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Posts Tagged ‘Dundee’

Dundee and the Limits of Cultural Regeneration

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, April 17th 2019

Dundee is the talk of the town. The once forgotten city of Scotland – certainly in the eyes of the Glasgow and Edinburgh chatterati – is now widely celebrated and recognised. It is winning piles of awards and attention, the latest of which being named ‘Sunday Times’ Best Place to Live in Scotland, with Dundee High School-educated Andrew Marr stating that ‘Dundee is certainly a very good idea’.

Dundee’s moment in the sun is well-deserved and has been a long time coming. There is an undoubted buzz, dynamism and can-do attitude which defines much of the city and its civic leadership, and as a Dundonian, I take great pride in my home town being noticed and winning lots of accolades, as the ‘Sunday Times’ states ‘Scotland’s sunniest city is making one big collective creative roar.’

The expectation, and then arrival, of the V&A has undoubtedly acted as a catalyst, but it is more than that. There is the now familiar list of the prestige of being a UNESCO City of Design, the work of the DCA and Dundee Rep, the remaking of the McManus Galleries and the development of world-class tourist experiences such as HMS Discovery and Verdant Works. Then there is the pioneering games industry, science and innovation, and stellar work of Dundee and Abertay universities, along with Duncan of Jordanstone, all of which work in partnership and have local, national and international footprints. Read the rest of this entry »

A Vision of the Future comes to Dundee: A Tayside Renaissance?

Gerry Hassan

New Statesman, October 12th 2018

Dundee is being talked about. This marks a big change for a city that traditionally has been ignored or presented in clichés – of jute, jam and journalism, the Tay Rail Bridge disaster, and William McGonagall.

Now Dundee is on the map, and not just the Scottish and UK one, but internationally as a tourist and cultural hot spot, and a must-see destination.

The major reason for this sudden interest is the opening of the V&A this month. It has been a long time coming, with expectation rising in the city and beyond.

The V&A is a statement of intent, and style-wise makes a dramatic impact. Its striking angular, shape and structure; its visceral materials and dark colours, can be seen from across the River Tay – and in the city centre, glimpses of the V&A peek out from side streets. Read the rest of this entry »

2018 will be the Year of Dundee but whose Dundee will it be?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 20th 2018

2018 will be the Year of Dundee. There is excitement and expectation in the city. After years in the doldrums, Dundee has now been punching above its weight for over a decade.

It is not just the anticipation of the V&A’s public opening on September 15th. The city has been picking up international attention and plaudits as variously ‘Scotland’s coolest city’ (Wall Street Journal), the ‘coolest in Scotland’ and undergoing a ‘renaissance’ (Condé Nast Traveller), ‘Britain’s coolest city’ (GQ magazine), and one of the top ten global destinations for 2018 (Wall Street Journal).

There is a good story here and we should celebrate it. Dundee has changed, lots of positive things have been happening, and more is on the way. Yet, it is also true that Dundee has historically been neglected by large parts of Scotland, from being overlooked to being patronised. How often have I heard the line ‘I have never been to Dundee I have just passed through it without stopping’, as a friendly Aberdonian recently said at a party in Edinburgh. Dundee planners have even made this easier as the Kingsway provides an easy by-pass cutting through the city.

That condescension is felt by Dundonians. My auntie Betty, in her 80s, and an astute observer of all things related to the city commented last weekend that ‘Dundee has always been a Cinderella city. Edinburgh is the capital, Glasgow is always buzzing with things going on, and Aberdeen had the oil.’ Is it possible that Scotland’s Central Belt tunnel vision, which is really a Glasgow-Edinburgh focus, will give Dundee a chance to shine and be noticed? Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Marra: The Bard of Dundee and Modern Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, December 13th 2017

Michael Marra – musician, artist and force for good – was a precious Scottish gem. He was unique in his art but also in his delivery and style; singularly understated, modest and often humble to the extent that at times he hugely underpromoted himself and his work.

It is worthwhile celebrating that the writer James Robertson has contributed his time and intelligence to produce a biography of Marra – ‘Michael Marra: Arrest This Moment’. This is a fascinating book, and important beyond the subject of Marra in addressing music, the creative muse, the role of the artist and culture, and having something to say about his home town (and mine) Dundee – and contemporary Scotland.

Michael Marra was born in Dundee on February 17th 1952, the fourth of five children, and grew up in Lochee, then as now a working class part of the city. After an unhappy time at school and several routine jobs, Michael found his voice as a singer and songwriter. Read the rest of this entry »

Living the High Life and Post-War Dream in Dundee

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, June 28th 2017

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy tower blocks and social housing are everywhere in the news.

Much of it has been ill-informed, instant commentary. People asserting that tower blocks aren’t suited to modern living or making sweeping statements about the failings of council and social housing, A large part of this seemed to be a displacement or discomfort of middle class opinion having to talk about a forgotten and neglected section of the country, and confront the living conditions of large numbers of poor people.

Housing is a topical subject. Long neglected by the British political classes it has become a social and generational scandal – one that has overlooked millions of people, and in particular, younger people, from owning or renting a decent home. It is all a far cry from the Thatcherite hubris of a ‘property owning democracy’ in the 1980s: a phrase which came of age in the 1950s and which was invented by the Scottish Tory Noel Skelton in the 1920s. Read the rest of this entry »

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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