To the lighthouse

The lifelike statue stayed etched in my mind.
To the lighthouse

HYDERABAD: The moment we got down from the train in Glasgow (we were coming from Dundee, after attending the inauguration of V&A Dundee), I could hear the name of Mackintosh buzzing everywhere: the next two days we breathed and slept only Mackintosh. There’s a reason for this: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Glasgow born architect, designer and artist, he is renowned internationally as one of the most creative figures of the early 20th century. Glasgow is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of this local cultural icon with events across the city throughout 2018. Glasgow is the best place in the world to view the genius of his work which can be witnessed at The Glasgow School of Art, The Mackintosh House, The Willow Tea Rooms and Queen’s Cross Church to name but a few. But first, we headed to The Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse
Sara Manavian, a young lady guide who fell in love with Glasgow and settled down there narrated the stories of Mackintosh and The Lighthouse with gusto: designed by Mackintosh in the late 19th century for the Herald newspaper, the place is now a centre for architecture and design. It is a vibrant place with a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue in the heart of Glasgow, and acts as a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland.

The exhibition by UK’s leading milliners, Glasgow based William Chambers featured some hats that are considered works of art (they were quite cool!). In another stunning exhibition, some of the best pieces of furniture from Hill House in Helensburgh, Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece, were displayed. I fell in love with some of those Mackintosh chairs! Going around four floors of multi-purpose spaces, we also saw some art installations: while some were weird, some made a bit of sense. Watched a visitor playing the piano placed in the patio: though brief, it was pleasing. Listening to a few brilliant strains of music in the busy lighthouse calmed the nerves and took my mind away from Mackintosh for a few moments. By the end of the tour Sara had tears in her eyes: her passion and love for Glasgow, Light House, and Mackintosh moved us.


The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is an interesting neoclassical building in Royal Exchange Square in the heart of Glasgow city centre. An 18th century building, it was originally the townhouse of a wealthy tobacco baron from Glasgow who made his fortune through the triangular slave trade: the building has undergone a series of different uses and ultimately ended up in 1996 as a world-class art museum and a place for people to gather, to learn and to share ideas with artworks from around the world. We met with a member of the gallery’s staff who took us around.

Like in most of the modern art galleries there were huge art installations that were difficult to fathom, with pieces of cloth hanging, broken stones strewn around etc. One needs an eye to see what is not seen and appreciate the inner meaning. I have neither, so I gave up after a while. But it was certainly an interesting place: some kids were trying their hand at painting and artwork.

In front of the gallery, on the Queen Street pavement, stands an equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, the statue usually has a traffic cone on its head; for many years the authorities regularly removed cones, only for them to be replaced. It is said the jauntily placed cone represents the city’s light-hearted attitude to authority.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Glasgow is renowned for its remarkable museum offering and is also proud to have one of Europe’s largest civic art collections available to view completely free of charge. In the past few decades, Scotland’s biggest city has emerged as a cultural powerhouse. The River Clyde, which once ferried tobacco traders towards the city, now flows past smoking-hot artists’ studios and museums, which have appeared in rejuvenated docks.

We met the curator of Kelvingrove Museum and learned a few facts. It is Glasgow’s principal museum with a permanent exhibition: it has 22 themed, state-of-the-art galleries displaying an astonishing 8,000 objects. The collections are extensive, wide-ranging and internationally significant. They are organised into two halves: Life and Expression.

The Life galleries represent natural history, human history and prehistory. The Expression galleries include the fine art collections. The important collection of French 19th century paintings includes works by Monet, Gauguin and Renoir. Further highlights are Rembrandt’s ‘Man in Armour’, ‘Christ and the Adulteress’ by Titian and Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’. Scottish art includes paintings by the Scottish Colourists and the Glasgow Boys.

But what impressed me most was a 19th-century marble sculpture “Motherless” by George Lawson. It is the statue of a gloomy father holding his unhappy daughter close to his heart cuddling her to comfort – a sad child finding a bit of solace in her father’s arms. It was very touching and I stood there for a long time, looking at the figurine from all angles. I was told the statue has always been a favourite at Kelvingrove. The girl’s mother had died in childbirth or during a Victorian epidemic, leaving her father to look after her. The lifelike statue stayed etched in my mind.
Fact file:
(The author is a documentary filmmaker and travel writer; she blogs at

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