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.

Donald Melvin: GSA student material

This week we’ve been cataloguing and repackaging a collection of works by Donald Melvin completed during his time as a student at Glasgow School of Art in the 1960s. The collection includes works carried out as part of classes such as, for example, Interior Design, the History of Furniture, Environmental Study and Woodcarving.

Environmental Study, Hilstons The Chemists Lanark, c1965-66

Environmental Study, Hilstons The Chemists Lanark, chalk on paper, c1965-66

The collection also includes sketches carried out during GSA summer schools abroad in Florence and in Norway, and some sketches of the area around the Glasgow School of Art campus in Garnethill.

Sketch of Florence, GSA Summer School, c1967-68

Sketch of Florence, GSA Summer School, c1967-68

View from Top Floor Studios, c1960s

View from Top Floor Studios, c1960s

The sketches for interiors are overtly typical of their time and feature iconic furniture such as chairs designed by Charles Eames and chaise lounges by Mies van der Rohe. It’s great for us to have this material as Interior Design was, until now, rather under-represented in our collections.

Flat for Henry Hellier, Interior Design Dept. GSA, 1967

Flat for Henry Hellier, Interior Design Dept. GSA, 1967

The catalogue will be available to view on the Archives Hub soon.