Oh no – Smug‘s delightful Argyle Street Gallery mural is being removed as the building block demolition work has started!
I first fell in love with his work when I photographed “The Five Faces“, a series of huge photo-realistic portraits under Caledonian Railway Bridge a few years ago. I passed by that location recently – those murals are now completely gone and the bridge is in the process of a long-term reconstruction.
It is the eventual destiny of most street art pieces on Glasgow Mural Trail as they are often painted on derelict or vacant properties. Some buildings will be demolished. The abandoned shops will be rehabilitated and reopened, while the murals on the boards used to disguise neglect will be thrown to the tip.
I welcome urban regeneration but I do miss the murals as well.
Argyle Street Gallery mural by Smug is an extensive work that runs around the corner into York Street. It starts with a series of noticeboards and then transforms into an imaginary gallery, complete with photo-realistic figures of the thieves trying to steal the “masterpieces”, gallery visitors, shoppers, passers by and a peeing dog.
The Gallery honours and irreverently reinterprets famous paintings, among which are Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Edvard Munch’s Scream, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Hokusai’s Wave and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (or Mona Lassie holding a can of IronBru, Glasgow-style).
The mural is now sectioned off by safety gates and red traffic barriers. A giant red skip appeared outside Munch’s Scream. Concrete blocks removed from the inside ares of the building blocks are stacked for disposal.
I suspect that as photographers we document street art being put out for public enjoyment more often than the process of it being discarded.
I wanted to show Smug’s pieces “behind the bars” and how a section of Robbie’s face went missing. I captured a demolition workman back to back with Smug’s imaginary man striding with his coat over his elbow. I tried to blend real passers with the graffiti ones, amid genuine vehicles. A small group of young musicians and pedestrians was waiting at the lights to cross York Street – they felt to me as Smug’s Gallery last spectators.
It was my way of saying goodbye. Though photographs…
If you still want to see the mural, hurry up – there is not a lot of time left as those Dem-Masters work fast!