Monday, 18 November 2019

Glasgow - Linda McCartney Retrospective November 2019.

The main reason for our trip to Glasgow was to see the Linda McCartney Retrospective at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is situated in the beautiful Kelvin Grove Park. But Glasgow has many treasures to enjoy we decided to take the Motorhome and stop at the Red Deer Village Holiday Park at Stepps where a 12 minute walk from site will take you to Cumbernauld Road and the 38c bus stop, from there its approximately a 30 minute ride to Glasgow city centre where you can get a bus to any part of the city and its surrounds.

Red Deer Village is exceptional well organised, with clean and warm facilities along with some very friendly and helpful staff. The park is over 40 years old but was upgraded after two brothers purchased the site in 2004 and in fact has been improved since we last stayed there in 2015. 26 hard standing pitches with electric, with some surrounded by grass, are offered. Also available are pitches especially for tents.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is one of Scotland’s most popular free attractions. It houses 22 Gallery’s plus a large temporary exhibition area sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland and this is where the major retrospective photographic Exhibition is displayed. Curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney it feature iconic, familiar and recognisable, names from the 1960s alongside more intimate and emotional work including some great personal family photos from her time on the farm near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsular.

At the back of the Campbeltown Museum in Kintyre is a sheltered inner garden that is dedicated to the memory of Lady Linda McCartney. Following 56-year-old Linda’s death from breast cancer in 1998 her friends and admirers locally decided that her memory and contribution to Kintyre, where her ashes now rest, should be marked in a permanent way. Following the formation of a small charitable trust this quiet haven for rest and contemplation was created. The centrepiece of this lovely garden is a bronze statue donated by Paul McCartney.

Also included in the retrospective are Linda’s diaries, which are displayed in public for first time, her cameras along with Polaroid’s and interestingly contact sheets that display her creativity and techniques. 

This exhibition is well worth a visit and is open to the public until 12th January 2020. We did have a look around the rest of the museums 22 gallery’s but its far too comprehensive to see everything in just one day; a return visit is certainly on the cards.

Cedar Room.

Being members of the National Trust we do try and make the most of it by visiting their properties. Pollok House, which is situated in Pollok Park off Pollokshaws Road Glasgow is a very special place for the Trust as it was here in the Cedar Room in 1931 the then owner of the house at the time, Sir John Stirling Maxwell, met with various other dignitaries and suggested forming a charitable trust too help preserve what they deemed important properties and areas of land. Thus the National Trust for Scotland was formed and describes itself as ‘the conservation charity that protects and promotes Scotland natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations” Although the Trust has been criticised for being very class based, both the park and the house is available for the benefit of the citizens of Glasgow and of course visitors like ourselves.

Basement Corridor.

The Original Kitchen Area.

The China Closet.

Starting our tour of the house in the basement corridor meant that we could have our coffee and scones before we started our tour of this rather grand property. The basement in fact was the engine room of the house where 48 members of staff would carry out their daily chores to ensure the well being of their ‘superiors and betters’. But one must admit that Sir John, although a Tory MP, devoted his time to public service in some very worthwhile ways, perhaps the unionist were a decent bunch in those days?
Rear Elevation.

The house was built in 1752 to replace an older property. After the Sterling’s inherited the house and estate in 1865, Sir John, the last of the family to live there, expanded the house into what we see today. 

The Music Room.

The Morning Room.

Intricate Plasterwork.

There is truly a lot to see over the three stories open to the public and each has a volunteer to answer any questions you may have. With its original furniture and art work there’s something of interest for everyone. One of the paintings we did want to see was the famous painting The Lady in a Fur Wrap painted by, we assumed at the time, the Spanish painter El Greco. We were told that this work was away for detailed technical examination in Madrid. It was reported in the following days National newspaper that the painting was not by El Greco after all but another Spanish contemporary artist Sanchez Coello proving that you can fool even the rich and famous.

Part of the 7000 book Library.

My own favourite area was the Library that occupied the whole of the eastern pavilion and was one of the areas added by Sir John. It is said to be one of the finest 20th century private libraries in Scotland. When Sir John arrived at Pollok House he found nearly 3000 books in the current Morning Room. In order to accommodate a further 4000 books from his father’s library the extended area was built.

Our visit to the house and grounds was on a particularly nice day so we able to take advantage of one of the many seating area in the gardens to have our picnic. It’s just over a mile from the main road through the estate to the house but well worth the walk to see the highland cattle grazing within the beautiful countryside. Another of the 130 properties in Scotland we can tick off our list.

Our next day out was a very pleasant surprise. You would imagine that a visit to a Glasgow tenement house would not be that exciting - how wrong can you be?

Just to explain with the help of the wee guidebook. The tenement is the traditional form of urban housing in Scotland, but unlike in England it does not have the ugly connotations synonymous with the word ‘slum’. The word originally meant a holding or plot of land but by the mid 19th century it had acquired its present meaning - a stone building with two or more stories with one or more dwelling units on each floor with a common entrance and staircase. The houses were built for differing social classes. Working class tenements had only two rooms and perhaps one which was known as a ‘single end’ The middle class were catered for with two rooms plus a kitchen and bathroom. Affluent families had much larger flats with four, five or even more rooms. Today even a small tenement house would start at around £350k!

On the first floor of 145 Buccleuch Street Glasgow lies, what the National Trust call “a real time capsule” which has four rooms, a bathroom, parlour, kitchen and bathroom all leading off a lovely square hallway.  For 50 years this house was the home of shorthand typist Miss Agnes Toward whose life was very normal and it’s this normality that makes her story so interesting. She kept all sorts of things including household bills, rent receipts, wartime leaflets, newspaper cuttings as well as personal papers and letters. Visiting this house offers us a uniquely detailed insight into everyday life in the first half of the 20th century.

In 1959, at the age of 73, Miss Toward retired from work. She was taken into hospital in 1965 with dementia and spent the next ten years there. Continuing to pay her rent the house remained empty all this time and with no care deteriorated. Thanks to the niece of Miss Toward church elder, the house and furniture were kept in basically the condition we see today. Anna Davidson bought the flat along with the complete contents and decided to preserve this valuable piece of social history. Davidson sold the property to the Scottish National Trust in 1982 and therefore preserving it for future generations.

Having traveled for three days backward and foreword by public transport we decided that our last day would be spent local to the camping park. Taking a walk along the footpath passed Frankfield Loch and onto Hogganfield Loch on a beautiful afternoon was a grand way to finish our entertaining 5-night stay at Stepps.

Don't you just love Glasgow.