This year marks the 40th anniversary of the setting up of the Third Eye Centre in Glasgow.
A multi-purpose centre of art gallery, performance space and bookshop within Alexander “Greek” Thomson’s imposing Grecian Chambers, it was a formative location in my artistic education during the 1980s. Its shop-front space without an overbearing staff presence meant that you felt you could call in on a whim and stroll around for ten minutes at a time without self-consciousness.
Its front bookshop was especially enticing, crammed with newspapers and magazines covering all aspects of the arts, culture and politics as well as a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. This old photo ignites nostalgia.
I must confess that my clearest recollections of visual art shows there are of a couple of crowd-pleasers, one of Peter Fluck and Roger Law’s puppets from Spitting Image, the other an exhibition of the new fashionable young Scottish painters like Steven Campbell and Adrian Wisniewski. But the online archive prompts recall of others from its eclectic history like Alexander “Greek” Thomson, multi-media artist George Wylie, photographer Oscar Marzaroli and Glasgow pigeon lofts (yes!)
The music concert at the forefront of my memory is Richard and Linda Thompson, but Max Reinhardt on Late Junction has just prompted my recall of the wonderful acappella of the Mint Juleps one Mayfest. I also remember the reading by Seamus Heaney which was preceded by traditional singer Ted Hickey, and a performance of another kind in the stand-up comedy of Simon Fanshawe and Jenny Eclair.
This was a golden age of touring theatre and the Third Eye was, alongside the Tron and the Mitchell theatres, an important Glasgow platform for small productions. While there were many I read about with interest and missed with regret, the only one I actually saw was a double bill of short Beckett plays by a tiny local company called the Great Western Theatre Company.
The Third Eye was a major partner in at least two Glasgow festivals of art and culture from Russia and eastern Europe as the continent redrew boundaries at the end of the 1980s. These events were successful artistically but not always financially, and this latter fact led to the closure of the venue around 1990 or 1991 – at the very time of the European City of Culture success towards which it had been such an important contributor.
When the building reopened a year or two later, its new name, the Centre of Contemporary Arts, sounded so plain, so half-hearted, that its future seemed unpromising. Yet, as it has turned out , the life of the CCA has been longer than that of the Third Eye Centre. Refurbishment included expansion into adjoining premises, arts events of varying kinds were presented and thrived. The spirit of the Third Eye Centre has lived on…plus it has an excellent cafe/restaurant of the classic arts centre type with an arty name!
It was great to find further archive material from the web-site of the short-lived Glasgow Miracle Project. More forthcoming from other sources one day, perhaps.