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Artists get to work on creating new look Subway

GLASGOW'S Subway network is to have works by leading Scottish artists at each of its 15 stations.

HIGH NOTE: Musician Paul Buchanan, noted for his songwriting, has been commissioned to produce a work, though it is unclear what form it will take.
HIGH NOTE: Musician Paul Buchanan, noted for his songwriting, has been commissioned to produce a work, though it is unclear what form it will take.

Expanding on the commission of the large public mural at Hillhead station by the artist and writer Alasdair Gray, eventually every station will be adorned with an artwork from an array of leading painters, sculptors and musicians.

The next station to receive an artwork will be Kelvinhall, also in the city's west end, which will house a new artwork by the lead singer of one of Scotland's most critically-acclaimed bands, The Blue Nile.

In the latest commission from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, which runs the underground network, Paul Buchanan is to make a piece of art to adorn the west end station as part of a plan by the underground operators to have a work of art in every station in the city.

The plan has been designed not only to make the revamped stations more attractive, but also to highlight Glasgow's success in contemporary art.

SPT has been in talks with a number of leading Scottish artists to have artworks in the 15 stations, with rumoured discussions with a series of leading artists, although no other commissions have been confirmed.

However, the plans are not without opposition and controversy and are revealed on the back of a local campaign against the removal of the Greek Thomson and Rennie Mackintosh pastiche signage at Cessnock station on the south side.

As revealed in The Herald this week, political heavyweights including Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Green co-convenor Patrick Harvie had waded into the 'Save Cessnock Sign' campaign, which locals say was specifically designed to fit in with its individual surroundings and listed buildings, something the new generic branding will not do.

It has also emerged that the Victorian carriage which adorns a wall in the Buchanan Street station is to be removed as part of the £4.2 million revamp.

Gordon Barr is an aficionado of Glasgow's history and heritage and runs the Scottish Cinemas website.

He said: "Cessnock is just the start. The plans for Buchanan Street include the removal of the original and historic train carriage that's welcomed passengers to the station, and given them a flavour of the past, for decades.

"The old carriage and its history, displayed here in a prime position in the city centre and not hidden away in storage, has a level of impact to count as culture enough.

"No one denies that this modernisation is very welcome, and very overdue. But when the underground was last overhauled, the people running it went out of their way to celebrate the past of the system, not hiding all of it behind the shiny and new like the current plans seem to do."

Buchanan is noted for his songwriting in albums such as Hats and A Walk Across the Rooftops. It is unclear what form his artwork for the station, which has around 650,000 customers a year, will take, although it will be in place by the end of this year. Every station should have its modernisation, including artwork, completed within the next five to six years.

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