A certain radical chic is attached to the city, which is denied to artists based in London, who are in this respect rather tainted by their geographical proximity to the commercial infrastructure of the global art market. Glasgow’s status as a haven for young artists is, indeed, often counterpointed with London’s perceived decline as a consequence of the soaring cost of living, compounded by the painful irony that the colonization of any rundown area by a group of artists only pre-empts its co-option by property investors. Glasgow offers, or seems to offer, an alternative: a city of relatively low rents and no cliques, collaboration rather than competition, focused on artist-led projects rather than commercial representation. The distinction between scenes extends to aesthetic principles, too: whether accurately or not, Glasgow is loosely affiliated with a rougher, more abrasive style than that of London’s brasher, shinier successors to the
Indeed, London, so resented for the deleterious effects on the rest of the country of its gravitational appeal to the ambitious young, has recently suffered something akin to a small creative exodus. The influential and much-admired curator Sarah McCrory last year decamped from the capital to become director of Glasgow International, the biennial art festival that brings a forward-looking, thematically diverse list of international and Glasgow-based artists to locations across the city. She was this year followed by Paul Pieroni, who previously oversaw the experimental, avant-gardist exhibitions program at SPACE, London, and has now taken up residence as Senior Curator at Glasgow’s GoMA (the building is famously guarded by a bronze statue of the Duke of Wellington, on whose head is permanently perched a traffic cone—another symbol of Glasgow’s anti-establishmentarianism that risks descending into self-parody).