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Glasgow – It’s so Stylish!

Posted: April 15th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

In the pub last Sunday we found a fantastic mock-tourist guide to Glasgow. It’s so well-designed and understated that we spent the first 5 minutes outraged at the latest Council-sponsored tack.

Foreigners might be unfamiliar with the laughable Scotland with style rebranding / gentrification campaign underway here, much to the amusement of your actual Glaswegians. A black & white photo campaign, much vapid posturing and no recognisable link to everyday life, it’s the public face of an attempt to remake the city as a short-break / conference destination. Thus we have litter wardens dressed as police, sub-Bladerunner video advertising and bouncers repelling the goths from steps at the back of a famous bookchain. A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.

What The Caravan Gallery have done with their garish and glossy Glasgow – It’s so stylish! is skewer those pretensions quite nicely while at the same time celebrating a more “authentic” (yuk) Glaswegian style. Instead of dribbling on about modern architecture they say “Glasgow has a lot of different buildings”, under a photo of the Norfolk St flats and the accompanying slum-clearance survivor. Not pretty but very Glasgow.

The whole thing could have been just a bitter joke but there’s a sense of affection for the people of Glasgow. No resort to the easy neds-&-knives clichés, the targets of the satire are them as need their pretensions punctured: “A dead conifer adds the finishing touch to this ‘aspirational lifestyle’ balcony” of 1.5 square metres. While at the same time, they’ve picked out the scruffy, unashamed but under threat areas like Paddy’s Market: “This is not ordinary soup, this is Hell’s Kitchen soup”.

Try and get hold of a copy (maybe from these guys), it’ll tell you more about Glasgow than a hundred billboards or gritty exposés.

Stan Tontas

Stan lives in Glasgow.

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