Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

There was this bike

One of those things I’d seen a pic of years ago, but had forgotten all about, with not even the foggiest idea where it was.

Then I tripped over it last night.

This is ‘BANKIES BIKE’ (don’t ask about the apostrophe – it was too dark and too faded for me to see for sure, I may look closer in daylight one day), which was an unexpected find just as I reached the Forth and Clyde Canal and was about to turn around and head back home.

There’s surprisingly little about it to be found online.

I know it was a sculpture commissioned to mark regeneration of the surrounding area some years ago, by the local council, but although I found a link to the sculptor’s web site, which promised details – it’s dead.

So, I got lucky and some kind person had parked their little car right beside it, so you can get a good idea of the size and scale of this thing.

It even had a D-Lock to help prevent it being stolen (and thrown in the canal) – but that MIGHT not be needed for his particular bike.

Bankies Bike

Bankies Bike

I thought I’d pull back a little, for little more context, but I kind of missed out the Forth and Clyde Canal, which was running just along the bottom of this wider view. The vertical thing on the right is actually a bike-counter sign seen side on, which shows an active count of the number of bikes passing on the canal path.

Bankies Bike Location

Bankies Bike Location

A closer look at the sign on the left, the stone at the bottom of the blue sign with the distances marked is for the Forth and Clyde canal.

Forth And Clyde Canal Signs

Forth And Clyde Canal Signs

Another sign just along from this one gave some more distances, with the one showing 9 miles back to Glasgow being the one that interested me. However, I wasn’t going back that way, just being nosey.

Interesting to note the 1/4 mile difference between them – obviously the folk that installed these two signs never spoke to one another. Or looked at one another’s work. They are NOT 1/4 mile apart.

Trust me, I know what 440 yards looks like, and there’s not much more than 40 feet between them.

Forth And Clyde Canal Other Signs

Forth And Clyde Canal Other Signs

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September 1, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Anderston bench reminds us to ‘Always Inspect’

As a reminder to take more care when looking at interesting subjects and taking pics, this recent look at a set of three sculptures I realised I had been passing without noticing provides a good example.

Distracted by the find itself, and then a little more when I noted the subject descriptions on the nearby board were in a different (left-right) order than their actual positions, I didn’t look closely at what just appeared to be a low barrier in front of them. This just looked like a bit of protection for them, made of three pieces of substantial wooden beam, but was later found to be a bench where weary travellers could have a seat and take a rest.

Anderston Footbridge Local Heroes Sculpture

Anderston Footbridge Local Heroes Sculpture

Looking closer, the bench has round metal plaques set into each end support.

They’ve weathered a bit, but can still be read if you get down there and have a look.

This one describes the ‘Portrait Bench’ and its nearby guardians.

Portrait Bench

Portrait Bench

While this one acknowledges Sustrans and its funding.

Sustrans Bench Plaque

Sustrans Bench Plaque

August 25, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nice little sculpture hidden in Anderston, and a footbridge

I have to confess to passing this sculpture a number of times before even realising it was there.

The overhanging trees tend to shade it, and as can be seen from the pic, it also ‘melts’ into the background.

Anderston Footbridge Local Heroes Sculpture

Anderston Footbridge Local Heroes Sculpture

This panel in a nearby board gives more details of the characters, but for some reason best known to someone we’ll never know, the characters on the board are in a different order (left to right) than the full size versions.

Click for bigger and easier read.

Anderston Footbrdge Local Heroes

Anderston Footbridge Local Heroes

This is interesting as it memorialises the creation of the Anderston Footbridge, known locally for years as ‘The Bridge to Nowhere’, being one of a number of planned exits, paths, or routes related to the original M8 motorway build that were never completed or delayed, for one reason or another.

This has now been turned into a superb route for walkers and cyclists that keeps them far away from the roads and motorway, and links to other such dedicated routes, notably the WCW or West City Way which takes you into the city centre on a segregated and light-controlled route.

Again, click for bigger for an easier read.

Anderston Footbridge Sign

Anderston Footbridge Sign

Update

Seems I was too quick to run away from this one, and didn’t realise that the lump of wood mounted in front of the three fine fellows featured was in fact a handy bench provided for weary travellers.

Plaques set in each end support tell more.

Portrait Bench

Portrait Bench

 

Sustrans Bench Plaque

Sustrans Bench Plaque

August 22, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Pasionaria on the Clyde Walkway

I think I missed this for years, so have finally taken a decent pic and collected some notes.

I was more than a little surprised the first time I came across a pic of this statue, and couldn’t recall ever seeing it. To be fair to myself, in the past I seldom walked on that side of Clyde Street, let alone next to the river on the Clyde Walkway.

The statue, La Pasionaria (The Passion Flower”), is a tribute by the city of Glasgow (and the Labour Movement) to the British Volunteers of the International Brigade who fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9. Their fight against fascism is embodied in the statue of Dolores Ibárruri (1895-1989), a heroine of their cause and a leader in the Spanish Republican and Communist movements. The sculpture was commissioned by the International Brigade Association of Scotland in 1974, and produced by the Liverpool based sculptor, Arthur Dooley. His fee of £3,000 was funded following an appeal to Trades Unionists and members of the Labour Movement in Scotland.

It stands about 9 ft (3 m) high, is made of painted fibreglass, and mounted on a rectangular plinth on a steel pedestal made from a vertical steel girder.

Find it near the south west corner of Clyde Street, facing the River Clyde from the Clyde Walkway, where it was erected on 5 December 1979.

Sad to say, the dirty world of Politics threatened the existence of the memorial, and it seems that it attracted hostile opposition from Glasgow’s Conservative Councillors, who vowed to demolish it whenever they unseated the city’s Labour administration. Despite my low opinion of certain aspects of this world, I do think things are better now, and such a threat would not be risked today – if only because of the effect of so-called ‘social media’, and the potential backlash.

The memorial’s construction led to further problems, such as under-funding and its weight. The latter led to a shortening of its girder pedestal before it could be transported from Liverpool. While the sculptor had intended to form the statue in bronze, this was not possible due to the cost.

Dooley reportedly had six attempts to perfect his design for the ‘gaunt, outstretched figure’ of Ibárruri, apparently living in poverty in his Liverpool workshop and staying in a working men’s hostel when in Glasgow.

Thanks to the Political nonsense noted above, the statue was erected without any public ceremony, in case those opposed to it caused some sort of embarrassing incident.

The sad story continues since the subject, Ibárruri, could not be invited to a non-existent unveiling, and the sculptor never saw his finished work, seemingly penniless and unable to afford the fare to Glasgow.

Via City of Sculpture: La Pasionara

BBC Archive article inspired the series ‘Coast’ La Pasionaria Memorial

Having been threatened with being torn down in demolition, it is now A Category B Listed Building in Glasgow, Glasgow Clyde Street, Statue of Dolores Ibarruri, La Pasionaria

See also 2009 restoration appeal article La Pasionaria: the fading icon

There are numerous articles online now, covering the sculpture’s history.

Not bad, given the threat to its existence and lack of ceremony.

Glasgow Clyde Walkway La Pasionaria

Glasgow Clyde Walkway La Pasionaria

June 18, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Billy Connolly Wire Mural – and follow-up to his 75th birthday murals

When (Sir) Billy Connolly was given a series of three giant murals spread around Glasgow city centre, I was (for once) quick of the mark and went off to collect a set of pics for myself.

More on that later – this post is really about another ‘mural’ I discovered while tracking down the three new works.

While I might describe this installation more as a sculpture than a mural, I have to yield to the description to be seen on the plaque that accompanies it, and shows I missed this 2011 event.

Billy Connolly Wire Mural Plaque

Billy Connolly Wire Mural Plaque

I’m not sure if I knew about it at the time, back then my chances of getting there for a look probably ranked in the region of ‘slim to nil’, so while I might have seen it announced in the news at the time, chances are it would have ‘Gone in one ear, and out the other’.

But, I did find out about it, and exactly where to find it, and even managed to get there and grab a pic.

My collection is compete!

Billy Connolly Wire Mural

Billy Connolly Wire Mural

Although the plaque seems to fail to mention it, one of the reasons this installation was placed here is because Billy Connolly was born in Dover Street, Anderston – but that was demolished in the 1970s, so they couldn’t really put it there.

75th Birthday mural updates

While the birthday murals created in 2017 remain unchanged, I noticed that they had received small descriptive plaques.

Well, to be accurate the Gallowgate and Old Wynd murals have plaques, but I couldn’t find one for the Vettriano creation in Dixon Street.

See the pics here: (Sir) Billy Connolly’s 75th birthday murals got some plaques

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Stone faces in Baillieston Road

Don’t really know why I’ve never pointed a camera at these three characters before, I’ve both seen and passed them often enough.

Collecting something else, I decided today was their day, and grabbed a couple of shots as I walked past.

Stoneface

Stoneface

I’d never even really looked at them, but they obviously all of different faces, each quite different, and if modelled on actual faces, probably would also be recognisable.

There’s no lettering, and I’m guessing there’s a fourth face hidden away on the side that can’t be seen.

That ‘flaw’ alone is enough to make it clear the carving is not an original part of the house where it lies now.

I wonder what its story is, and where was originally located?

March 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , | Leave a comment

Sculpture at The Forge

I’d forgotten about this pic, taken originally as a test when evaluating a new lens.

Having had it drummed into my head that fixed lenses are so much better than zooms, the idea was to audition a 35 mm standard lens to see the difference compared to my usual zooms.

Frankly, at least for handheld working outside a studio… fixed lenses are a disaster. Something I can state after a few days of misery after trying to live with such things.

All of a sudden everywhere shrinks, and you can’t stand far enough back from anything to get it fitted into the frame.

By the same token, anything in the distance is suddenly too far away to reach.

Possibly the most irritating thing revealed by this is that the arrival of well-developed zoom designs in recent years, sensors that exceed the resolution of most lenses, and signal processing and editing that makes ‘wet’ darkroom processing look archaic, means that going fixed is really just masochism.

While there’s nothing wrong with this sculpture pic, I couldn’t get it all in frame, or would have odd geometry and distortion from tilting the lens.

With my usual zoom, I could quickly have stood at the right distance to avoid tilting the camera and introducing unnecessary distortion.

And I haven’t even touched on the lack of vibration reduction or anti-shake with many fixed lenses.

Memory fade has set in already, but I think there is an explanation of the story behind this sculpture nearby, but I haven’t been nearby since that day, so haven’t managed any reminders to help my memory along.

Forge Sculpture

Forge Sculpture

Bonus test pic

This was another pic that sealed the fate of the fixed lens.

I tried taking a pic of a single windowed shop front, and below you can see as much as could capture with a ‘standard’ lens, with my back against a car parked next to the kerb.

Not even close, I’d have to go stand in traffic to capture something that I regularly photograph either from the pavement in front, or more usually by zooming in from the opposite side of the road – all in perfect safety.

Shop Window

Shop Window (almost)

I found another downside – the fast lens means it tends to work at wide aperture in low light, which means narrow depth of field, unless care is taken to control that before taking the shot. And there’s more. Without vibration reduction, stopping down the aperture leads to camera shake risk.

Often cited as a disadvantage by ‘armchair experts’, the smaller maximum aperture of most zooms means these problems can usually be forgotten, and take care of themselves.

February 1, 2018 Posted by | photography | , , | Leave a comment

George Square memorial lions in profile, as promised

I did promise to include these fine carvings in profile, after an attempt to capture them looking down their noses at everyone failed to come off as expected.

The loss of perspective and flattening of their full 3D glory was completely lost in the static image, even though I managed to take if from the desired location.

Looking back at the lions in that post, it actually looks better than I thought, maybe because I still had the ‘real’ view fresh in my head.

Whatever, here is that promised profile view, with the pair looking at one another (never going to happen in the real world) and can be clicked for a larger version.

Memorial Lions Profile

Memorial Lions Profile (Click for bigger)

January 23, 2018 Posted by | council, photography, World War I, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | council, photography, World War I, World War II | , , , , , | 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.

Hint

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

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