EDitorial ± 8-Jun-2012

Spitfire And An Elephant

All those dreams of low-flying aircraft must stem from reading too much JG Ballard. So to stand indoors on a first floor gallery and almost be able to reach out and touch an actual Spitfire: well, you can imagine. A Friday in Glasgow. Welcome to the Kelvingrove.

We've let the train take the strain from Arrochar & Tarbet all the way into Queen Street station. Short hop on the clockwork orange subway from Buchanan Street to Kelvinbridge, short stroll through the park (thanks, helpful lady, for directions), past the statue of Robert Carlyle and we're here. In and wow. Quite the place they have here. Plus free admission. Double wow.

Pick a random hall to start and soon find myself drawn to a mighty odd painting on the far wall. Medium view of a town and dark blue sky with clouds is good in itself. However, in the foreground are three lifelike faces looking upwards, presumably towards the Unidentified Aircraft of the title. Weirdly haunting. It's by one Edward Baird, employed for a while as a war artist. He died young not long after the war. I like it a lot.

Completely different is a model and some old Pathe footage of the Railplane, a proposed propellor-driven form of transport. Idea was that a capsule would glide along on a raised track above a railway line. They built a test line near Glasgow in the 1930s but, despite lots of interest, the money never came through and the poor guy, George Bennie, died bankrupt. It's the very definition of steampunk.

Numerous other personal highlights included the Neon Elvis, Dali's stunning Christ On The Cross in a room by itself, the huge wall painting of Queen Victoria, etc. Plus there's an actual Spitfire, whose wing tips are no more than a shatterproof ruler's length away from the museum's edges, and below, Sir Roger the circus elephant. Go visit.