UNCOVERING the story of Glasgow’s people, places and culture over the generations is at the heart of a new city walking tour.

Glasgow University graduates

Liv Barber and Jenny Benson

have been running tours for almost three years but this is the first time they have focussed on the city’s impressive street art.

“The work is so beautiful and intricate, it really blows people away when they see it,” explains Liv.

“We mention some of the murals on our city centre tour, and they always have such a great impact on the people who see them that we wanted to devote more time to them in their own right.”

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The tour begins outside The Lighthouse in Mitchell Lane, where the guides discuss the artwork Panda, by Shawlands-based artist James Klinge, aka Klingatron.

“It was his response to Edinburgh Zoo getting its own pandas,” laughs Jenny.

Over the next two hours, it winds its way through Glasgow’s streets and alleys, taking in some of the city’s most spectacular murals including Wind Power by Rogue One and Art Pistol; Honey I Shrunk the Kids by Smug; The World’s Most Economical Taxi by Rogue One; and Are Ye Dancin? by Conzo Throb.

“My favourite is Fellow Glasgow Residents, Smug’s amazing mural in Ingram Street,” says Jenny. “Smug, who is originally from Australia, was commissioned by Glasgow City Council to do a series of pieces promoting the 2014 Commonwealth Games when the city won the hosting duties in 2008.

“This piece was created during the Merchant City festival in 2013, and it’s incredible.”

The mural depicts the four seasons (often experienced by Glasgow in one day) plus an array of animals.

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Researching the murals has proved tricky for Jenny and Liv, who have enlisted the help of South Lanarkshire College travel and tourism students Jamie Masterton and Beth Young.

“The artists are all quite elusive and difficult to track down,” explains Jenny. “Most say their work is open to interpretation, so there is no ‘right’ explanation of what the pictures mean.”

As well as revealing a little about the murals, the tour gives participants some interesting insights into Glasgow’s culture and innovation.

“At the Panda, we talk about The Lighthouse, which is one of Glasgow’s cultural centres, while at Wind Power we bring in some of the amazing work being done on sustainable energy at Strathclyde University, for example,” says Jenny.

“The Banksy-esque Taxi mural is always a great one for introducing Glasgow’s ‘friendly city’ image.”

Both women studied business, Jenny with French and Liv with psychology, and the idea for city walking tours came while they were still at university.

“We had travelled a lot and done walking tours in other cities but there didn’t seem to be much happening in Glasgow,” explains Jenny. “We started with a city centre tour, taking in the big attractions and sightseeing locations, then added a west end tour, all about university life, the Botanic Gardens and so on.

“We researched everything in the uni library, put up a website and a Facebook page and went for it – we really had no idea how it would go.”

She smiles: “It was really popular – it just took off and it has grown since then.”

The line-up of tours now includes an Instagram one, which takes walkers to the city’s most photogenic spots.

“That’s a lot of fun – we include the Honey, I’ve Shrunk the Kids one on that tour because it’s so dramatic,” says Jenny. “We do have to explain the reference now, though, as most Instagrammers are way too young to remember the film it relates to!”

Liv, who moved to Glasgow from Kent in 2013, says the tours pull in much of Glasgow’s social and cultural history.

“The street art we talk about give a unique view of the city, because often, they are in places you just wouldn’t expect to find something so beautiful – gable ends, back lanes, car parks,” she says.

“It gives us a chance to talk about Glasgow as a modern, progressive, exciting city.”

Meeting all kinds of people from all over the world is a bonus, says Liv.

“We get a lot of tourists with Glasgow connections, who want to see where their parents and grandparents grew up,” she adds. “There are also loads of local people who want to show visiting friends and family around.”

She smiles: “Everyone is really friendly, there’s a great atmosphere on the tours. It’s the best job in the world.”

The new Street Art Tour, run by Walking Tours in Glasgow, takes place at 2pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until September. Find out more at walkingtoursin.com