Re-imagining Glasgow
1971-1990

During the 1970s the heavy industries which had made Glasgow wealthy severely declined. At the same time, the city’s cultural economy was beginning to grow. Organisations such as The Glasgow Print Studio, The Third Eye Centre, Transmission Gallery, Street Level Photoworks and The Glasgow Sculpture Studios were all established in the 1970s and 1980s.

During this period GSA introduced new courses in Fine Art Photography and Environmental Art. This marked a move away from painting as the primary medium for fine art students. In addition to this, the School’s undergraduate diploma which focussed on practical training in the visual arts, was replaced by a new BA(Hons) Degree course which promoted critical engagement with these subject areas. Masters Courses in Design, Fine Art and Architecture were also established.

The 1980s also saw the emergence of the New Glasgow Boys, a group of GSA graduates who produced striking figurative paintings. The success of these artists marked the beginning of a new interest in Glasgow and its artists. During the 1980s the city rebranded itself with a new marketing campaign, Glasgow’s Miles Better and successfully bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 1990.

Browse 1971-1990 images ›


Some key facts for this period include:
  • 1971 – Newbery Tower completed
  • 1971 – Department of Photography introduced
  • 1971 – Student Numbers:1684
  • 1972 – Cosmo Cinema (now The GFT) first used by the School
  • 1972 – Student Numbers: 1613
  • 1973 – Richmond building purchased at 240-250 Renfrew St
  • 1973 – Student Numbers: 1682
  • 1973 – J.D. Kelly Building (formerly a nursing home) at 121 Hill Street purchased and work begins to convert it to a hostel
  • 1974 – Richmond Building opened for use for staff and students following brief site works
  • 1974 – Student Numbers: 1723
  • 1974 – Flat at 17 Baliol Street rented
  • 1974 – Premises at 7 Blythswood Square purchased
  • 1975 – Student Numbers: 1762
  • 1976 – Student Numbers: 1821
  • 1976 – Conversion of the Haldane Building completed at the cost of £94,000
  • 1976 – J.D. Kelly Building ready for use as student residence
  • 1976 – BA (Hons) degree fist awarded for Design and Fine Art
  • 1977 – Student Numbers: 1841
  • 1978 – Student Numbers: 1719
  • 1978 – Assembly Hall Building is refitted with salvaged interior from the Victoria Cafe (formerly on Cathcart Rd)
  • 1978 – First BA in Town Planning awarded
  • 1979 – Student Numbers: 1728
  • 1979 – Degrees of the Council for National Academic Awards now awarded
  • 1979 – Four year diplomas abolished
  • 1979 – Bourdon building officially opened by HRH the Duke of Gloucester
  • 1980 – Student Numbers: 1711
  • 1980 – Professor Anthony Jones becomes Director (holds post until 1985)
  • 1981 – GSA/USA Programme begins allowing staff exchange with American institutions
  • 1982 – Extension to Newbery Tower completed (now houses the refectory and staff lounge)
  • 1982 – Student Numbers: 1801
  • 1982 – BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art Photography introduced
  • 1983 – Blythswood Square residence vacated and sold
  • 1983 – Main Library moved from Mackintosh Building to Bourdon Building
  • 1983 – Assembly Hall refitted as a social facility for students by Gillespie, Kidd and Coia Architects
  • 1983 – Coffee and snack bar opened in Newbery Tower
  • 1983 – Student Numbers: 1697
  • 1984 – Student Numbers: 1717
  • 1984 – MA Design course begins
  • 1984 – MArch course begins
  • 1984 – Planning degree now validated by Glasgow University
  • 1985 – Student Numbers: 1790
  • 1985 – Murals and Stained Glass renamed Environmental Art
  • 1985 – Organised public guided tours of the Mackintosh Building begin
  • 1985 – Thomas Pannell becomes Director (holds post until 1988)
  • 1986 – Fire ravishes McLellan Galleries and reconstruction begins
  • 1986 – Student Numbers: 1836
  • 1986 – Competition launched to redesign streetscape and street furniture in front of Mackintosh Building
  • 1986 – Shop proposed to promote Mackintosh style products
  • 1987 – Planning Department absorbed into Strathclyde University
  • 1987 – BEng and MEng courses in Product Design Engineering validated by Glasgow University begin
  • 1987 – MA Fine Art begins
  • 1987 – Student Numbers: 1800
  • 1988 – Work begins on balcony in Main Library
  • 1988 – Approval given for Margaret Macdonald House on Buccleuch Street intended to be self-funding student accommodation
  • 1988 – Student Numbers: 1974
  • 1989 – Student Numbers: 2023
  • 1989 – William Buchanan becomes Acting Director (until 1990)
  • 1990 – Student Numbers: 2199
This is Our Art, by Ross Sinclair, 1987

This is Our Art, by Ross Sinclair, 1987