It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of street art. I’ve written about incredible street art in Toronto that’s right in my own backyard, and murals from other spots around the world like Derry, Miami, and Buffalo. Glasgow graffiti is some of the best that I’ve seen in the world. It’s bright, colorful, and meaningful. Plus, you can embark on a free walking tour in Glasgow to see all of the art. All of the Glasgow murals are within walking distance of one another. I’ve even found a few bonus works of art in Glasgow to see beyond those found on the Glasgow Mural Trail.
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Why Street Art in Glasgow?
Back in 2008, the very first piece of street art in Glasgow was splashed across a city wall. This collection grew over the last few years with something for every taste and style, from more conventional styles to ones that are quirky and strange. In 2014, the Glasgow Mural Trail in the city centre was officially launched to promote the growing collection of murals there.
Essentially, street art in Glasgow provides new life to tired buildings and vacant sites. These beautiful Glasgow murals revitalize these structures. Spectacular art all over the city allows both locals and tourists alike to have new appreciation for otherwise neglected and unsightly places. Furthermore, this Glasgow graffiti brings people to the city centre, inviting them to visit local businesses and attractions.
Glasgow Mural Trail
Come along with me on a tour of the Glasgow Mural Trail. Nothing beats seeing it in person for yourself. But, I’ll give you the next best thing: viewing it through my lens from your own chair anywhere in the world.
The Strathclyde University “Wonderwall” mural tells the stories and achievements of Strathclyde and its students. There are three different murals on the sides of the seven story buildings, painted by Rogue-one and Ejek. This image shows many students that currently attend Strathclyde and celebrates its vibrant and diverse community. The staff and students of Strathclyde University come from over 100 countries around the world. It was our first stop on the Glasgow Mural Trail. You can see the second mural off in the distance, St Enoch and Child.
St Enoch and Child
Australian artist and Glasgow resident, Smug, has created several Glasgow murals that stunning and evocative. Smug painted this photo realistic work of street art in Glasgow using a cherry picker as it spans several stories of a building. St Enoch and Child depicts the patron saint of Glasgow, St Mungo, as a young child being breastfed by his mother, St Enoch. It is widely praised by Glaswegians. Not only does it encourage mothers to breastfeed their children, but it dispels the stigma against breastfeeding older children.
The Saint Mungo mural is another fantastic work by Smug. It was never officially named; however, it acquired its name after the image was shared approximately 1.5 million times in its first week. It shows the patron saint of Glasgow, Saint Mungo, wearing modern street clothes. When Mungo was a child, some boys threw stones at some birds and struck a robin. While the boys ran away, Mungo picked up the bird, smoothed its feathers, and prayed. After a short period of time, the bird came back to life and flew away. It was a miracle.
Fellow Glasgow Residents
Smug does it again! This is one of the largest displays of art in Glasgow, spanning the entire wall facing a parking lot. It features “Fellow Glasgow Residents”, the animals that live in Glasgow’s parks and green spaces. You’ll see cows (“hairy coos”!), squirrels, chipmunks, birds, deer, foxes, and so many more. There’s so much to look at in this sprawling piece of street art in Glasgow. I love all of the intricate details and the shadows. It really appears to be so three dimensional, as though I’m transported right to that nearby forest or trail.
There were a series of murals in Glasgow to promote the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and Badminton is one of them. There are some other ones depicting people playing rugby, hockey, and netball. You can find these other sports murals near the Partick train station.
You might miss Spaceman if you aren’t looking for it. Tucked down a very narrow alleyway (which made it a challenge to capture with my camera), Spaceman features splashes of colors against an otherwise barren wall. Artists Recoat and Ali Wylie demonstrate their influences: Japanese design, pop art, and graphic novels.
Study of a Woman in Black
Study of a Woman in Black is actually two murals featuring anonymous women wearing black clothing. James Klinge, formerly known as Klingatron, creates super detailed portraits from stencils. These women look incredibly lifelike in both murals, found just down the street from one another.
The Clutha bar made headlines back in 2013 when a police helicopter crashed into it, killing 10 people. The bar partially reopened a year and a half later, and this mural wraps around the building. It pays homage to the history of the area and the people who visited this iconic bar, known for its live music and vibrant atmosphere. Artists Ejek and Rogue-One painted this beautiful street art in Glasgow, featuring icons like Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
To celebrate his 75th birthday, BBC Scotland commissioned three Glasgow murals of actor Billy Connolly. This mural was created from an original work by John Byrne, and painted by Rogue-One. These were showcased as a surprise tribute in a special BBC programme, Billy Connolly: Portrait of a Lifetime. In the show, Connolly states, “I thought I’d be all light-hearted on seeing them and jokey – but they’re so big, the effect on me is so profound. People going to that length for me, it’s just taken my breath away.”
Argyle Street Cafe
Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the Argyle Street Cafe mural when I visited. There were large construction walls covering it up. Maybe it will be there when you visit Glasgow? It’s another beautiful piece of street art in Glasgow by Smug, featuring various animals enjoying some beverages together. It’s a reinterpretation and revamp of an older piece by Smug on the same wall.
Are Ye Dancin’
This stop on the Glasgow Mural Trail features two colorful walls on opposite sides of a tunnel. Painted by Conzo Throb, it’s right in the middle of a busy shopping area, tucked down a narrow passageway. It’s playful, quirky, and imaginative. You might recognize the figure on the “Are ye dancin'” side as the Duke of Wellington statue with the traffic cone on his head. On the “Are ye askin?” side, the girl has a bottle of Scotland’s popular Irn-Bru drink over her shoulder.
The World’s Most Economical Taxi
There’s a gritty, industrial feel as I stroll down Mitchell Street on an early morning. I couldn’t really see a reason to walk down this street, other than to view another work of Glasgow graffiti by Rogue-One. It might be one of the best ways to combat gridlock…have your taxi float up in the air above the roads! An interesting quote from the artist, “Can’t believe I painted a wall to look like a brick wall just because I wanted a brick wall!”
Honey…I Shrunk The Kids
It’s another super realistic and brilliant work by Glasgow resident, Smug. Just when you thought that your trip down Mitchell Street was over, this gorgeous work of art in Glasgow comes into view. It’s an over-sized woman with a magnifying glass, appearing to pick up something very small. I love the little details like the “Smug” necklace around her neck.
Rogue-One brings another spectacular work to the streets of Glasgow in the Wind Power mural. As a third mural on Mitchell Street, you’ll realize that it really was worth the trek down this fairly deserted road. You’ll see a woman blowing on a dandelion, and all of its seeds are actually windmills. As part of the Doors Open Day 2014 event, it represents and celebrates sustainable energy in Glasgow and Scotland.
Directly opposite one of my favorite attractions in Glasgow, The Lighthouse, you’ll find Glasgow’s Panda. Created by Klingatron, he used hand-cut stencils to paint this memorable piece of street art. It’s always unfortunate to see unsightly tags and graffiti painted nearly on top of other beautiful works, but it happens.
Dr Connolly I Presume?
It’s another commemorative Billy Connolly work by Rogue-One, and it represents a Jack Vettriano painting. It demonstrates Connolly on a stormy coastline near John O’Groats. This work on the Glasgow Mural Trail takes up an entire wall on Dixon Street.
The Glasgow Tiger is definitely my favorite artwork on the Glasgow Mural Trail. I might be a little bit biased as I love cats and big cats. Sorry, not sorry! Klingatron has illustrated another image of a tiger on top of the old one that used to live at this site. This tiger is highly intricate and detailed. I love how this wall looks with the buildings behind it, and it faces the River Clyde and the suspension bridge. Definitely go for a walk along the River Clyde and enjoy a few works of street art on this free walking tour in Glasgow on your way.
The Gallery is Smug’s interpretation of many famous works of art, including Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Munch’s The Scream, and the Mona Lisa. If you take a closer look at the Mona Lisa, you’ll notice that she’s holding a can of Irn-Bru in front of the Clyde Auditorium. She’s been dubbed, “The Mona Lassie” by Glaswegians. It’s another one that I noticed was sadly defaced.
It’s one of Smug’s first works of street art in Glasgow. He painted The Swimmer for Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games. Beneath a highway overpass, it’s in surprisingly good condition as it’s protected from the elements. This piece on the Glasgow Trail Mural is fitting as it’s right beside the River Clyde. The piece is incredibly lifelike, except it’s absolutely massive. The water and waves look so realistic around the swimming man.
There are a few pieces of street art that I missed along the Glasgow Mural Trail, but I’ll have to check them out the next time I’m in town. One of them is the Glasgow Crocodile, created by Klingatron. He uses the old brickwork to his advantage, using a gap in the bricks for its eye and other bricks around its scales. Similar to a crocodile lurking beneath the surface, you won’t grasp the scale of this creation until you view it from a certain angle.
Charing Cross Birds
At the Charing Cross Pedestrian Bridge, you’ll find the Charing Cross Birds by Little Book Transfers, an all female art and design collective from Glasgow. They’re part of the “STALK” series. You’ll find birds, foliage, and fruit painted on the pillars of this bridge.
Hand Shadow Puppets
Justin and I stumbled across Hand Shadow Puppets in a tunnel as we walked towards the University of Glasgow and Ashton Lane from Glasgow’s City Centre. Rogue-One brings life back to an otherwise dingy underpass. Hands cast shadows of animals on the wall, while other animals look on.
The Musician, by Rogue-One, is a tribute to Glasgow’s live music scene. It’s between two popular music venues, Howlin’ Wolf and Malone’s. The nearby Sauchiehall Street has loads of entertainment in the evenings, which means this colorful work of art is precisely in the proper place.
The Lost Giant
Right near The Musician, you’ll also find The Lost Giant (which is why I didn’t manage to see either of them!). Australian artist, Stormie Mills, has installed many works in his Lost Giant series across cities around the world. This special Lost Giant of Glasgow is wearing a scarf made from the Glaswegian tartan.
Bonus Glasgow Murals and Art
Beyond the Glasgow Mural Trail, there is even more street art to see in this vibrant and colorful city. Looking for more things to do in Glasgow besides street art? Check out my one day Glasgow travel guide!
Street Art by Fuse
Although the style is reminiscent of Banksy, small pieces of street art by Fuse are popping up all over Glasgow. I stumbled upon one as I searched for other art on the Glasgow Mural Trail. It’s always wonderful to accidentally come across even more outdoor art. When researching some information about Fuse after the fact, I saw that he painted a Pikachu and a Poke-Ball in other places around Glasgow. I wish I had stumbled upon those!
There are even more murals outside the City Centre. We found this wall around the corner from Ashton Lane, looking like a flight of stairs going up to the second level. There are painted flowerpots up the staircase to a window with real flowerpots and plants.
Inside Restaurants and Cafes
You might even find murals inside the restaurants and cafes themselves! The Glasvegan has a playful tribute to the Duke of Wellington equestrian statue, with a carrot on his head instead of a pylon (because: vegan). Papercup Coffee Company showcases art that inspires us all to “dream big”. And even though Picnic doesn’t necessarily have a mural inside its cafe, I loved this pastel watercolor wall. Here’s my whole listing of vegan restaurants in Glasgow, too.
What’s your favorite place in the world for street art?