Govanhill Baths, Glasgow
By Brianna Robertson-Kirkland
Kathy Hinde’s Luminous Birds anonymously hang in a dank and darkened back alley by the boarded up Govanhill Baths. Beside runs a busy street, which even on a cold, Sunday evening was so noisy it overpowered the subtle, effervescent sounds that accompany the illuminated birds. Even so, the installation has the power to transport the viewer away from the hustle and bustle of Glasgow, if they are willing to take the time to focus on the meditative music and repeated motion of the lights that each reveal a chain of successive origami birds. The idea of birds in flight is clearly captured and the delicate display brings a sense of beauty to an otherwise unattractive area.
However, it took me quite a while to achieve a sense of calm that would allow me to appreciate the display. The alley, on any other night of the week, is not the sort of place I would have felt comfortable exploring alone, and it certainly is not the kind of place one would normally choose for an installation of this kind. During my visit, I got a real sense of the kind of footfall this alley typically receives: lone passers who simply want to make it through as quickly as possible; couples who did seem to take the time to admire the installation for a few seconds; and raucous teenagers, keeping out of the way of any watchful eyes on the nearby busy street. The alley is one of the darkest in this area, which is perhaps why it was selected for this beautiful piece, but one could walk through without knowing the birds were there at all. Which leads me to wonder, what is the point?