The small diverse collection of oil and acrylic paintings housed at Glasgow Caledonian University reflect its origins and evolution. Glasgow Caledonian University was established in 1993, a merger of Glasgow Polytechnic and The Queen’s College, Glasgow. The collection comprises paintings ranging from Archibald Kay’s Victorian landscape (gifted by Sir Andrew Pettigrew in 1937 when he was Chair of The Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science) to Andrew Hay’s 1980s images of Glasgow (purchased by Glasgow College of Technology in 1988 when they housed an exhibition of Andrew Hay’s work), and beyond.
Barry and Linda Atherton’s rich 1990s portraits of the University’s first Chairs of Court (Hamish Wood and Celia Urquhart), Mark Gilbert’s vibrant portrait of our second Chancellor Magnus Magnusson and Ken Currie’s 1980s Communist Party banners may seem unconnected but on closer reflection they all have their place in GCU’s diverse history; images of key people to representations of ethnic diversity, learning and the concept of old traditions uniting with new ideas. Ann Mackintosh’s portrait of our Honorary Graduate Nelson Mandela and Michael McVeigh’s theme of the People’s Festival Ceilidh in 1951 record some of GCU’s developments into the 21st century; our history with the new South Africa and the developing themes in our Archives and Special Collections.
The art was commissioned, bought or gifted for a reason and that reason is as important as the painting itself; to record or reflect a moment in time. The Collection as it stands is part of GCU’s historical narrative, reflecting our institution, city and ethos. Dating from our Victorian origins, the art held on campus tells a small part of the story of a pioneering, new university which has grown to be one of Scotland’s largest.