The Glasgow street art scene is quite unique and has some of the most extraordinary large scale murals I’ve ever seen.
You are more than likely to come across some colourful, vibrant and beautifully painted murals in the city of Glasgow as you walk around, though some are a bit hidden and you need to know where to find them.
Murals started appearing in Glasgow back in 2008 and by now they are an integral part of the city.
You hardly see any careless graffiti in Glasgow; large, beautiful, professional-looking murals dominate the scene.
That’s because the street art scene in Glasgow is a bit different from many other cities: It is mostly legal and regulated.
For the artists, this means the city commissions the artworks and funds their execution.
For residents and visitors, it means the walls are covered with top quality art that changes the look of buildings that would otherwise be grey and boring.
The city created a Mural Trail with a clear intention of using the art to rejuvenate the streets and public spaces.
This reminded me of how the mayor of Tirana, Albania, invited artists to repaint buildings in the city, turning it into a bright, colourful open-air gallery.
Taking a street art tour in Glasgow
I wanted to explore the city’s murals with a local guide, so I took a tour with Walking Tours in Glasgow. They run public and private themed tours around the city.
Our guide, Caron, is the kind of person you can tell really loves her job 😉
With great passion for both street art and Glasgow, she took us on a very interesting and entertaining tour to see a selection of the street art pieces in Glasgow.
The tour takes about 2 hours and we saw a lot of great art, plus one street artist in action!
One of the reasons I took a guided tour was because I wanted to understand the context of the artworks.
I knew that a local guided would be able to tell us stories, anecdotes and secrets that only locals know.
Along the way, our guide pointed out some other places of interest in Glasgow and was great at answering questions (it was only my second day in the city, so I had quite a few questions…)
Glasgow Street Art Highlights
Here are some of the works I loved most on the Glasgow street art tour:
The Glasgow Panda
Our tour started the Glasgow Panda. It’s right next to the Lighthouse, a design and architecture gallery worth checking out in the city centre.
The panda was created by the “Scottish Banksy” , Klingatron, who painted quite a few other murals in the city as well.
This beautiful and photo-realistic painting was made by Rogue-One in 2014.
It celebrates alternative energy sources, with the dandelion puff turning into windmills with a nice 3D effect.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
This huge mural of a woman by Smug (you can see the artist’s name on her necklace) is another photo-realistic piece that makes every passer by stop and stare at it for a moment.
Smug is an Australian artist living in Glasgow who created quite a few of its famous murals.
The mural was inspired by the movie by the same name, and I like the way it interacts with the street: If there’s a car parked under the woman’s fingers you can easily imagine her picking it up 😉
The entire painting was made using spray paint, which is very impressive if you look at the details.
The World’s Most Economical Taxi
This is another piece by Rogue-One (you can see his name in the number plate) and one of Glasgow’s Instagrammable spots.
It looks like a brick wall, but the bricks are actually painted.
The Glasgow born comedian (and musician, as I found out later in the tour) Billy Connolly is a local hero in Scotland, who has no less than 3 street art portraits dedicated to him in Glasgow.
These were made as birthday gifts for him by the city for his 75th birthday.
The first one we saw on the tour is called Dr Connolly I presume? by Rogue One.
The beer garden next to it was named Billy’s Beer Garden after him.
The second Billy Connolly piece has a line from one of his song, featuring some local slang that our guide had to translate for some of us…
The third one is on a bright pink wall near Barrowland Park, in which he’s dressed in an interesting outfit with references to his famous jokes.
This is one of my favourite pieces of street art, because it’s so vibrant and also because of strange contrast between the tiger and the buildings in the background.
This one is also by Klingatron and it’s right by the River Clyde, close to the South Portland Suspension Bridge.
Study of a Woman in Black #1 & #2
Unlike the big vivid murals, these two portraits of women painted by Klingatron are a bit more calm and somewhat introspective.
They’re located more or less around the corner from each other.
At this point our guide told us about prominent women in Glasgow’s history and that the two portraits were dedicated to the women of Glasgow.
Glasgow Street Artist in Action
Klingatron (James Klinge) is one of the artists who’s created quite a few of the murals in Glasgow, and our guide told us he was working on a new one.
We went to see the location where it was to be unveiled. When we arrived, we were happy to find the artist at work 🙂
Fellow Glasgow Residents – My Glasgow Street Art Favourite!
The grand finale of our street art tour and definitely one of the most impressive pieces of street art I’ve ever seen, is a massive mural by Smug covering an entire car park wall.
The theme of this work is the four seasons and the animals you can find in Glasgow (hence the title – they’re fellow residents).
You want to spend some time exploring this piece; it’s huge and full of small and beautiful details.
I loved the way the artist used the texture of the building in different places and made it look like nature was breaking through the wall.
At the end of the tour, our guide gave us some local tips about the city, as well as on where to find more murals.
More Glasgow Street Art
There are many more excellent murals in Glasgow worth discovering.
All the brilliant ones above are just a selection of the highlights and my personal favourites, but you’ll find more as you explore Glasgow.
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I’m grateful to Walking Tours in Glasgow for inviting me on the tour. All opinions are my own.