Glasgow Coat of Arms: do we need an update to represent our increasingly multi faith culture ?

Looking for potential symbols with “Faith” as a starting point

As a starting point for Part 5 of PM1, I visited the St Mungo Museum of Religious Art and Life and Glasgow Cathedral, both located at the heart of the historical Christian diocese of Glasgow. The museum seeks to help understanding of all faith groups and to act as a focus promote dialogue and engagement across religious divides.

Both places display works of art related to both Christian and other faith groups. The images below show Glasgow Cathedral in the background with a “Clooty Tree” installed in the Japanese Zen Garden in the gardens of the museum. The Clooty tree is usually found at places of spiritual significance and reflects the tradition ( found in many faiths) of tying cloth to trees to signify hopes and prayers. This motif has potential within a multi-faith context as it is used by several faith groups

The picture to the right includes the specially made lamp standards using the story of the Bird the Bell the Fish and the Tree from the legend of St Mungo.

Glasgow Cathedral seen from the Japanese Zen Garden with “Clooty Tree” in the foreground ( right ).

I was looking for imagery from amongst the various exhibits which might form the basis for an alternative crest. Below are some of the religious images of significance to the various faith groups featured.

From the left:

Hindu God Shiva as Nataraja ( Lord of the Dance): 

Hanukka  Lamp: From the Jewish religious tradition

Sikh Emblem

All of these emblems have strong visual impact and could be incorporated into the theme.



Faith emblems: further exploration



Exploring Printmaking and combination print techniques


For Project 12, I investigated the background to the coat of arms of my home city of Glasgow, leading to the development of a series of Collagraphs which were my own visual expression of the symbols seen in the coat of arms.
The piece was based on various legends associated with St Mungo, the patron Saint of Glasgow in the 6th Century.

The obvious association with a Christian Saint reflects the historic development of the city. However, on reflection I wondered how appropriate this is for an increasingly multicultural and multi faith city and thought that it would be an interesting challenge to try to rework the traditional city crest using symbols associated with the wide-ranging cultural life of the modern city.

The Glasgow Coat of Arms seen on artefacts from inside Glasgow Cathedral: from the right:

Alter  Kneeler/ Woven carpet used on main altar

I loved this use of the elements of the Glasgow Crest. The key elements are represented separately in the carpet, which has allowed the artist to include beautiful intricate pattern within each element . The tree is placed centrally, with its roots used to develop a beautiful border. Beneath the tree, the design places detailed motifs of the robin, an oak branch, salmon and the bell. The choice of rich red and yellow with small touches of blue works very well to create a work of art with great impact within the large space of the Cathedral.

Alternative depiction of the Legend of St Mungo

A walk around the area surrounding Glasgow Cathedral revealed a magnificent mural on a gable wall in High street, one of the old Glasgow Streets in which the city’s original university was founded. The mural is by the artist Smug, and represents a modern-day version of Saint Mungo with the robin he rescued.  Having just completed my first Collagraphs depicting the ancient legend, I was delighted to find this lovely artwork.


City Mural: High Street, Glasgow (Smug)

I love  the mural above. It’s impact is hugely impressive when the eye first spots it! The huge scale and wonderful use of tone tone  creating the light falling on the face and body of the figure create a great sense of reality in the work. I particularly love the fact that the artist has managed to create such a strong connection between the figure and the beautifully detailed robin perched on his hand.

Exploring Non- Christian faith groups in Glasgow

As a next step in developing my theme, I want  to explore the types of faith groups which exist in the city. Groups represented include: Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Bhuddist and Jewish. Although the Christian faith still predominates in the city, substantial numbers of different religious traditions are practised, and one in three Glaswegians described themselves as having no religious belief.
(Glasgow City Council,2013).