Some of you may have noticed that the two, huge, former Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society buildings in Morrison Street, beside the Kingston Bridge in Glasgow, have been covered in scaffolding for the last few months while their roofs are being renewed.
What most have sadly forgotten is that the western-most building most famously featured a gold clad twelve foot tall Neoclassical style statue which adorned the central dome. The ‘Light and Life’ statue, created by James Alexander Ewing in 1897, stood 150ft above street level and used to be a welcoming sight across Glasgow.
Sadly in 1996 after over 100 years, severe structural defects were noted in the colossal concrete statue and it was removed leaving an unsightly 5 foot high steel column protruding from the dome.
On seeing the scaffolding on the building back in October, I thought immediately of the statue and a unique opportunity to reinstate this Glasgow landmark. I contacted Glasgow City Heritage Trust who advised that every penny of grant funding had been allocated to the ongoing roof repair and it was unlikely that anything could be done before the scaffolding was removed. Robin Webster was kind enough though to put me in touch with the renowned artist Kenny Mackay who had already drafted plans for a replacement. Kenny’s more famous work includes the statue of Donald Dewar at the top of Buchanan St, the timorous beasties manifestation outside Princess Square and the James Braidwood statue on the Royal Mile.
On speaking with Kenny, he explained the lengthy process involved in creating such a replica. I contacted the Planning Department at GCC and they have been most helpful in turning round an application which we managed to submit before Christmas.
Work started in early January and Kenny has been literally working around the clock in order to complete the statue before the scaffolding is removed in April.
Many individuals have generously offered their time and materials to get this project to this stage. Atelier Ten’s in house lighting designers have created a concept to illuminate the statue, whilst our friend Angus at Cartwright Lighting Associates has provided the LED luminaires which will illuminate the statue from the base. Emtec have offered their time and materials to install the lighting whilst John Bethune at structural engineers Woolgar Hunter has created a solution to ensure that the statue has a steadfast home.
We would like to reach out to our local community to help support the reintroduction of the statue and be part of the architectural footprint of our city. With the generosity of those mentioned above, the cost of the project is now reduced largely to materials including the steel and clay employed to create the mould, the resin skin and of course a 23 carat gold leaf covering. Kenny’s incredible commitment to the project has been outstanding and includes working for many, many hours without proper recompense.
Our target is to reach £28,500. At present we have over 1500 ‘likes’ on the Lost Glasgow facebook/website. If everyone who posted a ‘like’ could spare just £10 or £20, we will reach our target. For those who can support the project with £100 or more, their generosity will be immortalised with an inscription on a plaque to be displayed within the foyer of the building.
The scaffolding will be removed in April – please help us in restoring a Glasgow Landmark.