After 24 years at the Vic, Rita Greig will have to lock the door of the famous art students’ pub and music venue soon.
The Glasgow ikon in Renfrew Street is at the heart of Glasgow School of Art’s campus and is to be refurbished. It will close in June for two years. Said Vic venues manager, Rita: “It is like a huge family village here. You see new people come in on the first term, very nervous. But as time goes on, they gain confidence and blossom as adults.”
Because it is run by the Students Representative Council (SRC) all the profits go back to help the students. “The hardship fund has helped pay for exhibitions, feed people and launch careers,” said the spirited grandmother who hits 50 this year.
Some of the famous people who’ve been through the doors in the early stages of their creative careers include Timorous Beasties’ Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, who met at Glasgow School of Art where they studied textiles. The textile tower block – the Newbery – is behind the Vic and will be demolished along with the Foulis building, to make way for 21st century facilities. “We could only afford one roll of Timorous Beasties wallpaper which we put behind the bar,” said Rita. “The President at that time, Amanda Dobbratz, then made little pictures from all the offcuts and gave each of us in the Vic, something relevant to us personally.”
Rita also has items gifted to her by students through the years. World class painters such as Neil Clements, once SRC President, and now located in Berlin and New York is one of them.
“Travis have played here and Scissor Sisters cut their teeth here,” said Rita, proudly. “Franz Ferdinand practised in the band room and Fran Healy from Travis was here during Celtic Connections when the Vic was the festival’s late night club.”
With a staff of 30 tending the bars and music venues in the Vic building, Rita is kept busy. But the decision on where the temporary SRC chill out zone will be during the refurbishment period, has yet to be taken. “I don’t worry about it,” said Rita philosophically, “I’ve asked for practical things like the cellar to be below the bar to make it easier and cheaper to clean the pipes in the new version of the Vic, but other than that, there is no sense in worrying about things. I’m looking forward to the new space opening because it will be more modern and more adaptable and better for the students. The more we can do for them while they’re here at the School, the better.”
Her final tip was to make sure folk got their tickets for the street party and the final fashion show in June and a massive exhibition of students’ work in the dance hall upstairs where the shutters will be taken off to form a temporary gallery before the final shut down.
Students at Glasgow School of Art are preparing to say goodbye to the Vic Bar which closes, with adjacent Newbery Tower, in June.
Part of the campus in Renfrew Street, the Victoria cafe bar is where art and music collide and produce great things.
Third year students will host the last ever annual Fashion Show in the Vic on Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9 March. Textile design students who are based at Newbery, which is to be demolished, will create garments and the fabrics, using the wealth of information from the School’s archives.
Some of the unique pieces will be sold afterwards. Tickets are £7 per adults £5 concession and the funds raised are expected to enable the final year students to take their degree collection to London next year for the New Designers’ graduate event.
Alongside the show, an exhibition of work from first year fashion and textiles students will feature in the School’s Atrium Gallery from Tuesday 8 to Sunday 13 March.
The various parts of the school turned out of their present accommodation will re-locate in Skypark. But at the time of writing, the Vic’s new home had not been confirmed though there are high hopes it will be on Sauchiehall Street, near the School of Art.
Famous textile students include: Timorous Beasties, Jonathon Saunders, Louise Grey and Bebaroque.