Alasdair Gray mural acquired for the public will go on display in Glasgow

A mural by the the late Alasdair Gray will go on display in the museum where he learnt to draw after it was acquired for the public.

Painted in 1964, Cowcaddens Streetscape in the Fifties, is one of Gray’s best-known works and what he referred to as ‘my best big oil painting.’

The painting shows life in the Glasgow area post-war and captured the look and feel of daily life.

Before display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum the painting will be conserved at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre where academics and fans will be able to see it.

The work was acquired by Glasgow Life through support of The National Fund for Acquisitions, administered with Scottish Government funding by National Museums Scotland.

‘This painting is a remarkable addition to our collection of works by the legendary Alasdair Gray,’ said Bailie Annette Christie, chair of Glasgow Life.

‘It is a powerful image of Glasgow by an artist with strong links to the city and belongs in a public collection where Glaswegians and visitors can enjoy it.’

The previous owner of Cowcaddens Streetscape in the Fifties, Angela Mullane refers to her friend’s own words to talk about the importance of this work for Glasgow and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

‘I started making maps when I was small showing places, resources, where the enemy and where love lay,’ said Alasdair Gray.

‘One day Mum put some of my scribblings in a handbag and took me by tram to Kelvingrove.

‘She had read in a newspaper that Miss Jean Irwin held an art class on Saturday mornings in Kelvingrove… I drifted around looking at what these kids painted while Mum showed my scribbles to Miss Irwin, who let me join her class.

‘For the next five years, Saturday mornings were my happiest times.’

Gray, who died in 2019, was one of Scotland’s most multi-talented artists.

He was born in Riddrie in the east of Glasgow and attended The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) in the 1950s. 

Cowcaddens is a significant example of his painting within the decade following his graduation from GSA in 1957.

Gray was a prolific poet, playwright, novelist, painter, and printmaker whose work continues to be celebrated in books, exhibitions, conferences, and the annual Gray Day (25 February).

He credited his fledgling love of painting to a weekend art class at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.  

The addition of Cowcaddens enhances the holdings that were previously acquired or gifted from the artist to Glasgow Life Museums.

This includes City Recorder (1977–78) and the Moira McAlpine Bequest 2015.

It joins artworks in the collection by his peers and friends at GSA – Carole Gibbons and Alan Fletcher – and works relating to the documentation of Glasgow through the fine art holdings. 

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