A Constant Sense of Discovery

Gaelen McCartney Glasgow School of Art, Scotland


September 29, 2015

I never knew that I would be able to re-live freshman year again, but it happened. Freshers week was just as I’m sure a lot of you are thinking, so I don’t need to explain much. The past two and a half weeks have been so much fun being able to explore this new city that I’m living in. Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, but coming from Philadelphia, it’s still small. It’s nice to be able to walk from one area to the other, which allows us to be able to explore so much more (while still getting some good exercise in). Throughout my time so far, I have seen the Kelvingrove Art Museum, Glasgow Cathedral, the River Clyde, Glasgow Necropolis, The Lighthouse (which has a great view of the city ‘skyline’), the Botanical Gardens, through the West End, and down the main streets, and so much more! Thankfully, all of this is within walking distance from where I’m staying.

Out of everything I’ve seen, the Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis were probably my favorite. The cathedral was built in 1136, which is now crazily almost 900 years old. If you can imagine (or looking at my photos) a building made of old stone with breathtaking stained glass, and arches and cross’. The whole thing is just magical. It really reminded me of the Abbey used in the Sound of Music. The whole way of having a large building with two separate area’s used for prayer and gathering is just really interesting. There were also graves in the basement along with stained glass windows dedicated to different families, which reminded me of my church back at home.

The Necropolis is an old Victorian graveyard. Now used as a place for people to walk around in. For me, it was a peaceful place that was filled with a lot of life and almost re-growth. Some of the graves that I saw have been there since the 1500’s and there is something so magical about that to me. Something about this deep history thinking about all of the people that have walked this land before me is just so incredible to wonder about. It’s definitely a place that I want to visit again and spend some time there, as it is just so peaceful.

Classes began last week, and it was a slightly shocking start. I decided to come to the Glasgow School of Art because it was one of the only programs I could find that offered anything to do with fiber art. What I necessarily didn’t realize was how their textile program is all about textile design, and very much so focused on manufacturing and for the consumer. This is something that I have never explored before back at Temple, so it’s allowing me to really get out of my comfort-zone to experiment and to learn. Our first project is lasting until the end of November, and we’re creating designs for a Scandinavian interior design company. Thankfully, I’m concentrating in weave while I’m here, so I’m able to keep more creatively with my designs to be slightly more fine-art based. After a semi-stressful week of learning how to start things with research and color studies here at GSA, I feel much better today after our group tutorial we had this morning. I'm excited to continue working with the ideas of gender and experimentation within gender in my weavings. I will be sure to try and keep you updated with my artwork as much as possible!

This past weekend was definitely one for the books. My flatmates and I traveled to Loch Lomond to hike up Ben Lomond, the highest peak in that region. We took the bus up to Tarbet, where we caught a ferry that took us across the loch to the trailhead. It was a beautiful ferry ride that lasted about 40 minutes so we were really able to spend quality time taking in the beauty of the land and water. We got to the trailhead, and we may have gone the wrong way at the beginning, but I got us quickly back on track to the hiking trail to the top of the mountain. Now, when we did we knew for sure as it was a constantly steep incline up the side of the ridge.

The whole hike up was absolutely stunning. It was even more incredible when we reached a point in which you enter the clouds. No, not fog, as I’m sure some of you are thinking, but the actual clouds. What might have been even more fun was hiking up the trail and coming across sheep. Now, as a Fibers major, I love sheep so this was just so cool. What might be even more amusing for you was I was walking up the trail, and looking ahead at what I thought was the top of the mountain. Admiring the view of the clouds and loch to my left, I followed the clouds looking right and saw this large dark triangle shape behind the thick clouds. As I kept walking and continued to observe this dark and mysterious shape, I realized that I was looking at the real top of the mountain. LOL-ing to myself, I kept going to the first top, and then along a ridge until the final steep trek up to the top of the mountain. We had a gorgeous view of the clouds at the top, but it didn’t matter! We had incredible ones on the hike up and were still able to enjoy a nice lunch at the summit. It’s a hike I would recommend to anyone traveling through Scotland, and I look forward to future hikes throughout my time here.

With that, I am looking forward to my first Arcadia excursion this weekend where we will be traveling through the Highlands and spending a night in Inverness. I will be sure to update you next week! Cheers!!


Scotland Semester Travel