This week Maria and I were in Glasgow giving us the chance to revisit the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, one of Scotland’s most visited attractions.
I have previously written a photographic study on one painting from their permanent collection – The Druids – Bringing in the Mistletoe, a collaboration between George Henry and Edward Atkinson Hornel, two of the central members of The Glasgow Boys, a loose-knit group of Glasgow-based artists who reached a creative peak in the 1880s and 1890s.
I was hoping to see this awe-inspiring painting again, but unfortunately it was out on loan to a Swedish gallery. However, perhaps it was not so unfortunate, since in its place the second collaboration by Henry and Hornel, The Star in the East.
Following on from the theme of Druids, this second painting is Christian, and depicts an angel announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. Here is a photo of me next to the painting so that you can gauge its scale.
The Glasgow Boys were revolutionary in their age, and have a permanent gallery for their works, and especially as a number of these depict local scenes from Galloway, where I was born, it was a treat to be able to spend time again in this particular part of the museum.
Another painting which is always dramatic to visit is Salvador Dali’s Christ of St. John on the Cross. This painting is displayed in its own mini gallery, and I also include some of the additional notes and sketches, which discuss the way in which Dali was inspired not only by a number of dreams, but also by quantum physics.
To visit the Kelvingrove is to plunge into the kaleidoscope of human creativity, ingenuity, spirituality, science as well as natural history, nature and ecology. The museum is split into two halves, one being Expression and the other being Life. There are 22 galleries in total, with each gallery being dedicated to a single theme, for example the exploration of colour, Scottish identity in art, industrial design.
What is innovative is the way in which each gallery features ‘story displays’ which focus on one specific piece of art, and which encourage visitors to spend time exploring the depth, meaning or perhaps ambiguity of that particular piece.
So for example here is the booth created to explore the story of The Brior Rose or The Sleeping Beauty by Walter Crane, 1905.
The Kelvingrove is one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions for good reason. It is exceptionally well supported and curated, and will keep visitors engaged all day, including young children who are able to explore works of art displayed at ground level so that they can easily view them.