Glasgow's Secret Sculptures

Glasgow’s city centre is crammed full of buildings with beautiful detailing above eye level, you just need to look up! But to help uncover some of them for you, here’s our list of some of these hidden treasures below:   

The Empire and Mitre Bar Signs, Tontine Lane


Hidden away down Tontine Lane is the Empire sign, which can be spotted illuminated on occassion. Designed by Glaswegian Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon, inspiration for the piece came from Hitchcock's Vertigo, and when lit, one of the 'Es' even flicker to give it a real vintage look. 

As you'll have spotted just to the left, there is another neon sign on Tontine Lane. Originally from the Mitre Bar, which used to be on nearby Brunswick Street, the sign reads 'Mitre Bar Sandwich Buffet'. Although the Mitre Bar is now closed, you can still see the original Victorian bar on the Riverside Museum's Main Street; a recreation of city shop units between 1895 and 1930.

The G.I. Bride, Partick Rail & Subway Station

The G.I. Bride, sculpted by Ranald MacColl and commissioned by the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport in 2009, is a character from Scottish cartoonist Bud Neill. The Bride featured in cartoon strips inside Glasgow newspaper, The Evening Times, and was a long-standing character within Neill's popular Lobey Dosser series. Born in Partick and a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, Bud's humorous use of Glaswegian slang and comical illustration was a roaring success.  

Thinking of Bella, The Italian Centre

The meaning of artist Shona Kinloch's Thinking of Bella bronze cast has been deliberated since it's creation in 1994. The piece features a person and a dog, both looking to the sky, and forms part of a water feature. Arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in Glasgow, the Italian Centre was restored by Page\Park Architects some 22 years ago. 

Light and Life, Morrison Street

Light-and-Life-2016Image Credit: Nick Ponty Photography

Light and Life, a female statue luxuriously gilded in 23 carat gold, stands proudly on top of Glasgow's former Co-op Building on Morrison Street. Easily spotted whilst travelling over the Kingston Bridge, the sculpture was replaced in 2016 following the previous concrete design being removed in 1994 for safety reasons. 

The 2016 statue was commissioned by Bill Ritchie of Atelier Ten, as a tribute to his grandmother Ruby who had spoken so fondly of the original in years gone by, and crafted by artist Kenny MacKay. 

The Clyde Clock, Killermont Street


Created by Glasgow artist George Wylie, the mid-run Clyde Clock perches outside of Buchanan Bus Station. Also referred to as the Running Man Clock, this playfully positioned piece seems quite apt amidst the hustle and bustle of a busy central transport hub. 

The Clock was commissioned by Radio Clyde in 2000 to celebrate 25 years of independent broadcasting and was designed to chime at 8pm only every day - regarded as Wylie's ideal hour to meet. 

Statues of George and Thomas Hutcheson, Hutchesons Bar & Brasserie

The statues of brothers George and Thomas Hutcheson, stand proudly on the façade of Hutchesons Bar and Brasserie in Glasgow’s Merchant City. The oldest portrait statues in the city, they commemorate the pair who founded not only Hutchesons Hospital but also Hutchesons Grammar School.  
Sadly, George passed away in 1639 – though his statue pedestal reads 1663 due to a misplacement of the numbers, which would have made him 113 years old!

St. Mungo, The Cherub and The Skull, Tron Theatre


The Tron Theatre is a building steeped in Glaswegian history. Having stood in Glasgow’s Merchant City for almost five centuries, it has been a Christian place of worship, a meeting hall, a market, a store house, a police station and a theatre.

To celebrate its history, the theatre has three distinctive sculptures – the first, a sculpture of St. Mungo, Glasgow’s patron saint, which was designed by local kinetic sculpture artists Sharmanka in 2001, and includes emblems of Glasgow’s coat of arms. Look out on the hour when the steeple bell rings, as a small bird pecks, a fish spins and St Mungo raises his staff!

And the second and third – the Cherub and the Skull. A pair of sculptures crafted in bronze on the exterior of the Tron Theatre. Designed by Kenny Hunter and installed in 1997, the sculptures were created to celebrate the Tron building as both a place of worship and as a theatre.

The Glasgow Bouquet, Hutcheson Street

Have you ever spotted the Glasgow Bouquet on Hutcheson Street? This beautiful bronze sculpture was commissioned to mark the 400th anniversary of The Letter of Guildry, a charter which regulated the roles and organisations of the craftsmen, merchants and maltmen in the city. Designed by Scottish sculptor Doug Cocker in 2005,  the sculpture was first unveiled on George Square at the Lord Provost’s Pageant celebrations and exhibited at the People's Palace before moving to the Merchant City.

However this is not the only example of Doug's work in Glasgow - visit House for an Art Lover for more of his work.

Female Statue, Templeton Building, Glasgow Green

The beautiful Templeton Building, which was once a carpet factory owned by James Templeton & Son was designed by famous architect William Leiper. The architecture was based on the Venetian Doge's Palace and was suitably grand for its time, completed in 1892. Carpets produced at the factory were fitted on the Titanic, inside Westminster Abbey and even within Abraham Lincoln's house. 

Sadly, there have been two tragedies which have occured within the Templeton Building. The first - in 1889 during construction - killed 29 women and girls when a wall collapsed on to a weaving shed. The second happened in 1900 when a fire broke out in the factory. In memory of this, there now stands a female statue on top of the Templeton Building, holding a bouquet of flowers. 

Ludwig van Beethoven Statue, Renfrew Street

Beethoven-Statue-2016Image Credit: The Evening Times
Who knew there was a Beethoven statue near Glasgow’s Charing Cross? The red sandstone building where he sits has a front entrance on Sauchiehall Street, and was once the premises of the magical sounding T A Ewing's Piano and Harmonium Emporium.

With the goods entrance on Renfrew Street, the owner of the music shop - Thomas Alfred Ewing – asked his brother, renowned sculptor James Alexander Ewing, to carve the statue so that every musical instrument entering the building was gazed upon by Beethoven himself.

Statue of Liberty, Glasgow City Chambers

Statue-Liberty-995Image credit: The Sunday Post
That’s right! Glasgow has its very own Statue of Liberty too – perched right on top of the magnificent City Chambers on George Square. Sculpted by James Alexander Ewing, the statue forms part of the City Chambers Jubilee Pediment – Truth, Riches and Honour.

The Donut Repair Sign, Cottonrake Bakery

Cottonrake Bakery is a well known west end bakery, best known for their blend of British baking with French patisserie and serving up Glasgow's very own coffee - Dear Green. It's perhaps not so well known for a quirky neon sign in the bakery window, which reads 'Donut Repair', made by Turner-nominated artist, David Shrigley.  

Princes Square Exterior, Buchanan Street

The beautiful metalwork exterior of luxury brand shopping centre, Princes Square, was designed by Timorous Beasties - producers of beautifully patterned textiles, wallcoverings and ceramics based on Glasgow's west end. The elegant foliage-look sculpture was moulded on site by sculptor Kenny MacKay (who also worked on the Light and Life statue above, for the eagle eyed among you).  

Mrs Mitchell, Mitchell Library

In the heart of Glasgow’s Charing Cross stands the breathtakingly impressive Mitchell Library, one of Europe's largest public libraries. On top of the building’s bronzed dome is a copper statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva. Affectionately named Mrs Mitchell, the statue was sculpted by Thomas J Clapperton to represent literature and learning. 

Look out for another regal sculpture above the Mitchell Library's main entrance too, sculpted by Johan Keller to represent wisdom. 

Want to discover more? Then you can read all about some more of Glasgow’s hidden gems.