Mackintosh Tower, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
Some statues mark their presence with a twist, and this is one of those: the statue of Duke of Wellington in Glasgow.
The statue is a part of the cityscape and famous with its cone on top of it.
The statue was erected in 1844. So, the story goes back some time. Not a definite one though. It is not certain when the cone had first been placed. But, one day, people of Glasgow woke up with the scene that an equestrian statue of a mighty Duke appeared to have a traffic cone on its head.
The statue was listed one of the top ten most bizarre monuments on Earth by Lonely Planet (inews). Clearly, it is loved by the public and tourists since it has many appearances like a replica of the statue erected in the opening ceremony of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games. Lovely, isn’t it?
Despite the statue’s popularity due to the cone, the cone has been removed several times and put back. The council even passed some plans to end this tradition by raising the height so people cannot climb to put the cone back. The plans were backfired, for obvious reasons. Why would it be another boring man with a horse statue? Who does not like a Duke with a traffic cone?
The council had said that raising the height would end a practice which projected a “depressing image” of Glasgow and would save the £10,000 cost of removing the cone 100 times a year. The scheme would have seen a new granite-clad concrete base of 86cm (34in) added to the memorial to raise its overall height.
However, the council has reconsidered its decision after an online petition called “Save Wellington’s Cone”, which gathered thousands of signatories in just a few hours, and a Facebook campaign which had planned a rally in support of the cone.
A council spokesman said: “The wording of the report was appalling and the leader of the council (Gordon Matheson) has instructed officers to withdraw the planning application.” (BBC)
Also, as the campaigners state “The cone on Wellington’s head is an iconic part of Glasgow’s heritage, and means far more to the people of Glasgow and to visitors than Wellington himself ever has.” (BBC). Besides, in the campaign, there are a few good points which may affect the council’s decision such as “does anyone really think that a raised plinth will deter drunk Glaswegians?” Well, I agree with that!
Among other things, there is one point that we are not quite sure: What would Duke Wellington think about this?
Luckily, we have historians! According to inews, historian Dudley-Edwards argues that “Wellington himself would have been amused by the practice and embodied the ‘keep it coney’ ethos” since “He liked to keep it real”.
At the end of the day, the duke with a cone is a Rabelaisian act against mightiness of equestrian figures. The equestrian figures are usually associated with power and glorification of a person. The cone, on the other hand, turns the statue into a human being again.
Even better, there is a second twist in this story, the statue is located right in front of the Gallery of Modern Art. Yes, that is right. There is a classical equestrian statue right in front of a modern art gallery and it has a cone on the top of its head!
Bonus: A rare shot of the statue without a cone, but with a seagull!
(Image Credit: inews / eveningtimes.co.uk)
As folks of great Earth, Wind and Fire told us, it is All About Love, and Fred Kent from the Projects for Public Spaces cannot agree more!
Places exude a kind of magnetism, a draw that brings people closer together—lovers and strangers, alike. Whether sharing a kiss, or simply sharing a bench, there are endless examples of closeness and affection all brought about by great public spaces.
This affection isn’t just icing on the cake; it’s a basic human need. “It’s a big idea, affection,” observes PPS founder Fred Kent, “because it’s everywhere. Every community, every culture, every human being has a need for affection, for engaging with people, for connecting with people.” As our recent Healthy Places report reveals, social support and interaction provides important benefits to mental wellbeing and feelings of safety. Meanwhile, social isolation contributes to depression, stress, and can also undermine a community’s resilience in the face of disaster.
Check this great article on what makes public spaces places for people!
Or you can just listen to the folks below.
The trees and the birds
And if there ain’t no beauty
You gotta make some beauty
Listen to me, y’all
Some stories are never to be forgotten. After a hundred years, Mary Barbour’s statue now stands at Govan Cross.
I am starting a new series called “Stories Behind” telling the stories behind statues on the streets.
The series starts with a brave woman, Mary Barbour, whose statue was erected in Govan, Glasgow today at the International Women’s Day.
The early 1900s were the times of overcrowding and poor living conditions in Glasgow. The workers were flocking into the cities to work at newly emerging industries and the landlords were benefiting of this. During the World War I the rent incresese reached up to 25 %, and the rent strikes were against this unacceptable rates.
Tenants across the city refused to pay increases imposed since the start of the war. So, their point is, this increases were unacceptable and unaffordable by many working class families.
Yet the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association, established before 1914 to fight for better housing conditions, soon galvanised growing discontent over the increases by calling for a city-wide rent strike … . Early support from the areas closest to the shipyards, such as Govan and Partick, where tens of thousands were crammed into poorly maintained tenements, soon spread across much of the city. By September 1915 around 20,000 households were on rent strike in Glasgow alone, and the protests were spreading to other parts of the west of Scotland and beyond. (theconservation)
Mary Barbour was a leading figure in the epic rent strike started in Glasgow in 1915. The strikers formed eviction resistance groups, mainly women, which were dubbed as “Mrs Barbour’s Army”. (commonspace)
This is how they organised the strike and prevent evictions:
one woman with a bell would sit in the tenement close, watching while the other women living in the tenement went on with their household duties. Whenever the Bailiff’s Officer appeared to evict a tenant, the woman in the passage immediately rang the bell, and the other women put down whatever work they were doing and hurried to where the alarm was being raised. They would hurl flour bombs and other missiles at the bailiff, forcing him to make a hasty retreat. It is said they even pulled down his trousers to humiliate him! (Remember Mary Barbour)
The rent strike started in September and by November more than 25,000 working class families were refusing to pay rent. As a result of the strike, the Parliament passed the Rent Restriction Act. This froze rent at 1914 levels unless improvements had been made to the property.
The strikers’ demands had been met.
Remember Mary Barbour Campaign raised funds to errect a statue of Mary Barbour to commemorate her legacy. The statue now stands at Govan as a constant reminder of the legendary rent strike in Glasgow.
(Image credit: Top Eveningtimes / Bottom Personal Archive)
Podemos launches a campaign to name and shame the politician involved in corruption scandals. Their faces are printed on the buses and they will enjoy the ride 🙂
It is a good example for tactical urbanism 🙂 Enjoy 😉
Today, 54 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 70 percent by 2050. Urbanisation is a fact, making cities worldwide an even more relevant topic to talk about. What does urban journalism look like today and how can we make it function as a tool to address and solve urban issues? (citiesintransion)
The Urban Stories Festival is a great event for urban storytelling and journalism. It offers a discussion platform for urban issues and innovative ways for addressing these issues.
Urban Stories Festival (USF) shares the most important stories the city accommodates. During this four-day festival we look at urban journalism as a tool to address urban issues, provide a stage for innovative city stories and explore how digital developments help create new ways of storytelling. The festival offers workshops, talkshows, documentary screenings and lectures. Dive into the world of (citizen) journalism, press freedom, big data, digital storytelling tools and investigative urban journalism. (Urban Stories Festival)
What if we strip our towns from outdoor advertisements which dominate public spaces for quite some time?
CATS – the Citizens Advertising Takeover Service did this for you in London and the result is marvellous.
It was funded via Kickstarter by almost 700 people who pledged over 23k GBP to get the project up and running, and as organizer James Turner noted in a blog, “This isn’t a clever marketing stunt. The people behind it are volunteers. We want to inspire people to think differently about the world and realize they have the power to change it.” (boredpanda)
Check it out:
Image Credit: boredpanda
The result shows how much our public space is occupied by advertisements, and how it is commodified silently. It also shows potentials to use these spaces for public art (or for other good causes like feline world domination) instead of increasing consumption.
Thanks CATS for making a point with our feline friends 🙂
The Mano de Desierto – Hand of the Desert – is a giant hand sculpture at Atacama Desert. It is designed by Mario Irarrázabal, a Chilean artist famous with hand sculptures in the middle of nowhere.
The sculpture is fascinating with its symbolism for loneliness and sorrow.
French street art duo Vanessa and Stéphane, better known as Urban X Stitch, decorate ordinary chain-link fences across public city streets with bright and colorful cross stitched characters. (Read full story here)
(Photo credit: Distractify)