Sunday, 14 August 2011
The Painting above is ‘Spring’ by William Kennedy, one of the Glasgow Boys who moved to Paisley
I saw my current hometown, Paisley, in a new light this weekend after visiting the local museum, owned by Paisley Arts Institute. The museum is currently housing an exhibition of paintings by artists collectively known as “The Glasgow Boys.” I’ve seen some of their work before in the Kelvingrove but was unaware that the group had close links to Paisley, with a couple of them living in the town and studying at Paisley’s School of Design in the late 1800s/early 1900s. The Paisley Arts Institute was formed in 1876 and provided a venue for sales of ‘The Glasgow Boy’s’ work. The Institute is still going strong, running various drawing competitions, and is recognised as a leading exhibiting body in Scotland.
Within the current collection on display were several paintings of old streets in Paisley; it was fun trying to figure out what now stands in place of long forgotten buildings. It struck me how vibrant Paisley must have been during this period, with the Coats family just one of the wealthy art collectors based there around that time. Also on display were the famous Paisley Pattern shawls. The Weavers were a well read and radical group, which included the poet Robert Tannahill, and were involved in the ‘Radical War’ of the 1920s.
It’s sad to now walk down Paisley High Street and be faced with rows of unoccupied shop fronts (and a burn out flat which the Council haven’t even bothered to board up.) It has such potential; the Abby is a beautiful building and the Oak Shaw area is really pretty. The local Arts Centre is a place I consciously want to support and utilise – I’ve been to a few plays/dance performances there and attended Life Drawing Classes during the year. Sometimes with Glasgow being so close by it’s easy to forget to look a bit closer to home. I hope the Council start to do more to encourage the growth of new business and invest more into the local community to keep the culture alive.