Statues dramatically returned to the roof of the Citizens Theatre

The famous statues that have welcomed audiences to the Citizens Theatre for decades have now been reinstated in their new elevated positions, watching over actors, audiences and residents of the Gorbals.

Over this weekend (19 – 20 August), the statues were lifted into their new homes as work to redevelop the iconic building, a Gorbals landmark, enters its final phase ahead of reopening in 2024.

Architects for the project, Bennetts Associates, have returned the stone statues, restored by Scottish sculptor David J Mitchell, to the rooftop of the Citizens Theatre, creating a dramatic new focal point for Gorbals Street and the local community.

The stone statues celebrate the four Greek goddesses Melpomene (tragedy), Thalia (comedy), Euterpe (song and poetry), and Terpsichore (dance) alongside Robert Burns and William Shakespeare.

The history of the six stone statues dates back to when the building first opened in 1878 and they adorned the front of the building as part of a shared façade with the Palace Theatre. Having survived a fire and demolition in 1977 when the Palace Theatre was condemned, they were reunited in the Citizens Theatre foyer in 1989.

Protecting the unique heritage of the Citizens Theatre and improving access to it, has been a key goal of the Redevelopment project. Many of the original Victorian features, including the paint frame and stage machinery - the only surviving example of nineteenth century stage machinery in Scotland – will have new public access.

The building work is expected to complete by the summer next year allowing creative work to get underway by the autumn of 2024.

Alex McGowan, Executive Director & Joint CEO, Citizens Theatre said:“I’m delighted to see the restored statues return to the roof of the theatre as we mark another significant milestone in our journey to re-opening. We also hope it is an exciting moment in the wider regeneration of the Gorbals as we restore and reimagine a visual landmark for our local area. The Citz is an iconic building with a huge history, but its beautiful Victorian features were hidden behind an uninviting yellow brick facade. The new frontage to the theatre completely transforms that. Throughout the project, audiences have enthused about the statues that welcomed them to the theatre for decades in our old foyer. Now they are back in their historic position, as they were 145 years ago, ready to welcome people back to the Citz when we re-open our doors next year.

James Nelmes, Director, Bennetts Associates said: “It’s exciting to see a key part of our design for the redevelopment of the Citizens Theatre come to fruition. The statues on the roof will sit alongside pink neon and black brick encompassing the many old and new traditions that make up the identity of the building. The Citz has always married its heritage with a contemporary, international outlook and we have reflected that in our design. The redevelopment will deliver spaces and experiences full of character, reflecting the unique and idiosyncratic nature of the theatre building and company.”

ENDS/

Media enquiries: Susie Gray, The Corner Shop PR, susie@thecornershoppr.com / 07834 073795

FREE TO USE PHOTOS OF STATUE LIFT HERE - https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1wb_AtHfearjtK_O6vBaaE_bjIelXmyK5?usp=share_link

FREE TO USE PHOTOS OF BROADER STATUE STORY - https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1kNfq2XD8qKXG-KrVUuU4ZbWaCSUsp5IT?usp=share_link

Sculptor, David J Mitchell and his team, carefully removed the statues from the building to carry out restoration work at his studio. The stone statues in particular, suffered from pollution, weathering and paint damage and some missing features were re-made from photographic records.

You can read more about the statues here:

History:https://citizenstheatre.blogspot.com/2021/01/graham-sutherland-on-our-statues-part-1.html -

Restoration:https://citizenstheatre.blogspot.com/2021/01/graham-sutherland-on-our-statues-part-2.html -

Photos of them returning to site (pre-elevation) here:https://www.flickr.com/photos/citizenstheatre/albums/72157717967354083

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 Previously sourced quotes on the statues:

“They’ve seen the social history of the Gorbals. They’ve seen the landscape of the Gorbals change. They’ve seen the audience come and go... They’ve seen actors come and go into the theatre... They're going to go back onto the roof of the theatre and see a whole new Gorbals.” Neil Packham on the statues.  

“I think of this building like a rock in the community – it stands out like a lighthouse in the middle of the area.” Participant at the Moving Out Event, 2018

More information on the redevelopment project:

The redeveloped building will transform the experiences of audiences, participants and performers and secure the future of one of Scotland’s most iconic buildings and leading producing theatre companies. The project designed by Bennetts Associates will be the most comprehensive redevelopment of the category B listed building since it opened in 1878, re-designing an ageing and vulnerable building into a vibrant cultural venue for communities across Scotland. Constructed by Kier Regional Building, it will deliver improved accessibility, secure the heritage of its unique Victorian features and offer new bar facilities as well as rehearsal, learning and studio spaces. The building is anticipated to re-open in 2024. Key funders of the project include Glasgow City Council, Scottish Government, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland.

Additional funding for the restoration of the statues includes The Aurelius Charitable Trust and The Henry Moore Foundation as well as several individual supporters. 

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