Getting Creative in Glasgow

Anna Banszel, Bachelor of Design (Architecture) 

Short-term Program: University of Glasgow ‘Scottish Urban Landscapes in Film and Glass’

Scotland (July 2018)

While Brisbane shivered this winter I was over in sunny Britain studying Scottish Urban
Landscape in Film and Glass at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). This intense
one-week course combined research with technical experience in the renowned
photography and glass workshops at the GSA.

Through my research I discovered that Glasgow has been settled since prehistoric
times and rapidly expanded during the 16th century when traders and craftspeople
converged in the city. Glasgow still maintains that legacy of quality of craftsmanship,
with the GSA being an exemplar of world-class art education.

On day one and two I learnt 35mm photography. With a camera provided by the
university I roamed the gritty streets of Glasgow capturing moments of urbanity in
one of the most beautiful and diverse cities I have ever experienced. Developing my
film in the dark rooms was both technically and creatively challenging. There is a lot of
scope for creative expression after the film is shot. In making my prints from my
negatives I experimented with exposure and filter to get the results I was after.

Photography lab.

For days three to five we moved into the glass studios to learn glass art. The
photographs I developed on my first two days informed the design of my bespoke
stained glass panel. In this studio I learnt how to design my panel, cut the glass,
solder the lead, apply the putty between the lead and glass and paint the glass.

Glass art studio.

On the last day all the international students were invited to a gathering were we
met other students and saw the work people had produced. All the staff at GSA
were really friendly and approachable. Though it’s part of huge university the vibe
at the GSA is more like a boutique studio run by artists who value collaboration and
push the creative boundaries.

Glass and photos.

Before I took this course, I’ll admit Glasgow was never on my list of places to see. I
had been to Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands and considered Scotland ticked
off my travel list. Big mistake – Glasgow is brilliant! If you’re after culture it’s home
to fine institutions like the Scottish Ballet, if you want a social atmosphere head to
the West End and explore the bars. If you want history there are loads of museums
and if fancy gardens the Glasgow Botanic Gardens can take a whole day to
explore. It doesn’t get dark till after 10pm either, so you can take your time. One of
my favourite nights out was seeing Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the
Botanic Gardens for five pounds.

Glasgow skyline.

Glasgow university.

I stayed at the GSA accommodation where I had my own ensuite room. It was
modern and clean with a shared kitchen with all the facilities needed to cook meals.
With so many places to eat out I only really used the kitchen for breakfasts but if I’d
been there for longer I would have been cooking up a storm. Washing machines
were also available for laundry, it was five minutes walk from the studios and
staffed until 7pm every day. Price of living is similar to Australia. For lunch I usually
went to a convenience store and got a sandwich or salad for about $5 AUD. Once I
was in Glasgow I walked everywhere, or took a black cab if it was late at night.
Getting to Glasgow from London or Edinburgh is easiest by rail and prices are
lower if you book online in advance.

My experience at GSA differed from my experience at QUT in that GSA was all
studio based. Other than that it was similar – we learnt the techniques, studied the
context and worked from a design brief under the guidance of our tutors.

If I could offer advice to anyone considering taking this course is to go with an open
mind and willingness to push yourself creatively. I’d also recommend you give
yourself a few days either side of your course to explore the city and meet some
locals. I extended my trip to three weeks to visit London and Copenhagen. It was
great to have that down time to balance the trip with work and play.
My only complaint about this course was that it wasn’t long enough!

Me in London.

Life at the University of Glasgow

Ashleigh: University of Glasgow, Scotland – Semester 1, 2016

I went on exchange to Glasgow for two semesters. While overseas for eleven months I travelled and learned a lot about different cultures, different ways of teaching and, most importantly, I learned a lot about myself as a person.

Scotland/United Kingdom is a great place to go as you have a very similar cultural background, but you’re close to so many different countries which have different lifestyles and are just incredible to see! Cost-wise, travel itself was pretty cheap once I arrived. As long as you’re flexible with dates and times and can get away with just cabin baggage and you’re willing to stay in hostels, you can have a weekend away for no more than $150! Of the eleven months I was away, I spent about three of those travelling and I still wish I saw more.

The cost of living wasn’t too bad in my opinion, but I still live with my parents so I don’t have much to compare it to. Some leisure activities (for example, movies) can be more expensive, but it’s generally around the same pricing as back home.

Part of the beautiful university campus

Part of the beautiful university campus

The view from campus

The view from campus

I stayed in halls that were about a 45-minute walk from the university campus, but my main reason for choosing it was because they were catered and we received two meals a day. The halls were nothing fancy, but I got one of the largest rooms which was great, and I had my own bathroom. The campus, on the other hand, was amazing. The main building is from the 1800s and on top of probably the only hill in Glasgow so you got a view of most of the city from there.

There were more food courts than at QUT (including a cafeteria in the library!) and they all had snacks, sandwiches and drinks at the least. Then there were two student unions which ran a lot of events and had bars and a nightclub, so there was always something happening if you got sick of studying.

The timetables were slightly different, with up to three lectures a week and a tutorial every second week. But the tutorials were much smaller, meaning that it felt more like a discussion rather than a lesson and I much preferred that.

We had snow one weekend!

We had snow one weekend!

My room in Glasgow

My room in Glasgow