As I photographed street art in the vicinity of the Lighthouse during my previous trip, my magpie instinct urged me to follow Glasgow city centre mural trail further – this time to visit ‘The Five Faces’ panels by Smug under Caledonian Railway Bridge on Clyde Street. Smug’s colourful and funny artwork painted on the pillars elevates the industrial grudge of the major railway bridge leading to Glasgow Central. For a photographer it was a joy to see how convincingly the artist rendered the light patterns, some from the daylight on the edges of his series, some from the street lamps above, falling on each of his quirky characters (I know, we photographers are a peculiar bunch but most of our trade is based on observing light!).
Incidentally, my photo walk brought me to the highlight point of the Merchant City public art trail – Ian Hamilton Finlay’s controversial carvings from Plato’s Republic on the granite piers of the disused older railway bridge. The remains of a bridge that leads nowhere reminding of the greatness of the Victorian economic achievement or of its historically inevitable decline in the modern era? I tried to frame these odd still standing pillars squarely and symmetrically to play on this ambiguity.
Yet, the impressive repetitive Italianate granite piers under the new (1905) Caledonian Bridge, once the widest river bridge of this kind in the country, evoke a sense of solidity, dependability and purpose. And, with those water light bleaks travelling on the arches and pillars, perhaps, just a little, of solitude and history – despite frequent runners passing by.
The textured industrial latticework of the steel girders spanning the bridge appealed to me visually, as its reflections in the waters of the river Clyde. Magical.