Public Sculpture of Glasgow is the fifth volume to be published from the National Recording Project (NRP) of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA).
The principal objective of the NRP is to extend the record of public sculpture and monuments across Britain. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the NRP has established 12 Regional Archive Centres by collaborating with selected universities, museums, galleries and colleges, and has developed a National Archive Centre based at the Courtauld Institute of Art to coordinate their activities. Through this scheme, the PMSA intends to create a national archive in order to monitor the condition and preservation of sculpture and monuments and provide information for local amenity groups, local authorities and heritage agencies.
This fifth volume is perhaps the most ambitious to date. Glasgow is notable as being one of the few British cities to have resisted artistic centralisation based on London. Elsewhere public sculpture has largely consisted of provincial excursions by London sculptors. Liverpool had eminent sculptors but they lived mainly in Rome. Edinburgh had its own sculptors, some of whom worked in Glasgow, but it lacked both Glasgow's wealth and international links. Only in Glasgow were there significant local workshops, often family based, training dynasties of native sculptors. These workshops themselves depended on another great Glasgow specialism, architectural sculpture. Local architects naturally looked to local sculptors for the works intended to enhance the beauty, proclaim the importance and explain the purpose of their buildings. This volume contains important sculptures by most of the great British sculptors and some continental sculptors.
The study of architectural sculpture, falling between the history of art and the history of architecture, has been until very recently generally neglected - even by that great pioneer, Rupert Gunnis. Ray McKenzie has in this volume for the first time demonstrated the importance of Glasgow's architectural sculpture and explained its function with a wealth of superbly arranged and carefully marshalled detail.