Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Glasgow School of Art, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh

What an awful thing to happen - the fire at the Glasgow School of Art. This highly original building by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the renowned Art Nouveau designer, completed in 1909, was irreplaceable. It seems that the damage won't be as extensive as first feared, but the place will bear scars forthwith. I saw it in April 2010, when it looked like this:

Stone, glass, iron, and plenty of wood. On a very steep site, as you can see. There was an exhibition on, and the public could go inside, but they were not allowed to take photographs. I managed only a couple before an officious young person told me to stop. Let's hope that the School can be restored to its former glory. It really is a special place.

Rennie Mackintosh had a number of architectural commissions, but his career in that sphere never really took off. There is however sufficient of his work in and around Glasgow to justify an official Rennie Mackintosh 'trail'. M--- and I saw, for example, the Willow Tea Rooms, on the first floor over a jeweller's shop, and approached through it:

There are also some other buildings of his in central Glasgow, basically commercial structures, worth seeking out:

The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery out in the western part of the city has a section devoted to his design work in general:

Rennie Mackintosh's embrace of Japanese taste is very evident. Whether it's furniture or jewellery, the thin, elongated style he developed has become instantly recognisable. But the Glasgow School of Art remains his main large-scale epitaph.


  1. I have known so many who worked or trained there that are stunned at the loss of such an inspirational space. It featured in so many films as a ready made set for exotic locations, What will they do and where shall they go now...?

    Early reports were that it might just burn out but from experience of a fire (due to roofers) near here we know that the local fire brigades train for these events and the need to preserve as much as possible in certain buildings and in Glasgow they formed a human wall of watery defines to stop the sideways spread of the flames and much seems to have been saved though how long renovation could take is another matter...

  2. Auto spell scrambler! Defence managed to be turned into defines...

  3. It could have been worse so they said on the report but they did manage to save the majority of the artifacts. I think we'll get over the loss don't you? Greater losses have happened in history, think of the great fire in Alexandria where almost every piece of literature was destroyed but they didn't have the benefit of fire protection equipment available today. That begs the question, 'Did the fire protection system work in Glasgow, assuming they had one?'

    Shirley Anne x


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