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City Centre Contemporary Art Trail

Glasgow's contemporary art scene shows Glasgow at its edgy and energetic finest, with some of the city's best pieces of art found in the city's streets! Check out a walkable trail of 14 public artworks, designed by Scottish and global artists. You can download an audio guide to the route by visiting the City Centre Contemporary Art Trail website.


A close-up of the traingular mirrored mosaic that sits above the Gallery of Modern Art's signage. The mosaic includes colourful designs of a bird, bell, tree, fish and St Mungo. Credit: Glasgow Life

In the heart of the city in Royal Exchange Square is the Gallery of Modern Art. Look up and see one of the most colourful representations of the city's crest (the bird, the tree, the bell, the fish). Inspired by the city's patron saint, St Mungo and his story, the triangular mirror mosaic was designed by Niki de Saint Phalle.


Across two paving stones are the engraved words 'Along the way, come what may, somewhere, somehow'. An engraved line swirls between the wordsCredit: Image courtesy of The Artist. Photo: Eimear Coyle.

Be sure to also look down at the entrance of the Gallery of Modern Art so as not to miss the wise words by artist Lawrence Weiner, which are engraved on the stone steps. The New York artist, who is credited as one of the pioneers of conceptual art, created the piece of art to spark conversation into what a public art gallery is and how it is used.

Homeless Jesus

A life-sized sculptor of a person lying on a bench completely covered by a sculpted blanket. All you can see of the person is their feet, which have markings on them.Credit: Image courtesy of The Artist. Photo: Eimear Coyle.

The Homeless Jesus life-sized sculpture found in Nelson Mandela Place was created by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz to help shine a light on the homeless epidemic across the world. Schmalz's original Homeless Jesus can be found at the University of Toronto, with 100 copies of his work in place in global locations, including in the heart of Glasgow.

Chookie Burdies

See how many birdies you can spot atop of lampposts (there are 300 in total) whilst walking in the Garnethill area of the city. Each bird has been positioned uniquely by Glaswegian artist Shona Kinloch.

The Clyde Clock

The humourous Scottish sculptor, George Wyllie created The Clyde Clock, playing with the phrase, 'time flies'. It is positioned at Buchanan Bus Station, where many people will have run past it, late for a bus home!

MhtPothta / Maternity

Another playful sculpture by George Wyllie can be found at Rottenrow Gardens at the University of Strathclyde on the former site of a maternity unit where many Glaswegians entered the world.



A colourful pathway with alternating coloured lines, each with text on them naming a band and date. For example, Blondie 19.11.1998Credit: Untitled, (2014), Jim Lambie. Courtesy of The Artist and The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow. Photo: Stephen Hosey.

Commissioned as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme, Untitled is an album pathway created by Glaswegian Turner Prize nominee, Jim Lambie. Each line features the name and date of an act that performed at the city's legendary Barrowland Ballroom, giving the impression of browsing someone's record collection.

Slow Down

A close-up view of concrete ground with three lines. There is a yellow line and a blue and white line which intersect.Credit: Slow Down, (2014), Jacqueline Donachie. Courtesy of The Artist and Patricia Fleming, Glasgow. Photo: Eimear Coyle.

Slow Down is a permanent piece of artwork found on London Road in the city's east which remembers the mass cycling performance that took place in the city as part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. The performance in 2014 saw colourful lines appear all over the city as 100 cyclists set off each with a handmade chalk dispenser attached to their bike. 

Built by Immigrants

In the centre of a traditional red brick wall is a sign, in the style of a UK road sign, which reads 'Stonehenge, Built by Immigrants'Credit: Built by Immigrants, (2019), Jeremy Deller. Courtesy of The Artist and The Modern Institute/ Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow. Photo: Patrick Jameson.

The Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller has exhibited in Glasgow previously with his hugely successful art installation, Sacrilege in 2012 - an inflatable, life-sized replica of Stonehenge. He returned to the city in 2019 to install Built by Immigrants in Aird's Lane at the Modern Institute. Designed in the style of a traditional British road sign, this piece of art makes a political statement regarding immigration. 


The Cherub and Skull were created by Scottish artist Kenny Hunter, who has exhibited worldwide. Hunter also created the city's Citizen Firefighter, located outside Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow.


The Cherub and Skull is a 2-part sculpture, with one found at the front of the Tron Theatre and one at the back. They represent life and death, as well as the building's life as a church and theatre.

Bridge Columns

Scottish artist, Ian Hamilton Finlay created the Bridge Columns out of the remnants of the demolished Caledonian Bridge. The two pillars have the phrase ‘All greatness stands firm in the storm' carved onto them.




Empire 430 1Empire Sign. Image Credit: @thesmartguy7

Turner Prize winning artist, Douglas Gordon has taken the idea of the Empire sign directly from the Empire Hotel sign in Hitchcock's Vertigo. Here the word Empire is reversed and therefore only legible in the surrounding stainless steel panels. The piece plays with the idea of reality and is deliberately located in the Merchant City (currently relocating from Tontine Lane to New Wynd) to reflect the relationship between the area's wealth and the British Empire and the slave trade.


Glasgow Bouquet

A street view looking up sees sculpted tools set within a weaved-basket on top of a plinth. To either side of the sculpture are the grand buildings of a Merchant City street.Credit: Image courtesy of The Artist. Photo: Eimear Coyle.

Scottish artist Doug Cocker created the Glasgow Bouquet to represent the importance of merchants and craftsmen to the city of Glasgow. Here the tools are placed in a basket, much like flowers in a vase, with the 10 tools symbolising different trades or roles.

Topographical Relief Map

A bronze 3D map of Glasgow city centre with grooves and peaks representing roads, buildings and rivers.Credit: Image courtesy of The Artist. Photo: Eimear Coyle.

Scottish sculptor Kathleen Chambers created a 3D bronze map of Glasgow with people encouraged to touch and explore the city with their hands. Topographical Relief Map was designed specifically with a visually impaired audience in mind, with braille used for street names. The piece was commissioned to celebrate the city’s status as the European City of Culture in 1990.


For another arty experience on the go, visit our City Centre Mural Trail page for info on Glasgow's amazing street art. 

Article last updated: June 2021