sink into muddy or soft rutted ground and gain traction at the bottom of the rut, where the ground was still relatively firm, as it not been churned up.

Back in 2015, an organisation called Ben Nevis Bronze Ford Committee began raising £86,000 to pay for a full-size bronze sculpture of the 1911 Model T, to be installed in Fort William.

Funding is now in place to have the sculpture made in Edinburgh, cast at the Powderhall Bronze Foundry, and installed in Fort William’s Cameron Square next May.

Via: Ben Nevis Ford Model T sculpture to be made

The actual climb took place between May 9 and 13 of 1911 – with plenty of snow still in evidence.

Ben Nevis Model T

Ben Nevis Model T – pic via BBC News

July 22, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Seldom seen sculpture hidden in back street

I came across a building (which I can’t describe in this post, but will do later) in an area of Glasgow that is now quite isolated, but was originally selected as it gave necessary access and space for its purpose.

Today, changes to the surrounding area mean that the poor old head has to be scratched for a moment or two, just to work out how to get to the building when looking at it from the nearest main road – well I did, since the spot is not one I’m not too familiar with, and it’s also on the opposite side of the road from what could be referred to as the ‘busy city centre’, and that road can be a busy one to cross if you have no real reason. I usually don’t.

On the plus side, I found they had at least provided a path through some trees and bushes, so it’s not necessary to follow the road, or go hiking.

Pic below is detail of the sculpture mentioned, clipped from a larger pic.

Do you recognise it?

I’ll add another detail from the building tomorrow. Incidentally, it’s now abandoned and derelict, and I see is also now considered to be ‘At Risk’.

Glasgow Sculpture X

Glasgow Sculpture X

July 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

The almost anonymous sculpture on Downiebrae Road off Dalmarnock Road

While it may not be the most impressive piece of sculpture to be found in the area, it is still a shame that it is almost completely missable from the main road (Dalmarnock Road) which passes only a few metres away as it crosses the Clyde at Dalmarnock Bridge.

I’ve passed it many time, and the sin is that this is exactly what I do almost every time… PASS IT!

I forget where it is, but there is a small plaque describing it, but even that story has vanished from my head.

I did have a look online for some more details, but without a proper name, I didn’t have any luck. It seems to have been missed by most other folk as well

For the moment, I do have this rather sorry view of the setting, taken one evening when the illumination caught my attention – not so much for its eye-catching splendour, but for the fact that only TWO of the six ground-based lights were working.

It will be a while before I’m here when it gets dark early enough for me to catch it lit again, but maybe now that this is one of the entrance roads (it was the only one until the new footbridge was finally built and opened recently) to Cunningar Woodland Park, maybe it will get some love, and its lighting will be upgraded, or just maintained.

I’m just sticking this less than acceptable view here since it’s all I’ve really got (that I can find), and its existence and need to be bettered should help to serve as a reminder for me to collect something better in future.

Downiebrae Road Sculptures at Night

Downiebrae Road Sculptures at Night

June 10, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Lifeboat station sculpture

I wonder how many people pass by the lifeboat station of the Glasgow Humane Society and fail to notice the sculpture about one of the access doors?

It’s not exactly a high-profile location, nor is it particularly easy to spot, as the spot is littered with other odds and ends belonging to the station (there’s even some ‘classic’ cast-iron there, rescued from the street – but maybe another day), and since most folk wander around looking down at their phones in some sort of dumb trance, I doubt many see it.

It makes a change from usual stainless steel used for many such creations these days, as the plain old steel it’s been drafted from is weathering and rusting, and making it look completely different from those more usual shiny installations.

It’s a nice catch to make if in the area, and a shame to miss if passing nearby.

Clyde Sculpture

Clyde Sculpture

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

A little bird on bird action

I really didn’t expect to catch this shot, with the waiting time for the compact camera to wake up and initialise, then the time for the power zoom to zip out to the 10X end, then more time for the autofocus to settle on the backlit image – the real bird on the sculpted bird should have spotted me, laughed, and flown away long before the camera decided it was ready to shoot.

But it didn’t, and even got the exposure right too (I had time for second shot and tweaked its exposure for the backlighting, but it was hopelessly overexposed – the auto setting really does work surprisingly well.

The sculptured heron is one commissioned by Sustrans in 1998, and is sited on the banks of the River Clyde at Carmyle , near the Clydeford bridge. It is intended to symbolise the environmental regeneration of the river, and stands over 8 metres high on the Clyde Walkway near Cambuslang, and Route 75 of the National Cycle Network.

Clyde Heron and Bird

Clyde Heron and Bird

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Nae Eye Deer roam Cunningar Loop Woodland Park

Following on from the previous sculpture post

Love it loathe, Glasgow humour works, even if can’t be understood, or needs translation for ‘foreigners’.

I saw these deer in their unmolested form just after the park opened and I (finally) got to have a wander around the loop. I was so shocked at finally getting into the place, after trying for about FIVE* years (maybe more, I can’t remember when I first tried to get onto the loop), I forgot about that batch of pics, and never got around to using them.

But back to the fun, and when I had a quick wander after the new footbridge over the River Clyde was found to be finished and open recently, re-acquainted myself with some of the residents.

Cunningar Loop Nae Eye Deer

Cunningar Loop Nae Eye Deer


Whit’s thatWhat is that?

Nay eye deerNo idea.


Please note also that Scots are NOT grammatically illiterate, and the apostrophe has been both placed and used correctly.

See also:

Deer sculpture story

  • Unfortunately, I found out how to access the area of Cunningar Loop some years before the 2014 Commonwealth Shames were inflicted on Glaswegians, and when I took a walk to the access road found my way barred by gates and fencing, but was promised a great new park was being created behind, and would be open BEFORE the Shames began.

Of course, this never happened, but the fences and gates stayed up, promises of the park continued, funding apparently dried up, more promises, and two years after the Shames the place did finally materialise, and even got its bridge.

So, not at all bad in the end, and as someone who lives on the opposite side of the river from the original access road in Dalmarnock, I also appreciate that new bridge

May 6, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

New sculpture evolves in Cunningar Loop Park

Cunningar Loop is a place of surprises these days.

I just detoured through it after finding the new bridge was not only installed, but open – expect a post about that when I get a moment, but I just did not realise how long it had been since I’d followed that path, and previous visits had made it look as if work had stalled, so I forgot all about it.

But this was another chance find as I had just crossed the bridge for the sake of doing it, but then decided to head for the original entrance, and found the sculpture below had been added (delivered back in November 2016):

Evolve, a six metre high sculpture created by Glasgow based artist Rob Mulholland took over six months to create, and is fabricated from high grade stainless steel. It has over six hundred individual pieces welded together to create its structure.

This is by the same artist who created Oatlands Girl, another recent find.

Cunningar Evolve Sculpture

Cunningar Evolve Sculpture

May 5, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Oatlands Girl – a new sculpture to find in Glasgow

Oatlands Girl is a four metre high sculpture installed in the Gorbals/ Oatlands area of Glasgow, unveiled by the First Minister of Scotland in 2016.

As part of the creative process, children from the area’s St Francis’, Blackfriars, and Hampden primary schools were encouraged to investigate their own artistic potential, and the sculpture is said to represent the youth of Oatlands looking to the future, whilst recognising the role played by the past in the region’s story.

Find it at the junction of Polmadie Road and New Rutherglen Road.

I had never heard of it the day I was there, and found it purely by chance.

The head is actually a flat profile, in stainless steel, as opposed to a 3-dimensional figure.

Combined with the shape of the plinth, which is not square but features a slight taper, I found it hard to take pic that did not look ‘wrong’ to the eye unless it was taken square on to the subject. I generally prefer an oblique view catching two sides at once, but with the flat subject, tapering base, and the addition of perspective errors arising from the buildings behind, such a view just looked as if it was sloping to one side or another, regardless of how I tried to straighten it with my limited tools

Oatlands Girl

Oatlands Girl

Here’s the plaque in detail.

Oatlands Girl Plaque

Oatlands Girl Plaque

While front is etched with the girl’s feature, the back of the sculpture is plain, although it does have some more of the notes with local sayings on them. (Sorry I couldn’t step any further back to catch it all, even with a wide lens, and the angle meant trying to stitch a panorama failed miserably too).

Oatlands Girl Back

Oatlands Girl Back

I found an original concept sketch online – credit to: Rob Mullholland – News Page

The final version is really close to the concept, while the ‘trail’ of objects seems to be the sculptor’s trademark.

Original concept sketch - Sculptor Rob Mulholland

Original concept sketch – Sculptor Rob Mulholland

March 11, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

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