Glasgow is a city with a rich history of public art. The largest city in Scotland it has a popular mural trail with art funded by the council. First commissioning a mural in 2008. This eventually lead to the council launching it’s art trail in 2014. It has since created a rich legacy with some of the UK’s most eye catching murals.
- Splashes of Colour
- Core Artists
- Must See Murals to Visit in Glasgow
- Rogue One
- Rogue One – 'The Worlds Most Economical Taxi' – Mitchell Street (2012)
- Rogue One – 'Bubbles' – Renfield Street (2019)
- Rogue One – 'The Musician' – Sauchiehall Lane (2016)
- Rogue One – 'Wind Power' – Mitchell Street (2014)
- Rogue One – 'Thomas Muir' – Old Wynd Car Park (2022)
- Rogue One – 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' – The Clutha (2018)
- Rogue One and Ejek – 'Wonder Walls' – University of Strathclyde, George Street (2014)
- Yardworks Artists – University of Strathclyde, George Street (2023)
- Billy Connolly Murals
- Conzo & Globel
- James Klinge
Splashes of Colour
It’s all about creating “splashes of colour which brighten up lanes and streets” explains the mural trail website. “This helps make them more inviting for locals and tourists alike to visit and supports local businesses”. There are other places to see street at in Glasgow but the trail focuses on the city centre. Other places to explore include the Yardworks area of Galvanisers Yard and the areas of Govan and Partick.
Certainly it’s been something that Glasgow seems to have embraced. Across the city centre some great artworks can be seen. In particular from the likes of SMUG and Rogue One. Those two artists alone contribute a significant portion of the murals on the trail. They are supplemented with notable pieces from James Klinge and from Conzo & Globel. All Glasgow based artists, it’s a real local led effort across the city.
Must See Murals to Visit in Glasgow
This post focuses on murals across the city centre of Glasgow which seems to be centered on the works of key local artists. With this in mind we’ve separated some of the top artists to see and where to see them. The post does not include pieces created outside of the city centre itself. For this post the centre is the area between the M8 motorway to the east and north, the Clyde to the south and Glasgow Green to the west.
SMUG, also known as Sam Bates, is an Australian artist. For the past 18 years he has been living in Glasgow. He is known the world over for his hyper realistic murals. Often identified through his portraiture, Glasgow showcases a variety of his styles and his work. Certainly outside of Australia the city has the highest concentration of his work.
SMUG – ‘St Mungo’ – High Street (2016)
Quite possibly the most photographed piece of street art in Glasgow, if not the UK. SMUG’s re-interpretation of St Mungo is a mural that has captured the imagination. Shown in an anorak and red beanie, he is looking tenderly at a Robin which has perched on his finger.
The symbology of the bird is important to the story of St Mungo. His foster father St Serf had owned a pet Robin which was accidentally killed by monks in the monastery where they lived. Blaming the death on Mungo he is said to have taken the bird and restored it to life. To this day the bird and other symbols associated with the life of Mungo are a part of the Glasgow coat of arms. On his death Mungo was buried on site of today’s Glasgow Cathedral. He is a patron saint of the city.
SMUG – ‘St Enoch and Child’ – High Street
A companion piece to SMUG’s famous ‘St Mungo’ image just around the corner. This piece shows a woman cradling a baby whilst a Robin rests on her hand. The mural is a reinterpretation of Glasgow’s founding story. It shows a modern day St Enoch (also known as St Theneva) with her child, the boy who would become St Mungo (or St Kentigern). Along with her son, she is considered to be the patron saint of Glasgow.
SMUG – ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’ – Mitchell Street
A woman kneels down whilst looking through a magnifying glass. Her thumb and forefinger seemingly poised as if to pick something up from the ground. Painted onto the side of a building in the back alley of Mitchell Street, she is a wearing a golden necklace. Look carefully and you will see that it features the name of the artist, SMUG.
SMUG – ‘Fellow Glasgow Residents’ – Ingram Street car park
A huge sprawling mural overlooking the Ingram Street car park. This is a dedication to the animals and creatures who live in the city parks and who call the area of Glasgow home. It features badgers, hedgehogs, foxes, deer, elk, squirrels and highland cattle. There are also birds and lots of fungi and leaves from native trees.
SMUG – ‘The Swimmer’ – Kingston Bridge (2008)
Commissioned in 2008 for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Swimmer is the first mural to appear in what would become the mural trail. Painting once again by SMUG it features swimmers within a number of pool disciplines. The piece stretches along the underside of the Kingston Bridge and is next to the ‘Generation Green’ mural by the same artist.
SMUG – ‘Generation Green’ – Kingston Bridge (2021)
A collaboration between ‘Smug’ and Scottish Power. The mural has painted on the face of the Scottish Power electricity substation. Called ‘Generation Green’ it is a piece created to mark the legacy of COP26 in the city. It features a young child planting wind turbines amidst the rolling hills of the Scottish landscape.
Bobby McNamara is the artist more commonly known as Rogue One. He is quite possibly the most frequently encountered artist on the walls of the city centre of Glasgow. Works stem from his own designs to re-interpreting works from others and painting them large on the walls. Along with art agency ‘Art Pistol‘ he has been involved in some of the largest Glasgow street art projects.
Rogue One – ‘The Worlds Most Economical Taxi’ – Mitchell Street (2012)
Another of Glasgow’s most recognisable street murals. This piece on Mitchell Street shows a taxi being lifted into the sky by some helium filled balloons. It is a popular and much photographed piece. To make the artwork stand out on the brick, Rogue One also painted the bricks themselves alongside the taxi and the balloons.
Rogue One – ‘Bubbles’ – Renfield Street (2019)
A little girl blows bubbles across the street where a little pug dog seems to eagerly await. This piece on the little cobbled through passage of Renfield Street brightens up what has the potential to be a gloomy place. Spread over two walls, the pieces interact with each other in a joyful way.
Rogue One – ‘The Musician’ – Sauchiehall Lane (2016)
A piece inspired by the “unsung heroes” of Glasgow’s music scene. The Musician is a piece that is placed in an alley between two music venues. It’s a work that pays homage to the cities buskers. “Buskers are pretty popular in Glasgow,” he told the Skinny. “Glasgow’s well known for the buskers it has, so I thought it was a good idea to have a large-scale image of a busker just standing there with his guitar.”
Rogue One – ‘Wind Power’ – Mitchell Street (2014)
The mural on Mitchell Street features a girl blowing the seeds off a dandelion. As the seeds fly into the air, they turn into wind turbines. The piece is a homage to clean energies and the need for Scotland to be able to diversify it’s energy production.
Rogue One – ‘Thomas Muir’ – Old Wynd Car Park (2022)
The portrait of Thomas Muir can be found on the wall of the Old Wynd car park. A Glasgow born political pioneer he is often referred to as the father of Scottish democracy. The piece itself is close to where Muir’s father had a shop on High Street. It is also close to where Muir himself would have studied at Glasgow University. The piece was commissioned with the support of the Friends of Thomas Muir and the European Parliament.
Rogue One – ‘Charles Rennie Mackintosh’ – The Clutha (2018)
The mural to the influential artist and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh shows him overlooking the outside courtyard of the Clutha pub. Painted by Rogue One with Art Pistol Projects, it’s a piece that commemorates 150 years since his birth in Glasgow. Mackintosh studied and spent most of his career in the city. He is shown amidst a stained glass window which was an art form that he would become recognised for. The piece was funded by the Clutha Trust following a donation from the hotel Radission RED.
Rogue One and Ejek – ‘Wonder Walls’ – University of Strathclyde, George Street (2014)
A series of murals created on gable ends of the University of Strathclyde buildings. All celebrating key innovations with links to the university. Easily ranking as some of the tallest murals in Scotland, the works are a combination between Glasgow based artists Rogue One and Ejek. The murals were commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the universities Royal charter.
The Dansken Equatorial telescope is what is featured in the bottom half of this space themed mural. Once used to teach nautical astronomy. It was housed on the top floor of the formerly known Royal Technical College in the 1920’s. Now Strathclyde University is home to one of Europe’s largest space engineering research bodies. The top half of the mural signifies this modern progress in development space systems and satellites.
The Land Ship
A mural inspired by a photograph from 1913. It is a piece which tells the story of the ‘Land Ship’. A mock navigation bridge once built on the roof of the School of Navigation in the Royal College. The ‘land ship’ was actually a revolving platform with a Kelvin compass mounted on the top. It was used to teach students the principles of compass adjustment.
Along George Street on the walls of the university a number of Strathclyde people are celebrated. In particular some famous historical pioneers of the area are acknowledged whose innovations led to discoveries that still now have an impact. Notable amongst the portraits of the great and good is a more abstract representation of achievements. In particular Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert who received and honorary doctorate in 1988. A TARDIS is shown flying across the wall with a a scene from the series.
Students Past and Present
A celebration of students from the university from across the years. The piece shows a black and white image updated with some colour images featuring some students from today. This gable end overlooks North Portland Street.
Yardworks Artists – University of Strathclyde, George Street (2023)
Celebrating the UCI World Cycling championships the multi-coloured piece is a homage to retro cycling imagery. Old cycling jerseys, 90’s kids bikes and the bike owned by Scottish champion Graeme Obree also known as ‘Old Faithful’. The artwork was created by artists from Yardworks which is a major organiser of street art in Glasgow.
Billy Connolly Murals
In 2017 a series of murals were commissioned and unveiled in tribute to Billy Connolly for his 75th birthday. The artworks were each envisaged by three different contemporary artists and then realised on the walls by Rogue One and the team at Art Pistol Projects. The whole project was recorded and presented as a documentary called ‘Portrait of a Lifetime‘ on the BBC.
Jack Vettriano with Rogue One & Art Pistol – ‘Dr Connolly I Presume’ – Dixon Street (2017)
Based on a ‘piece to camera’ filmed in 1994, this is a mural which pays homage to Connolly’s television career. Based on an artwork from Jack Vettriano, he is a self confessed “huge fan” of the comedian. The pieces that the work is based on is from Billy Connolly’s ‘World Tour of Scotland’ series. It features Billy on a storm hit coast near John O’Groats. He was talking about waterfalls going up because of the wind.
Rachel McLean with Rogue One & Art Pistol – ‘Big Yin’ – Dixon Street (2017)
A unique vinyl artwork from Rachel McLean can be seen on the Gallowgate near Barrowland Park. A photograph of Connolly she dressed him up with make up and a garish day Bonnie Prince Charlie style outfit. A unique piece of wearable art she staged the work in the studio before agreeing on the final image for the mural. The piece is called ‘Big Yin’ which is Billy Connolly’s affectionate Glaswegian nickname. The finished costume took influence from his career and from some of his well known jokes.
John Byrne with Rogue One & Art Pistol – ‘Billy Connolly’ – Osborne Street (2017)
A friend of Billy’s for many years, John Byrne’s relationship with Billy Connolly goes back to the time when he was working in the Clyde shipyards. At that time Connolly formed a band called the Humblebums and Byrne created their album sleeves. He’s painted previous portraits of Connolly too with one in the Scottish Portrait Gallery. His work designed for Osbourne Street is simply called ‘Billy Connolly’.
Conzo & Globel
Conzo & Globel – ‘Good as Gold’ – Spring Court, Princes Square Shopping Centre (2019)
A Freddo chocolate bar in gold. The piece in a little side alley once cost a mere 10p but nowadays costs a lot more. It’s a good way of measuring inflation and if someone so wishes could be seen as a good way of measuring the economy.
Conzo & Globel – ‘Ar Ye Dancin’ – Argyle Street (2017)
The commemoration of a well known Glaswegian phrase. ‘Are Ye Dancin? Are Ye Askin?’ is painted either side of a little alley running off from Argyle Street leading to Sloans bar and restaurant. Accompanying the words are two images. The first a rendition of the Duke of Wellington statue complete with cone on his head and a pigeon on his shoulder. Opposite is a blue haired busker with a tunnock teacake style dress and a bottle of Irn Bru popping up over her shoulder.
A Glasgow based artist, James Klinge is known for his intricate stencil artworks both inside and outside of the studio. Often combining the spray can with a palette knife on which he adds texture, the resultant images give a unique look and feel.
James Klinge – ‘Study of a Woman in Black Series’
James Klinge has created a series of portraits of women in black which can be found across Glasgow. The idea of a woman in black is, according to James, something that he keeps coming back to. “I just want to focus on the portrait of the woman” says James. “But not really focus on what she was wearing or anything like that. Just let the viewer take control of whatever they want to see from the portrait”.
The Briggait, Bridgegate (2017)
St Andrews Street (2018)
Royal Exchange Square (2019)
Jame Klinge – ‘Portrait Gallery’ – The Arches, Glasgow Central Station (2019 – 2021)
Under the arches of Glasgow Central Station are a series of contemporary portraits from local artist James Klinge. Featuring everyday people they were created in stages from 2019 to 2021 and include a self portrait of the artist.
Stormie Mills – ‘The Lost Giant’ – Sauchiehall Street (2017)
Australian artist Stormie Mills ‘Lost Giant’ is part of a wider series of giant works across the world. A piece that is a reflection on a person moment when at 16 he found himself feeling lost in places he’d never been before. The piece is a remembering of that. “We all know what it feels like to be lost, physically or metaphorically, whether that be in a foreign city or your own” he said on his instagram.
Glasgow was visited between 4-6 August 2023 and was combined with a trip to see the Banksy ‘Cut and Run’ exhibition.