THERE’S a stunning new mural nearing completion in Glasgow. Scaling the full height of a building in the city’s High Street, the artist Smug has created a beautiful depiction of St Enoch cradling her baby, St Mungo, and there’s something quite breathtaking about the towering tenderness of the image.

It’s a beautiful idea. St Enoch is the mother of St Mungo, the patron saint of Glasgow, and the legend of St Enoch tells a story befitting a city which has a radical political undercurrent running through its people, with social justice at its heart.

While we refer to her as St Enoch, legend tells the story of a woman named Thaney (or Taneu or Theonia – it’s not clear which is correct) in the 6th century, who became pregnant after being raped. Upon hearing the news, her father attempted to kill her by having her thrown from a great height, but she miraculously survived and gave birth to Kentigern (St Mungo). When she later died, it’s said that the site of St Enoch Square in Glasgow city centre is where she was buried.

Smug’s mural gives me goosebumps in a world where sexual violence and shame are still so frighteningly prevalent. It gently screams strength, and it’s a wonderful thing to see.

However, for all the great and the good of this city and its people, it has its embarrassing moments, too. Contrast the St Enoch mural this week with the news that another piece of work across the city has sparked some controversy, and apparently a momentary lapse of reason in its designer, Alasdair Gray.

Hillhead Subway Station hosts the mural in question, which happens to feature 54-year-old former North Lanarkshire councillor David Fagan, a man who has since been convicted of sex offences. Fagan was caught after confessing to an undercover police officer, who was posing as a mother of three children, that he fantasised about incest and child abuse. It’s horrifying stuff. Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White – who is also depicted in the mural – has been calling for changes to be made to it, saying: “The work was commissioned by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport [SPT] and is owned by the public and should be removed or adjusted.”

Lanark author Gray, however, appears to disagree on a point of practicality.

“Someone asked at the time, I think it was Sandra White, for action to be taken and I said I don’t think anything should be done about it,” he said.

“SPT asked me and I told them the same. No one need know about it and I don’t intend publicising it.

“I don’t want anything done about it. If you had to go around changing everything connected to a controversial person there’d be nothing left in galleries.”

While I understand where Gray is coming from with these points, I think he’s calling it wrong on this occasion.

There has been an at-times intense public debate cropping up in recent years about art and monuments depicting history’s controversial characters and whether or not they should be removed from public consumption to avoid the risk of glorifying unsavoury behaviour.

Arguably this debate has taken a more frantic turn since the global upheavals of Brexit, the election of American President Donald Trump and the rise of the far Right across Europe. There’s a deep fear that the darkness of history is somehow being forgotten and that past tyrants have taken on fresh appeal.

However, the solution to a society forgetting the horrors of the past is hardly to remove reference to them. When it comes to public monuments in particular, it may cause deep discomfort to see controversial historical figures such as pro-slavery figures in the United States, whose statues became part of a removal campaign last year, given such a permanent, elevated status.

However, rather than tearing such things down, a more enduring response would be to push for a similar nod for other historical figures to make sure the whole story is told and publicly documented.

This is relevant for public figures who had a material impact in the course of history and culture, but it doesn’t apply to people like Fagan, who simply doesn’t deserve a place on a publicly-funded, modern mural. He is a convicted sex offender.

I hope Gray will have a change of heart and find a way to make a meaningful change to his subway creation. He is a highly respected figure in Scotland and while his stance on this is rooted in an understandable point of principle, in this case he should allow it to be overridden by a gesture for the public good.

Fagan will probably fade away into history with few people remembering his role in public life but the same cannot be said of someone of Gray’s stature.

Not too far away from Gray’s artwork is that powerful, magnificent mural of St Enoch, which celebrates the character of an incredible legend, and which projects the strength of survival rather than the cowardice of a character like Fagan.

Glasgow encompasses a strong spirit for the downtrodden and a small change from Gray would make a big statement.