Luxury Scotland - Glasgow


Glasgow - City of Culture

Glasgow - 20 Years As Scotland's City Of Culture
(1990 - 2010)

by Vivien Devlin

Artistic, Brash, Chic, Dynamic, Exuberant – it’s difficult to describe Glasgow of the 21st century.  Think Manhattan with a Scottish accent, brimming with fine architecture and the best fashion shopping and restaurants outside London.  Like Manchester and Liverpool, Glasgow has had to work hard on its image over recent decades to lose its inner city decay and industrial past.  The renaissance came in 1990 when voted European City of Culture and UK City of Architecture (1999) boosting its reputation as a top destination for leisure and business. 


Urban regeneration has restored Victorian buildings, tobacco warehouses have been transformed into a modern day Merchant City of designer boutiques, art galleries, bars and bistros. Stunning, state of the art exhibition, conference, concert and science centres now dominate the River Clyde. Glasgow does not follow fashion, she creates her own.  

The "Armadillo" at the SECC

National Geographic Magazine declared Glasgow as “the coolest city in the UK”.   And just to be clear -  that accolade doesn`t refer to climate but in recognition of its sense of individual cutting edge style.  While Edinburgh may boast the largest Arts festival on the planet, the emphasis in Glasgow promotes a varied cultural calendar year round. Awarded the accolade Unesco City of Music in 2008 for its musical heritage, the city is home to Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra with other world class performances at the Glasgow Concert Hall and vibrant music scene from live Rock, Pop and Jazz concerts to traditional Celtic music festivals.  A wide range of Scottish and international drama and dance also takes place at venues such as Theatre Royal, Citizens, King’s, CCA and Tramway. Whenever you plan to visit, there will be a wide choice of entertainment on offer for all ages and taste.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The Visual Arts is an important aspect to the rich cultural feast on offer.  The annual Glasgow Art Fair (usually in early April) features leading British galleries, dealers and artists while dozens of galleries and museums offer a treat for art lovers including Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, The Gallery of Modern Art and the Burrell Collection. 

William Burrell was born on 9 July 1861. His father and grandfather were involved in the shipping industry which Burrell joined in 1875 and, on his father's death, took over the management and successful development of the firm. With a small fortune in his pocket, he took early retirement and devoted the rest of his life to being an art collector, with particular interest in Chinese ceramics, tapestries, silver, bronzes, Persian rugs and furniture. 

Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park

In 1944, Sir William Burrell (a true cultural philanthropist like fellow-Scot Andrew Carnegie) presented almost his entire collection to the city of Glasgow.  The specially-designed Burrell Collection in Pollok Country Park presents around 9,000 treasures ranging from Ancient Greece and Egypt, Medieval and Islamic art to contemporary paintings by Degas and Cézanne and sculpture by Epstein and Rodin. Entry is free and the house is surrounded by attractive parkland.

William Burrell once owned a magnificent Townhouse in Devonshire Gardens. More recently converted into the luxury hotel, One Devonshire Gardens, this elegant West End property is now the smart and stylish Hotel du Vin. In 1892 Burrell commissioned a prestigious designer to depict a favourite poem in stained glass. After major renovations and enhancements to the hotel were completed in 2007, this magnificent window was once again revealed.

Glasgow School of Art

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1968-1928) was Scotland's greatest architect and regarded as one of the world's most forward thinking artistic designers.  Mackintosh had far fewer commissions than his contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright but with a few bold and innovative buildings - Glasgow School of Art and Hill House among them - he had a profound influence on art and architecture at the turn of the twentieth century. Like Wright, Mackintosh created the complete package right down to the furniture and fabrics; he was a master of light, colour and space, bringing the outside to the inside influenced by Japanese simplicity and themes from nature. As a pioneer of modernism, Mackintosh was central to the Arts and Crafts movement. 

The legacy of Mackintosh’s distinctive architecture is proudly preserved in the famous Glasgow School of Art, churches, private houses and Tea Rooms in and around the city. 

The Hunterian Art Gallery houses the interior of his former Florentine Terrace home, as well as changing exhibits from the Mackintosh collection. Kelvingrove Art Gallery shows examples of his decorative arts, glasswork, ceramics and furniture. Stop off for lunch or tea at one of the two Willow Tea Rooms which feature recreations of his charming Edwardian interior designs. The Sauchiehall Street property has a Gallery and the feminine Room de Luxe with its silver furniture and leaded glass work which was in its heyday so exclusive customers willingly paid a penny more for their cup of tea.  In the Buchanan Street Willow, the White Dining Room is filled with elegant high backed chairs and bright interior while the Chinese Room is dark and atmospheric. The Willow welcomes visitors to experience classic Afternoon Tea in the same romantic manner and stylish interiors as enjoyed 100 years ago.

A House for an Art Lover

In 1901 Charles and his wife Margaret entered a German competition to design a House for an Art Lover in a thoroughly modern, fresh and innovative style. Their design won a special prize for “pronounced personal quality” while the critic Hermann Muthesius commented on its “absolutely original character”.

As a collaboration between Glasgow City Council and Glasgow School of Art, Mackintosh’s design for A House for an Art Lover was finally completed nearly a century later in 1996 as an international centre for the visual arts and a permanent creation of furnished rooms by contemporary artists based on the original designs. With an Art Lovers’ Café, gift shop and programme of music events, this is a major visitor attraction in Bellahouston Park. The great value Mackintosh Trail day ticket (£16) covers public transport (including bus to Hill House at Helensburgh) and entry to all properties. 

Fashionistas will want to visit the Scotland Street School Museum to see an exhibition of forty glamorous screenprints from the early 20th century capturing the essence of stylish Parisian chic. These rare period designs of colourful gowns and costumes by French artists George Barbier and Charles Martin were published in the leading Vogue-style magazine of the day, “Journal des Dames et des Modes” which was launched in June 1912. The fashion magazine was an immediate bestseller with three editions each month. A La Mode 1912 – 1914  runs until 17th October.

Trongate 103

20 years after Glasgow was European City of Culture, there continues to be a thriving development of exciting new galleries and arts events taking place. Trongate 103 in a former six storey Edwardian warehouse in the Merchant City district, is an innovative collaboration of eight arts organisations including Glasgow Print Studio, photography, art, film and media companies. With artists’ studios, workshops and gallery space, visitors have the opportunity to view the creative process and purchase artwork. 

Later in the Summer 2010, the former Fishmarket in the Merchant City, The Briggait will be the new home for a group of visual artists and cultural organisations. There will be a series of artists’ studios, creative industry units, public gallery, a refurbished 1873 courtyard as well as a café overlooking the River Clyde. Future workspace will incorporate dance, circus and street arts.  This £6.5 million project is part of the Council’s Housing the Visual Arts Strategy to support Glasgow’s architectural heritage and develop contemporary art and culture..

Clare McLeod from Intermezzo

Intermezzo is an inspiring arts and tourism company arranging private tours and events around Glasgow such as at 5 star Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum which offers an eclectic range of exhibits, natural history, armoury, aircraft, historical ephemera and fine art.  The current exhibitionPioneering Painters – The Glasgow Boys 1880-1900(until 27 September 2010) is an important retrospective of the work of The Glasgow Boys – including James Guthrie, EA Hornel, George Henry, Joseph Crawhall and Arthur Melville - a group of artists living and working in the West of Scotland who were influenced by the French artist Jules Bastien-Lepage.

There are 150 paintings drawn from European and American collections depicting impressionist landscapes, rural and city life based on their travels.  Night at the Museum tours take guests around Kelvingrove in the quiet of the evening.

One of the highlights to see is usually Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross but this painting is about to go on loan to the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia to form part of a Dali exhibition for six months, when Titian’s Diana and Actaeon is displayed in its place.

Pollok House is a prime National Trust of Scotland property set in beautiful parkland and the former home of the Stirling Maxwell family. Intermezzo offers private evening tours of the Spanish art collection and the opportunity to host a dinner with your own butler and staff. A taste of aristocratic luxury living indeed! 

The Gallery of Modern Art

Bang in the city centre near George Square, The Gallery of Modern Art shows a changing programme of brand new and exciting visual art and sculpture.  Until 27th September, a video installation Tomorrow by internationally renowned artist Fiona Tan, shows an atmospheric portrait of a group of schoolchildren that challenges assumptions about identity, race and ethnicity.

This is the first solo exhibition of Tan’s work in Scotland and can form part of an Intermezzo evening or daytime tour.  Intermezzo has recently joined Love Luxury Glasgow, a collaboration between high quality independent Scottish companies offering services within the City to the discerning traveller.  

For addresses, opening times and contact details.

Visitor information

Intermezzo private tours


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