Statue from the 1938 Empire Exhibition, Glasgow


Ken Harman


            During a recent holiday in Scotland organized by the excellent coach firm “Lochs & Glens”, there was a visit each day to at least one National Trust for Scotland property. One of these was Greenbank Gardens south-west of Glasgow. Although the house remains, it is the garden one goes to see for it has been well-restored by the Trust. There are divided sections and in one of these I found a rather fine statue with fountain giving visitors a refreshing spray. Then I found a small plaque set in the paving at the pond edge, and to my surprise, this informed me that the figure was originally on show at the 1938 Empire Exhibition, Glasgow.

            It is entitled “Foam” and was sculpted by Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson for the Exhibition which had been held in Bellahouston Park. Although I did not visit this park, I understand that one building from the 1938 Exhibition remains (the Palace of Art) although it has been altered somewhat over the years. The artist kept the statue but after his death in 1973, his trustees gifted it to the National Trust for Scotland (in 1983). The Trust then chose Greenbank Gardens to display it as it is the nearest Trust site to Bellahouston Park.

            Looking at the statue today one can spot the unmistakably clean-lines of the 1930s, the style which has come to be known as “Art Deco”. “Foam” appears to be a work of merit and is most attractively sited in the gardens. A little gentle research on “the web” reveals that Jackson was born at Garlennick, Cornwall in 1887 and studied sculpture at the Edinburgh College of Art after winning a traveling scholarship. He obviously “dug-in” for he then taught at the same college and executed architectural and public sculpture in Scotland for many years. Amongst his works are the Rothesay War memorial (1922), panels of David Livingstone at Blantyre together with a fountain called the “World Fountain”, the 1938 “Foam” fountain (about which we now know), gates at the University of Glasgow, and last but not least, the statue of Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn which was finished in 1964.




1938 Glasgow Empire Exhibition statue at Greenbank Gardens south-west of Glasgow.


© Exhibition Study Group 2008