Which UK city is the most creative?


Daniel Ibbotson, creative director, Graphical House

Glasgow is the most creative city I’ve ever lived in. In fact it’s the only city I’ve ever lived in. Why is that though? I’m not a local, I was born and brought up a stone’s throw from the cities of Manchester and Sheffield, both of which must be high up on the list of ideal cities for creative types. I’ve spent my fair share of time in London too. But Glasgow has always held a certain fascination. It seems to have a vitality that is rare. It has always been a creative city, at least it has always made its living from creating things. And yes, these days there aren’t so many ships, but there is a still a lot of industrious building going on. The sense of growth and development is everywhere.

I first became aware of Glasgow through music, the bands and the clubs born out of this city have always been out there at the front, not just in the UK but in the world. However, what eventually brought me to Glasgow was the Art School. It was there that I became aware of the rich art scene within the city, at grass roots level there is a lot going on, there has been for decades.

The success of the artist run spaces and small commercial galleries is well charted. Looking back, some of the individuals leading that development have achieved considerable international acclaim – Douglas Gordon and David Shrigley spring to mind.

More recently this grass roots activity has united with the established scene in the form of the Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Visual Art, a bit of a mouthful yes but also one of Europe’s most cutting edge art festivals.

These days I consider myself lucky to be part of Glasgow’s flourishing design community. Some of the best work being produced in the UK right now is happening in this city, from graphic and communications design to motion graphics, architecture and fashion. Organisations such as Marque, ISO, Nord, Collective, Ché Camille and Brazen are pushing the city and indeed the country in new directions.

The success achieved by these and others fuels the creative pool and raises the bar in terms of what can be done. It fuels expectations and educates the market. Being so far off centre in the UK has its disadvantages of course, but there is nothing more challenging in that problem than any other.

Everywhere you look in Glasgow something is being built, literally. Admittedly there have been casualties of late. It’s incredibly sad and frustrating to see The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City suffering at the moment. But Glasgow has weathered many storms in the past.

It’s this history that fascinates; it’s evident everywhere you look. The patchwork landscape of the city is also a history of the city, the stories are evident everywhere and they feed the creative practice. Glasgow is never static, it is constantly evolving and shifting, you never have to look far to find something new, something worth seeing.

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