Friday, 18 May 2012

Remembering George Wyllie

Via Gertie DU on flickr

My art classes at school were rubbish.  Really bad.  Anything other than drawing was not considered art.  We didn’t talk about artists.  We didn’t make anything.  I eventually got asked not to participate and just use the time to read quietly as ‘I couldn’t draw’.  School wasn’t the greatest experience for me, but this was a new low.  George Wyllie was one of the first artists I really ‘knew’ about – apart from LS Lowry, of course, who lived in our town.  I never really thought of Lowry as an artist either, but just put him in the category of well known people who lived in our town.  Like Danny Wilson and John Virgo and Shaun Ryder.

Back to Wyllie.  His bike sculpture on Deansgate in Manchester remains one of my favourite pieces of public art, we often drove or walked past it when I was younger.  My dad’s car parking spot of choice for a trip into town was in Quay Street near the Granada building, and before the visitor attraction opened, we would often try to catch a glimpse of the Coronation Street set or more excitingly – the actors!  It also meant that we could drive into town along the dual carriageway through Ordsall, and look out for Salford Lads Club en route.  Once out of the car, we’d walk past the museums in Castlefield and the 1980s houses with coloured panels and funny roofs.

Via Terry Whalebone on flickr

When I moved to Glasgow, I found out more about Wyllie, and of course the clock sculpture outside the bus station became a daily sight as I commuted to Edinburgh by coach.  I was delighted when I realised that this was the same guy who made the bike sculpture, a little piece of ‘home’ in my new town.  There was an excellent (BBC?) documentary about Wyllie a few years ago, hopefully it will be shown again or you can find it on YouTube I’m sure (Oh here it is, you can buy it on DVD).  I have a feeling it is in my big pile of VHS tapes that I keep meaning to burn to disc.  Maybe I’ll make a bit more effort to dig it out and watch it again.  A true inspiration.