Robinson is a sculptor from Chile. It is the first time he has traveled to Europe. I asked him to write something about his visit. He wrote the piece in Spanish, as he doesn’t speak much English.There are a few gaps in the translation. Feel free to send me fillers. However at that, the poignancy of his writing still shines through. (Thanks to Franny, for the translating ) Spanish
The flavours of Glasgow, by Robinson Barría Montalva
For one month now I have lived in Glasgow. I come from a rainy land which is by a great lake and volcano in the South of Chile. I have arrived in Europe for the first time. In the last month I have travelled around the city by different means – subway, bus, car, bicycle and on foot – which has allowed me to experience the city at different speeds, each giving its own particular experience of the city. Only by bike and on foot have I had the freedom to lose myself in this unknown city and to discover it like a virgin terrain full of new experiences for my attentive senses.
Neighbourhoods of red or yellow stone, intact and ordered in spite of the passage of time. Sculptures protruding from the buildings and constructions, mute witnesses to an era of architectural development and urban necessity. Bridges, labyrinths of pillars, arches and ………..beautifully blue in the night, like the look of its native people. Piers and walls, archaeological relics of the city’s vigour.
Everything being of stone, its age permits me to allow my imagination to fly and to visualise the scenes of old aquatic times, with their grates and tunnels through which the gladiators came to mortal combat. Or to simply imagine the noise of steel against steel, voices drowned out by the roar of metal in the execution of this daily task.
With its organisations of workers, engineers and technical people, with its inheritance of thousands of years of naval construction…..where are these warriors who conquered the world from these shipyards and piers? Might there still be living, people who climbed these steep stairs to get to the quayside when the …………was still dry?
Today the quayside is a desolate area where bushes grow between the stones and the ghosts of generations of labourers resist leaving there….
How many archaeological relics are still hidden along the Clyde as yet unknown to me?
Glasgow knows about ports, steel and stone, but also about summer and flowers…..colours, beautiful women and parks green, clean and well looked after, in every neighbourhood…
How many churches are there in Glasgow? And how many of them point their spires towards the sky to touch the clouds, piercing them to make it rain…. The Cathedral, older than my own country, historic epicentre of the city, its walls, floors and roof have condensed the breath, dreams and prayers of centuries of generations …. soaking up even their tears. And there, each war has its space, its dead; and they their place and their memory…..how many more names will have to be added to this infinite list of martyrs? If it was a telephone guide, you would look them up under their respective war.
So, one arrives easily to the nearby cemetery, fields punctuated by stones and crosses engraved with woven signs from the depths of the culture, older perhaps than the scriptures. Is it a cryptic language? Mental exercises to enable you to arrive at an altered state of consciousness? I don’t know, but they are there in order to challenge time, without knowing that time can’t be challenged, and many stones have already lost their inscriptions or have fallen, broken and forgotten as if it were a double death…
You can’t know Glasgow without visiting its University. Since they thought that the earth was flat and was the centre of the universe, how much knowledge has had to change, be corrected and even hidden? Nevertheless, it is there, medieval architecture, the tower which dominates and watches over the city, point of urban reference which hasn’t been darkened by the metallic shine nor the new design of the architecture of globalisation. It lifts itself towards the sky and is buried in the depths like the roots of an oak tree. The labyrinth and subterranean levels attract me even more than its bell tower – the latter I can see and enjoy, the former no but I can sense and feel them….
Glasgow is a recent discovery for me. It is summer and the sun warms in between the rain and rain. Soon Autumn will come to change the colour and temperature, and then winter will arrive with its chill as yet unknown to me, at which time I will retrace my steps and take with me the experience of having been received by this old city, and the memory of every cell in my body will say that this was true.
I can’t finish this writing without speaking of the people of Glasgow. My stay here would not have been possible if it was not for a friendly couple who invited me to get to know their country for a long period. I could think that this was just fortunate, but I have noticed the amiability of the people in the streets. I must confess that not knowing the English language has impeded me from having more meaningful contact with the people from this city, but in this time that I have lived here I have received great solidarity, friendship and warmth from the Scottish people, more than I expected and maybe more than I have deserved. I am a sculptor and I have been accepted as a member of the organisation known as Gal Gael in Govan, in order to work in their workshops where I’d like to develop my creativity and be able to give something back in some way, giving of my energy to the task that it’s necessary to undertake.
Glasgow and its people have offered me a unique possibility and I want to give the best of me as a tribute to the warmth I have received. I know that I have much to learn and that the road is not always easy, it never is, but I know to savour the challenges because in them is the meaning of life and here I am beginning to savour the flavours of Glasgow….