‘Glasgow and Gemeinschaft’

‘Glasgow and Gemeinschaft’
by David Harding

An extract from David Harding’s lecture/essay about the glasgow art scene.


Glasgow is a friendly place and has, according to those whose interest it is to draw these conclusions – visitors, foreigners and sociologists – a very different ambience to that of Edinburgh with which it is most often compared. I do not like generalisations but visitors have so often told I that there is a real difference between Glasgow and Edinburgh, that I do now believe it. 


Glasgow is warmer, friendlier, more welcoming and I am saying this as a native of Edinburgh, albeit from that part of it called Leith – poor and working class, as it once was, that always felt that it was not really a part of the capital city. This special Glasgow ‘effect’ could also be felt in the department. It is of course best described by the German word ‘gemeinschaft’ meaning – there being no equivalent word in English – an organic community with a strong sense of tradition, mutual association and locality. But it is one of the dangers of any group that forms itself into a supportive network that by that very act it excludes others. 


I would argue that in this case the very strength derived from ‘gemeinschaft’ made it such that people from other cultures and places were positively welcomed. A Scandinavian critic, Gunnar Arnason writes, “There has been an influx of artists from the four corners of the world who have begun to move to Glasgow and settle there.” Individuals too from successive waves of graduates were, for a time, absorbed into the net