Calling all Russian speakers!

The catalogue for the Mackintosh exhibition, The Kremlin Museum

The catalogue for the Mackintosh exhibition, The Kremlin Museum

Glasgow School of Art’s curator Peter Trowles, or Питер Троулес, as he is known in Russian, has recently returned from a trip to Moscow where he gave a lecture on the architecture of Mackintosh’s masterpiece The Glasgow School of Art, as part of an international Mackintosh exhibition at The Kremlin Museum. Crucially, this was first time Mackintosh’s work has been seen in Moscow since 1903. The exhibition included works loaned from around the world, including many from Glasgow Museums. Sadly as a result of the fire that occurred in the Mackintosh Building earlier this year we were no longer able to loan works to this exhibition as planned, however Peter was still able to visit the exhibition, which has also seen the publication of a beautiful catalogue (see above) – unfortunately only available in Russian – and to give his lecture as part of a series of talks by British Mackintosh experts.

Glasgow School of Art's Curator Peter Trowles prepares for his Russian screen debut

Glasgow School of Art’s Curator Peter Trowles prepares for his Russian screen debut

During his time in Moscow, in a surreal twist to proceedings Peter appeared on the Russian equivalent of Newsnight to speak about the School’s Mackintosh collection and the relationship between Mackintosh and the city of Glasgow. You can watch a video of Peter’s debut on Russian television here – though sadly it’s been dubbed so will only make sense to those of you who can speak Russian! We’re sure however that what Peter had to say was very interesting…

You can find out more about the exhibition, which ran from 5th Sep 2014-9th Nov 2014, here.

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The Mackintosh Library

The Mackintosh Library

The Mackintosh Library

Since the recent fire in the Mackintosh Building and the sad destruction of the Library there has been much discussion on how this space is going to be recreated. There has recently been a debate at Glasgow Queen’s Cross Church around whether this space should be ‘reinvented or restored’ and the symposium in Venice this Saturday will kick off the discussion on a international scale. However, locally what should or should not been done with the Mackintosh Library space is also being contemplated, with our own Interior Design course students undertaking the task of preparing a proposal for what they would do with the Library space if they had the option.

As part of the background to this project the Mackintosh Curator and Archive Assistant from the GSA Archives and Collections Centre gave a talk to the students explaining the role of the archives in the recovery process of the Mackintosh Building, and some of the issues that will face the Mackintosh Library restoration. These issues include questions around adaptations that were made to the Library during its lifetime to make it more functional, including the addition of a staircase and the use of Mackintosh Tearoom chairs for the last 50 years, rather than those originally designed for the Library. If the Library is to be restored should it be taken back to the way it was when it originally opened? Or to how it was just before the fire? Into this mix there has to be some consider of the role of people’s memory in the space’s reconstruction. Many past and current students have personal recollections of the Library and what it meant to them, should these memories be disregarded if the space is going to be re-invented? Or should they be the top priority, even above the concerns of current students, some of who will never have seen the library in its original form? The talk regarding these issues, and some of the questions raised by students can be listened to here.

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

First Proposals by Interior Design Students

The manner in which the library has adapted to the needs of students and staff in order to remain functional makes the idea of an ‘authentic’ recreation malleable. This idea of what is ‘authentic’ or not, and why it matters, was discussed in a talk by the school’s Mr Nicholas Oddy. An interesting lecture that can be heard here.

After presenting an initial proposal, the interior design students showed their final designs alongside their notes last Friday with some very interesting results.

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

Interior Design Students Final Proposal

While it is unlikely that we will know exactly what is happening with the Mackintosh Library for some time, it will hopefully continue to inspire conversations between students and staff around what could be done with this opportunity.

Upcoming Lunchtime Talk – The Graham Fagen Exhibition

When: Wed 30 July 2014, 12.30-1pm
Where: Reid Gallery, Reid Building, The Glasgow School of Art, 164 Renfrew Street, Glasgow G3 6RF
Free Admission, no booking necessary

Next week Glasgow School of Art’s Exhibitions Director, Jenny Brownrigg and Archivist, Susannah Waters will be giving a lunchtime talk about Graham Fagen’s GENERATION project at The Glasgow School of Art.

GSA alumnus, Graham Fagen, has been invited by The Glasgow School of Art Exhibitions Dept to research Charles Rennie Mackintosh through the GSA Archives & Collections Centre, and to create a solo exhibition of new work to be featured as part of GENERATION. Through the research project, Fagen has examined the work of Mackintosh and his peer group, focusing particularly on concepts of form and place, and has used his findings as a catalyst for the creation of a body of new artwork.

 

Graham Fagen's Work

Image courtesy of ‘Cabbages in an Orchard; The Formers and Forms of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Graham Fagen Flickr.

 

Early Mackintosh plant drawings were collated with the work of his peers to form a DIY publication called ‘The Magazine’.  Featured works such as ‘Tree of Influence’ or ‘Cabbages in an Orchard’, had text as part of the artwork which taken together with the image offer an insight into the creative thought process.  For this exhibition Fagen aims to present original works by Mackintosh and his peer group alongside the new pieces inspired by his own research. The Mackintosh works will be borrowed from a number of sources including GSA Archives & Special Collections. A book work, influenced by the DIY concept of ‘The Magazine’, will also be produced.

Mackintosh Watercolours

Image courtesy of ‘Cabbages in an Orchard; The Formers and Forms of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Graham Fagen Flickr.

GENERATION is a programme across Scotland led by National Galleries and Glasgow Life, aiming to tell the story of 25 years of contemporary art in Scotland, to a local and visiting audience for the Commonwealth Games. GSA is part of this programme with this project.

Photographic Documentation

View a slideshow of exhibition documentation images on Flickr.

Short film about the exhibition

Watch a short film about the exhibition featuring interviews with artist Graham Fagen, Exhibitions Director Jenny Brownrigg and Mackintosh Curator Peter Trowles: Vimeo.

More information about the exhibition

Visit the GSA website for more information: www.gsa.ac.uk

Mackintosh library windows fully restored

In recent months the west facade of the Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art (GSA) has been covered with scaffolding signalling on-going repairs to the iconic library windows. Costing in the region of £300,000, the work was grant aided by Historic Scotland with further support from the J Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust. The project was managed by Page and Park Architects with Nic Boyes Stone Conservation as lead contractor.

GSA’s library windows have had a somewhat chequered past. The original steel framed windows overseen by Mackintosh as part of the second phase of the building’s construction were in fact replaced in the 1940s because of their already perilous condition. A report to the GSA’s Board of Governors in May 1946 highlighted concerns that any delay to their repair might necessitate the need to “remove the present windows as a matter of safety to life”. Unfortunately, a detailed assessment of whatever repairs were made (estimated initially at £1060 but subsequently rising to £2125!) is no longer available. It also seems that further repairs may have been made in the early 1960s, but the location of the windows on the south-west corner of the building would have seen them continually exposed to the worst of Glasgow’s weather and the use of mastic and putty packed into some of the windows’ joints was hardly a defence against the inevitable wind-blown water ingress.

This time round it was decided that the most effective treatment would be the complete removal of the steel frames and steel and brass sub-frames, and for these to be sand-blasted and then galvanised. As much of the original glazing as possible was removed, cleaned and reused.

Work began on reinstalling the windows in October 2013 and was completed just two months later. Importantly, a detailed analysis of past treatments together with an extensive technical overview of current methods and processes used will be an invaluable resource for those tasked with making whatever subsequent repairs are needed in the, hopefully, distant future.

MOVEMBER: The best moustaches from the Archives and Collections

In celebration of this past month’s Movember campaign, we thought we’d showcase some of the best moustaches from the Archives and Collections here at Glasgow School of Art. Take a look at some of these beauties:

Fra Newbery and wife Jessie Newbery in costume, late 19th-early 20th century

Fra Newbery, Director of Glasgow School of Art 1885-1916, and wife Jessie Newbery in costume, late 19th-early 20th century

GSAA/EPH/10/100 Poster for GSA production of The Noble Spaniard by By W Somerset Maugham, Mar 1964

GSAA/EPH/10/100 Poster for GSA production of The Noble Spaniard by By W Somerset Maugham, Mar 1964

Portrait of Herbert McNair, late 19th-early 20th century

Portrait of Herbert McNair, late 19th-early 20th century

 

 DB/87, Photograph of Dennistoun Rounders Club, by Duncan Brown, mid-late 19th century

DB/87, Photograph of Dennistoun Rounders Club, by Duncan Brown, mid-late 19th century

Detail from GSAA/P/1/1022, P W Davidson, c1920s

Detail from GSAA/P/1/1022, P W Davidson, c1920s

DC_073_17, Christmas card design by Gordon Huntly, c1950s

DC/073/17, Christmas card design by Gordon Huntly, c1950s

And how could we not include the best moustache of them all, the one belonging to our very own Mr Mackintosh?

Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image credit: T & R Annan & Son

Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image credit: T & R Annan & Son

Hand, Heart & Soul – The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland

51RLW5RRIaL._SX385_Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland, an exhibition at City Art Centre, Edinburgh (June to September 2007), which travelled to  Millennium Galleries, Sheffield (October to January 2008) and finally to Aberdeen Art Gallery (June to August 2008), looked at Arts and Crafts practice across Scotland between 1880 and 1939. More than 300 objects in a wide variety of media – from jewellery to furniture, ceramics and glass, textiles to architectural designs, and including a number of items from Glasgow School of Art’s archives and collections – were assembled from public and private collections. Some items were familiar, many others (and their designers) were new discoveries. Arranged through six thematic sections, the show presented fascinating facets of the movement from the design or decoration of buildings to studio crafts. Together they provided fresh insight into life and identity a century ago.

The story of the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland is one of friendships, families and networks of art workers, architects and designer-craftsmen and women, all committed to the restoration of beauty to everyday life in the industrial age. At heart it was a middle-class city movement with its base in art schools and shared exhibitions. Arts and Crafts was an ideology which embraced modernity and progress but also the romance of the past. Part of the British movement, Scottish Arts and Crafts reflected and encouraged national dreams.

The exhibition curator, Dr Elizabeth Cumming, has kindly provided the exhibition guide and texts of the exhibit labels. These are now available on The Arts and Crafts Movement in Surrey website. The book Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland by Elizabeth Cumming has been recently reissued and is available to purchase from  Amazon.

Partage Plus – Digitising and enabling Art Nouveau for Europeana

partage-plus-logoPartage Plus, starting in March 2012 and lasting for 2 years, will digitise Art Nouveau objects, artworks, posters, and buildings to create c75,000 items, including 2,000 3D models, of content for access through Europeana, a single access point to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitised throughout Europe

The Art Nouveau style was a great success all over Europe at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It is well represented, in almost every art form, in museum collections, archives, libraries, photographic archives, and on buildings throughout Europe. After a short period of disinterest, with the arrival of modernist styles, it seems that Art Nouveau is now even more popular than ever.

The amount of content to be available on Partage Plus represents a significant increase in the quantity of Art Nouveau content available on the Web. Within the scope of Partage Plus grand masterpieces of the Art Nouveau period as well as outstanding examples from the collections of the collaborating institutions will be made accessible to users. The Partage Plus website will act as the hub for meeting users’ needs and provide users with the opportunity to gather information about the Art Nouveau style; experience Art Nouveau works online through Europeana; and visit institutions with Art Nouveau collections.

Argyle High Back Chair, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for 120 Mains Street, Glasgow and also for the Luncheon Room, Argyle Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, 1897

Argyle High Back Chair, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh for 120 Mains Street, Glasgow and also for the Luncheon Room, Argyle Street Tea Rooms, Glasgow, 1897

Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh collection is soon to form part of the Partage Plus online catalogue. Photographers will be visiting us in October to take 3D images of the Mackintosh furniture collection, and other items from the collection, such as architectural drawings and artwork, may be available sooner than that.

The Partage Plus blog is a brilliant resource for Art Nouveau researchers and admirers, and just in the last few days, Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been the subject of two articles: one about the Glasgow School of Art, and another about House for an Art Lover.

For more information, visit the Partage Plus website.

Front cover of folio of House for an Art Lover designs, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

Front cover of folio of House for an Art Lover designs, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1901

Uneasy Balance, new publication edited by Professor Christopher Platt

Chris Platt, Head and Professor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture is the editor of a new book entitled Uneasy Balance, a memento to the design and construction of Glasgow School of Art’s new, recently named, Seona Reid Building, by Steven Holl Architects.

Published at the time of topping out, this slim, pocket-sized volume is a fitting tribute to the germination, growth and realisation of Holl’s intelligent architectural design. The book is illustrated with specially commissioned photographs as well as drawings and sketches. Some of these drawings are the loose, inky architectural sketches from the office of Steven Holl Architects. There are also some of the Mackintosh Building from Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections, such as the one featured below.
Section of Glasgow School of Art, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1910

Section of Glasgow School of Art, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1910

The book contains four essays and an illuminating interview with Steven Holl in which he imparts the concept behind his “thin skin/thick bones” design, reveals some of his working practices and discusses architecture as art form.

Books are priced at £15 and can be purchased from the Glasgow School of Art shop. GSA Library will also be cataloging a couple of copies to place on the shelves in September, once the current refurbishment project is complete. You can find out more about GSA’s campus redevelopment here.

Mostly reblogged from GSA Library’s excellent Architectural Resources blog

Plaster casts turn their backs to us

The plaster casts in the ground floor of the Mackintosh Building seem to be in a bad mood these days. Shying away from the crowds, they have become quite introspective… they have even turned their backs on us! It’s nothing personal however, for this is the work of Brandon Cramm, a Glasgow School of Art MFA student, who has rotated the statues in the ground floor corridors of the Mackintosh Building 180º to reveal the construction of their backs in his work titled Posterior.  His interest in doing this comes from the idea of altering conventional perspectives of art historical objects, and also seeking to consider the position of and attitudes towards Mackintosh as a designer of architecture.

The accompanying text, which is available for visitors on the stationary benches in both corridors, has been written by Simon Buckley, a fellow MFA candidate. As a former tour guide for The Mackintosh Building, he has an insight into the history and context of the space and of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Having a shared interest in the collective appreciation of the Mackintosh legacy, Brandon and Simon were both attracted to the speculative and interpretive nature of how to approach his design decisions today.

The School currently holds in the region of two hundred plaster casts, from fairly small scale architectural pieces to full size statues, representing examples of sculpture from ancient Greece and Rome and from medieval and renaissance Europe. Most of these casts are housed in the corridors of the Mackintosh Building.

Antique class in Studio 40, 1900. Image courtesy of T. & R. ANNAN & SONS Ltd.

Antique class in Studio 40, 1900. Image courtesy of T. & R. ANNAN & SONS Ltd.

In the nineteenth century, drawing was the foundation stone for all of Glasgow School of Art’s courses. Students were encouraged to spend weeks perfecting a life drawing or indeed drawing from ‘the cast’. The archives contain a number of photographs showing students drawing from the plaster casts in the corridors, studios and museum area of the Mackintosh building.  We also have a number of student drawings of plaster casts which date from the early 20th century. If you’re interested in coming to have a look, do get in touch.

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Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh embroidered panels return from Japan

Our beautiful pair of embroidered panels by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, have returned from their exhibition tour of Japan. The exhibition, entitled Klint’s Golden Rider and Vienna: Celebraring the 150th Anniversary of Klimt’s Birth, has been travelling around various galleries and museums in Japan since late 2012.

Since the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art opened 20 years ago, Gustav Klimt’s 1903 painting Life is a Struggle (Golden Rider) has been a beloved museum treasure. Structured around this painting, this exhibition introduces the artist’s stylistic development. The exhibition also examines various influences on the production of the Golden Rider, including the influence of the arts of Japan on those of the West (japonisme), and the activities of the Vienna Secession (founded in 1897 and led by Klimt) and the Wiener Werkstätte (founded in 1903).

Embroidered panels, by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, c1902-1904

Embroidered panels, by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, c1902-1904

Our panels are linen embroidered with silk and metal threads in satin stitch and couching with silk braid, ribbon, silk appliqué, glass beads, square linen buttons painted gold. The faces are painted in watercolour on white kid stretched over card, and date from c1902-1904. Similar panels appear in Mackintosh’s drawings of the east wall of the principal bedroom at The Hill House although it is not certain when they were installed there as early photographs taken in 1904 do not show them. The panels appear to be duplicates of those shown at the Vienna Secession exhibition in 1900 and bought by Emil Blumenfelt; at least one of these (listed as a ‘bed curtain’) was lent by Blumenfelt to the Turin exhibition in 1902 – although it lacks the lower section of black silk seen on The Hill House panels.