The Rebirth of the Dear Green Place: Parks and Wellbeing in 19th century Glasgow – Clare Willsdon

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Meet your ancestors sailing toy boats, strolling leafy glades, and sniffing the roses and carnations! In this talk we step through the gates of Glasgow’s historic public parks and gardens to discover how they linked art, nature, and people for health, celebration, remembrance, and community.

Conceived as part of the fight against disease and overcrowded living conditions, they offered a Scottish answer to Haussmann’s radical ‘greening’ of Paris in the nineteenth century, but also developed distinctive local answers to the industrial pollution, and loss of connection with nature, that attended Glasgow’s new manufacturing economy.

Starting with the work of the City Improvement Trust, established in 1866, and Sir William Tennant Gairdner, Glasgow’s dynamic first Medical Officer of Health, the talk explores some of the ways that people and plants came together in the history of the Botanic Gardens, Kelvingrove, and Queen’s, Victoria, Alexandra and Tollcross parks, and proposes that the history of Glasgow’s public parks offers much important inspiration as we rediscover the role of nature in human wellbeing today.

Clare A.P. Willsdon

Professor of the History of Western Art, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow

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