Monday, 18 October 2010

Down in Glasgow's old East End


Some photographs from a brief tour of the High Street/Saltmarket area of Glasgow - where I took a group of First Year Art, Design and Architecture students, whose forthcoming collaborative project is to be located there. The students have been asked to design a theatre set for an imaginary production sited in the area - so the idea was to get a sense of its mis-en-scene. We started with a walk through Tontine Lane, where Douglas Gordon's 'Empire' sign is located - one of my favourite pieces of contemporary environmental art in the city. The location is perfect - deserted, uneasy and with just the right sense of suspense. It's as though it's just waiting for a film noir to happen. Nice applique 'grafitti', too (so much better than the sprayed-on stuff):


Next, we went to examine Green's barber shop, nearby, complete with lovely 1930s and 60s signage:


And so to Parnie Street, home of a range of specialist retailers:




The Central Cafe on Saltmarket, still with 1930s vitrolite sign - love the acute over the 'e' and diamond-shaped full stop:


The Empire Bar offers the possibility of 15 hours of solid drinking at moderate cost to wallet, if not health, while a nearby Criminal Defence Lawyer offers a 24-hour service to Glasgow's cosmopolitan diversity:


DVD hire shop with hand-painted sign - a perfect blend of craft skills and the latest technology:

At the Nautical College, one can practice lifeboat drill on the latest Schaat-Harding fast-launch type of lifeboat:

Sign of gentrification nearby:

A Pawnbroker with a nice pictogram and a corner sign made from three plumber's ball-cocks of different types (below left) and a generous printing offer (below right):


Betty Mullen's long-established market - a proud family business, evidently:


Finally, I took the students for tea and coffee at the (very intact) Val D'Oro Cafe in London Road - a symphony of slightly worn 1930s and 60s fixtures and fittings. The facade is a delight - all Vitrolite and Festival of Britain-style lettering. Originally, the cafe belonged to the Beltrami family, we were told, but they have long-since moved into the more lucrative business of Criminal Defence Law.



Details of the servery (above) and whizzy formica-clad seating booths (below).


A self-portrait in a mirrored Vitroflex-clad column (above) and the OAP menu (below).



An impressively calorific display (above) - the students and me (below).


The Val D'Oro's rather natty menus:

My cup of tea.

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