Alasdair Gray and the City: Mapping Alasdair Gray’s murals within Glasgow

Published: 16 September 2021

Alasdair Gray and the City: Mapping Alasdair Gray’s murals within Glasgow


The Alasdair Gray Archive was established in March 2020 after Gray’s death in late December 2019.  The Alasdair Gray Archive exists to enhance the reputation and understanding of one of Scotland’s most significant cultural polymaths of the 20th century, and through his legacy support young people and other individuals to fulfil their potential in the creative sector. One of the core aims is to foster, promote and develop education opportunities in relation to the work of Alasdair Gray via series of student placements.     


In person but some time could be spent offsite recording/visiting sites. Open to discussing hybrid working if better suited for the placement students needs.


The Archive is keen to map Gray’s work and how it is deeply embedded within the city of Glasgow. There are many Alasdair Gray murals which remain in public and private spaces throughout the city. The folklore surrounding them are of interest to capture as well as creating a definitive list that can be used for future events. This placement would seek to map, record and share the many Gray murals that were created within the city. This has been prompted by concern over the long term safety of some of these murals and we have been working with Historic Environment Scotland on listing and preserving them for the future. We are keen to generate a detailed list of all works known within the city (and beyond) as well as those that have been removed and/or destroyed. We will use existing & new oral testimonies, video footage, digital images, archival material and Gray’s visual biography, A Life in Pictures, to create a definitive list and narrative text for each commission. We are interested in exploring how to share these outcomes more publicly via digital content, walking tours, QR codes to make a wider public aware of this rich legacy which remains. Time would be spent making creative links between the material held within the Archive, generating content and thinking of creative ways in making this accessible to a wider public, physically, digitally and through social media platforms. Students will be able to handle and view original artworks and material so an enthusiasm for the subject matter would be useful and allow more meaningful connections. The Archive will run through all systems as well as the handling of ethical issues, confidentiality issues, intellectual property rights and copyright agreement. Our organisational values reflect the values by which Alasdair lived & worked and we reflect these in how we approach and work with others. These values of equity, openness and sharing enable outcomes to be shaped by others and for us to learn by sharing and working together. This is an essential part of this placement and the selected student will have the opportunity to work alongside others including our PhD Collaborative Doctoral Candidate for 2022, Lauren Forde. The Archive is keen to support the selected student to find a meaningful line of enquiry

that supports their own research interests and to acknowledge their contribution to what is produced. An example of this collaborative approach to working is the new podcast series, ‘Unlikely Objects, Mostly’, our 2022 SGSAH student Christopher Silver produced during the course of his placement, A collection of everyday objects followed Alasdair Gray for long periods across the different rooms of his life, often appearing within the imagined worlds he conjured up as familiar motifs and devices. They now occupy prominent places within the Alasdair Gray Archive. In this new podcast series, we used these objects to draw together memories from Alasdair’s friends, colleagues and collaborators. In doing so, we explore deeper connections between the artist’s own assembled world, his day-to-day practice, his home city and his commitment to socialism. Listen here,


  • Clear research aims/goals
  • Generating new content: artwork/performance/event/resources

  • Thinking through accessibility and making this visible (physical and digital)
  • Reflective blog sharing their research journey


Flexible - Ideally 1-2 days per week 

Benefits to the Host

The Archive has developed its organisational strategy detailing its plan for the next 3-5 years. A priority for 2023 is to offer researchers new research opportunities, offering advanced pedagogical & financial opportunities. It also ties in with our longer term plans to make Gray’s work accessible to a wider audience and increase opportunities for new audience engagement. This project would generate the essential research material required to develop new content to then share more widely.

• Creating new content

• Creative links between art forms

• Making heritage accessible

• Capturing oral histories/narratives around objects

• Enriching the archive both physically and through the digital experience.

• Creating meaningful access (digital/physical)

• New research, sharing this through reflective blog posts and other accessible routes

• Making the archive more accessible both digitally and physically

• Collaboration; knowledge exchange, peer to peer learning

Benefits to the Researcher

  • Mouldable outcomes; the student shaping these outcomes
  • Collaborative learning; sharing and learning from others that are connected via our Gray networks
  • Professional and personal development
  • Extended network
  • Creative development; an opportunity to creatively explore new and existing content and thinking through creative ways of sharing this publicly

Key Relationships

The student will work closely with Sorcha Dallas, Custodian of the Archive. However the student will work alongside other researchers (namely our PhD Collaborative Doctoral Candidate for 2022, Lauren Forde) and post graduate/under graduate student placements (from Strathclyde University, Glasgow University, Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art amongst others) so there is real opportunity for cross subject collaboration, knowledge exchange and peer to peer learning.

  • Mentor, Sorcha Dallas
  • Lauren Forde (PhD Collaborative Doctoral Candidate, with Strathclyde University)
  • Post grad and Under grad students (from Strathclyde University, Glasgow University, Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art amongst others)
  • Gray Research Network of academics, writers, artists and supporters
  • Visitors to the Archive
  • Friends/family members of Alasdair Gray
  • User groups to the Archive
  • Other research institutions and archives with an interest in Gray
  • Wider public

First published: 16 September 2021