After the Garden Festival began in an attempt to track down the surviving physical legacy of the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival – via research, communications and general detective work as well as the archaeological investigation of which Digging the Festival was the initial phase. However, this led us to realise the surprising extent to which the Festival, an important and influential stage of Glasgow’s late 20th century cultural and economic transformation, was underrepresented and unrecorded. Since then we have widened our methods to ones of general recording (through this website as well as the building-up of a substantial archive of documemts, images and interviews), with the goal of establishing a proper and comprehensive record of the Festival. We also deliver talks on the topic and will be providing guided tours of the Festival site. Additionally, we intend Digging the Festival to expand its scope across the whole of its location. We can be found on Twitter at @AtGF1988.
After the Garden Festival’s Lex Lamb co-curated the exhibition with Sue and Brian Evans (both individuals involved at the design level of the Garden Festival) and it was facilitated and hosted by New Glasgow Society with support from Glasgow Urban Lab.
The exhibition marked the 35th anniversary of the Garden Festival.
It ran at New Glasgow Society’s Argyle Street gallery from June 3-18 2023, attracting several hundred visitors and prompting some press coverage.
The exhibition has since been shown at Arlington Baths and Maryhill Burgh Halls and will progress to further venues.
In September 2023, we conducted our first ever guided walk of the Garden Festival site as part of Glasgow’s Doors Open Days Festival.
The walk traversed the whole Garden Festival site from East to West, pointing out locations, revealing hidden remnants and explaining the layout and form to the extent that it can be seen today. We also provided an on-the-spot update of what archaeology has told us about the survival of the Garden Festival
Numbers were very limited and demand high – so we will be repeating the walk soon. Join our mailing list to be kept informed as to when the opportunity will become available.
We have conducted several talks, both in person and online.
The talks cover the origins of the Garden Festival, its site, form and history and the fate of many of the structures and artworks – as well as the fruits of our wider research to date.
Other talks will follow – join our mailing list to be kept informed.
Gordon Barr still recalls with frustration being just too small to be able to ride on the Coca-Cola Roller Coaster in 1988. Despite this, he has many happy memories of the Festival, and still has his Friends of the Festival and Broom Milk Bar badges. More recently, he has gone from chemistry and computing academia to the heritage sector, where after helping with the award-winning regeneration of Maryhill Burgh Halls, he now manages the Scotland grants programme for the Architectural Heritage Fund.
Lex Lamb‘s now-wife persuaded him to ride the Coca-Cola Roller Coaster in 1988, the last time he was on such a hellish contraption. He has occupied the time since then delivering visual communications projects for a wide variety of clients. He also pioneered major changes as chair of New Glasgow Society from 2015-2018, has delivered lectures on the secret Soviet map of Glasgow, performed at T in the Park and Latitude festivals, produced a well-received surrealist comic book and explored many desolate and abandoned places.
Kenny Brophy went on many happy visits to the Garden Festival, his parents having made the wise choice to purchase a family season ticket. Too afraid to go onto the Coca-cola rollercoaster, the event nonetheless left a deep impression on him and his Festival merchandise includes fake Daily Record headlines featuring his name and a pin badge. Being a hoarder works well with his current role, senior lecture in archaeology at the University of Glasgow. He researches and writes about Neolithic Scotland, the contemporary archaeology of prehistory, and the archaeology of Glasgow, and blogs as the Urban Prehistorian. where he has previously written about a couple of surviving Garden Festival features: Richard Groom’s ‘Floating Head’ and the Antonine Gardens