Glasgow Fair painting to go on show

January 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

A long lost painting of Glasgow Fair has been acquired by Glasgow’s Museums and will go on show at the beginning of February in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Conservator Polly Smith has worked on the John Knox 'Glasgow Fair' painting to make it ready for public display. Photograph by Ian Watson

Conservator Polly Smith has worked on the John Knox ‘Glasgow Fair’ painting to make it ready for public display.
Photograph by Ian Watson

The exquisitely detailed picture was painted by John Knox, a famous artist of very big canvases, around 1819- 1822.  It shows around 1000 people in fine detail on Glasgow Green attending the annual Glasgow Fair.

There are booths, sideshows and rides with people having a good time in and around the stalls and activities. The figures show rich and poor, soldiers from different regiments, street vendors, beggars, merchants, pick pockets, men watching a cock fight and a woman trying to drag her drunk husband away from a seller of alcohol.  There are twins in matching clothes and a sign for Mr Taylor’s Olympic Circus which advertises slack wire, tight rope dancing, theatrical and horsemanship displays. A travelling menagerie called Wombwell’s Grand Collection of Beasts, is also seen. An anti-slavery booth is included in the fun of the Fair.

The painting was thought to be missing for more than 100 years. Then, in 2013 in Sotheby’s in London, it was sold as depicting a fair in Aberdeen by an Irish artist William Turner de Lond. Later it was recognised as the work of John Knox because of the landmark Nelson Monument on Glasgow Green which is seen in the background.

No purchase price has been revealed but it was bought with generous support of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Trustees of the Hamilton Bequest and Friends of Glasgow Museums.

Said Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life: ‘John Knox’s Glasgow Fair is a painting that belongs to Glasgow and we are delighted to welcome it home. It shows Glaswegians enjoying themselves at the Glasgow Fair in the city’s oldest park. It also helps us understand the historical importance of a holiday many of us still enjoy every July.’

The acquisition is supported by the Showman’s Guild of Great Britain. They recognise the importance of the painting in demonstrating the contribution of the history and heritage of travelling Showpeople to the development of the city.

The display will be complimented by a programme of events and activities including storytelling, creative writing, multi-sensory workshops, school visits, specialist talks and family weekends. For more information visit:


Bandstand tuning up to be used again

April 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Kelvingrove bandstand is behind the decorative gates.

There is new hope that Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre will be revived in time to be used during the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

As the Easter holiday started, Glasgow Building Preservation Trust announced that their long-running campaign to restore the venue had passed Round 1 of the Heritage Lottery Fund process. Said Anne McChlery, Director at the Trust: ‘A first-round pass means the project meets criteria for funding. We believe it has potential to deliver high-quality benefits and value for Lottery money. The application was in competition with other supportable projects, so a first-round pass is an endorsement of outline proposals. We now have up to two years to submit fully developed proposals to compete for a firm award.’

The Trust and its partners – Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, Architectural Heritage Fund, Friends of Kelvingrove Park and the local community – have development funding to cover draft design costs for this stage. During 2012, the project team will be concentrating on refining the design proposals and fundraising to secure the estimated £1.4million to bring this historic and social landmark back to life. But it is ‘full of asbestos’ said Anne, so that has to be removed before further checks on the building structure can be made.

Said Anne: ‘We are keen to record people’s memories of the bandstand as it was an important cultural venue. Initially designed for brass bands in the 1920s it was well used up till about 1999 when Radio Clyde had majour groups there. It even hosted poll tax demonstrations! We want to capture that cultural heritage and welcome anyone with memories and pictures to come and share them with us.’ The project Design Team comprises: Page/Park architects; nbm cost consultants; SKM structural engineers; Harley Haddow services engineer.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage assets and has invested over £536 million in Scotland.

Briggait born again

July 24, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

by Lynsay Keough, photos Stuart Maxwell

Jennifer Paterson shows of her acrobatic skills

Jennifer Paterson shows off her acrobatic skills

One of the most familiar features on the Glasgow skyline reopened its doors in July. As if beaming with pride,  sunlight flooded into the newly restored Briggait on launch day.

The beautiful, A-listed,  former fishmarket has been lovingly transformed and now houses more than 80 artists and art organisations. It hosted several Merchant City Festival events.

Members of the public will be able to access the stunning 1873 courtyard on a permanent basis from this month.

The redevelopment has taken two years and £6.5 million to complete. Funding came from various sources including Glasgow City Council, Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, the Hugh Fraser Foundation, the Mickel fund and ethical lenders, Tridos Bank.

David Cook, Chief Executive of WASPS Studios, the Arts charity responsible for the redevelopment,  is delighted with the uptake of the new studio facilities. He said: ‘We have been able to offer people on our waiting list the new studios. Some artists have come over from King Street. The light and energy in the Briggait is amazing.’
Attending the launch was Jennifer Paterson, one half of “Spokes”, a aerial duo skilled in acrobatic displays with lengths of  silk.