THE SPIRIT OF GLASGOW
Commissioned in 2020 by young entrepreneurs Daniel & Matt, this mural was destined to hang as pride of place on the walls of a refurbished cocktail lounge within Glasgow’s iconic Art Deco landmark, the Beresford Hotel.
However, it was not meant to be. Soon after the painting was completed Daniel and Matt announced ~ “We regret to say that sadly, our beloved Beresford Lounge will not be going ahead. We’ve tried everything we could to secure the resources needed to open our doors but only a few weeks into taking on our venue in 2020 we had to pivot in our strategy due to the global pandemic. Our dreams have been shattered.”
The painting is now for resale.
Size: Diptych~ each panel measuring 190W x 90H cm / 75"W x 35"H
Total size: 390W x 90H cm / 154”W x 35”H
Artist’s statement: "Painting The Spirit of Glasgow took me on a journey like no other. Knowing very little about Glasgow before I started, I now feel as though I know the city intimately and I truly loved every minute of discovery. Being a large-scale work, I found it physically challenging at times because of the architectural accuracy and painstaking attention to geometric detail. However, I poured my creative soul into bringing to life a unique world based on the history of Glasgow and the Beresford Hotel in particular.”
Catherine Abel’s instinctive ability to move a viewer through time, city, story and the harmonisation of feminine & masculine symbolism, is demonstrated in her extraordinary mural rendition The Spirit of Glasgow.
We are taken on an epic voyage of industry and transformation where we see the interplay of Art Deco’s signature style combining luxury with a sense of faith in technological progress, as it evolved during the 1930s. And worlds-within-worlds emerge like collage, inviting dialogue with a city steeped in historical richness. Notice the zeppelin and the harbingers of Steam Punk. The painting’s vastness grants the eye ample opportunity and space to explore and question.
Emphasising prismatic shapes, elements of Cubism and the traditional mural arc illustrating the urban environment flanked with emblems, it also pays homage to iconic marks of culture and evokes a tangible sense of destination. Abel has masterfully captured a Post-Modern impression of Glasgow’s character, and yet, a presence of unnameable, mystical significance saturates its entirety.
The solitary female figure casts an omniscient gaze across all of creation. She is poised above The Beresford Hotel and its cinematic spotlight, with majestic presence. The gradual transition from her feminine grace to the placement of trade, shipbuilding and bridges generates reflective yet rapid movement; a very real sense of travelling across multiple timelines and interpretations throughout the painting, simultaneously. The energy of the British and Scottish liaisons are palpable behind doors; the grand dame, RMS Queen Elizabeth ocean liner of distinction, takes her pride of place; the splendour and sleek arrangements of ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ and the stately Streamline Architecture definitive of the day.
During its 12 week completion, Abel ‘felt her way through’ each 8 hour stretch of skilled labour. Guided by her own imaginings, her love and knowledge of Art Deco and ocean liners, and with trust in the story unfolding around the iconic Beresford Hotel, it was important for her to act upon her instincts rather than any preconceived notion of what needed to happen. She learned that, ‘No matter how much you plan the outcome, the muse may lead you elsewhere. And that it’s best not to fight the flowing river.’
At any point of connection the viewer enters the artistic conversation, it could be said that with all historical and aesthetic appreciation aside, other faraway places of the mind and senses are stirred. The presence of a muse, a mystic, a woman as paragon of beauty, all combine within a streamline-city backdrop to form a spectacular painting that is both an invitation and a statement, all at once.
~ Review by Charlotte Claire