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.

Advertisements

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.

New display in GSA Library: Anatomy at The Glasgow School of Art

You may have noticed a couple of new displays in GSA Library over the last few weeks. While one of these displays, the one on Level 2, is devoted to Talwin Morris and bookbinding, GSA Archives and Collections and Library staff have dedicated the other to anatomy.

Anatomy drawing has historically formed an important part of art education. Up until 1900, Glasgow School of Art followed the National Course of Instruction, or the South Kensington system. Of the 23 stages that the system prescribed, Stage 9, “Anatomical studies”, included drawing from the human figure, animal forms and from nature.

GSAA/P/1/783 – Photographs of students in the Anatomy Room, c1910

GSAA/P/1/783 – Photographs of GSA students in the Anatomy Room, c1910

Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections holds a selection of material related to the history of anatomy drawing at the School, including prospectuses which outline the place of anatomy drawing in the School’s curriculum; photographs of students drawing in the School’s Anatomy Room; anatomy drawings by former students of the School; lantern slides of anatomical subjects; and some correspondence related to the teaching of anatomy drawing, such as a letter from the Director to Professor Bryce, Regius Professor of Anatomy at Glasgow University, requesting permission for GSA anatomy students to work at the
University.

Cricket, Over Arm Bowling n°69, plate 290 – assorted plate from Animal locomotion: an  electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements by  Eadweard Muybridge, c1887

Cricket, Over Arm Bowling n°69, plate 290 – assorted plate from Animal locomotion: an
electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements by
Eadweard Muybridge, c1887

GSA Library holds a number of rare anatomical treatises in its Special Collections, which have served as inspiration to renowned artists such as Christine Borland and more recently Kate Davis for her exhibition ‘Not Just the Perfect Moments’ in 2012. The Library is also lucky to hold a number of original 1887 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal photographic study Animal Locomotion. In total the library holds a representative selection of 63 plates from Muybridge’s total set of 781, which were purchased for the use of GSA students in June 1917. More information about the Muybridge plates can be found on the GSA Library Treasures blog.

The display is located on the mezzanine level of the Library (Level 1), just before the stairs up to Level 2. An introduction, captions and bibliographies with suggestions for further reading can also be found in the ‘Library Display Cabinets’ folder as part of the Archives and Collections course on the VLE. Call in at the librarians’ office on Level 2 or at the Archives and Collections Centre in the basement of the Mackintosh Building for more information (you can also email Delpine Dallison, d.dallison@gsa.ac.uk, or Michelle Kaye, m.kaye@gsa.ac.uk with any questions).

Look out for future posts about our library displays here and on the Library’s GSA Library Treasures blog.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Archive & Library event

The staff of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Archive & Library are holding an event at Modern Two on Tuesday 19th November, 6-8pm.

The event is aimed at academic staff and postgraduate students who have a specific research interest in modern and contemporary art and culture, and will provide an introduction to the research opportunities, materials and services available in the Reading Room. Refreshments will be served in the Great Hall before moving on to view some of the highlights of our collections. Even if you are already familiar with the Archive & Library, it’s a great opportunity to chat to staff, and some of our curators will also be on hand to discuss the Gallery’s current and forthcoming exhibition programme.

Please call 0131 624 6253 to RSVP.

Details of the research resources available at the National Galleries of Scotland and the online catalogues can be found at: http://www.nationalgalleries.org/research/libraries-archives. For more information on the National Galleries of Scotland in general visit their website.

 

Some interesting resources about interventions in libraries and archives

 

Student intervention in the library. Photo © Sarah Ainslie, 2011

Student intervention in the library. Photo © Sarah Ainslie, 2011

The Artist in the Library blog documents a project that reflected on the relationships between artists and libraries; how their spaces, systems and structures provide inspirational possibilities for artists, and how artists’ involvement, working processes and interventions can be fruitful and inspiring for libraries.

A key component of the project was the collaboration between the Institute for Performing Arts Development and Library and Learning Services at the University of East LondonIn spring 2011 a group of 1st year undergraduate students worked for a period of 12 weeks developing individual projects that came from, and were to be sited in, UEL’s Docklands library. These were realised as part of ‘Mayfest’ 2011, UEL’s annual festival of Performing Arts.

In June 2011 a half-day symposium brought together more than 80 artists, librarians and researchers from around the UK with presentations and discussions exploring a range of projects that intervene in, respond to, or collaborate with all kinds of libraries.

cropped-100_1154Meanwhile, Archive Interventions is a project run by a PhD candidate in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester.

Until quite recently, slides were the mainstay of teaching in art history. The department’s collection contains many unique images built up by members of staff over many years. This resource was also extensively used by staff teaching visual culture in other subject areas. In the space of less than ten years, slide technology has become rapidly and completely obsolete. As of next year, no centrally timetabled teaching rooms will be equipped with slide projectors. Currently, the slides are almost completely unused, depriving students of an invaluable resource, so they are presently sorting through the collection to identify slides for possible digitisation and preservation. They are also developing a programme of events with a focus upon how arts and visual culture resources can be used for teaching and research; the role of old and new technologies; issues around archiving.

The blog showcases some of the material held in their collection, and also offers some interesting thoughts on visual culture archives and shares finds from other blogs about how artists are using, interacting with and intervening in archives and libraries.

Thomas Annan’s images of Glasgow’s past

Image credit: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Image credit: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Thomas Annan – The Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow, Sp Coll Dougan 64

The Glasgow photographer Thomas Annan’s collection of photographs featuring the old closes and streets of Glasgow held in the University of Glasgow Library’s Special Collections is a wonderful resource. Created between 1868 and 1871 as part of a commission from the City of Glasgow Improvements Trust, this collection of images of the working class areas of old Glasgow helped document the impoverished living conditions of the working class at the time.

In 1866, the City of Glasgow passed an act through Parliament which authorised it to destroy the appalling slums of the City Parish. When it was decided in 1868 to make an effort to document the character and conditions of the old town, Thomas Annan was the obvious choice. Annan had previously photographed some of the busier thoroughfares of Glasgow, providing us with some historic record of the city’s more populous streets. When his focus was shifted to the confining closes, he provided us with another kind of record: the earliest comprehensive series of photographs of an urban slum – the very slum which was considered to be the worst in Britain.

Image credit: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Image credit: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Thomas Annan’s son James Craig Annan is the photographer behind many of the most famous images of our very own Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Image courtesy T. & R. Annan & Sons Ltd.

Image courtesy T. & R. Annan & Sons Ltd.

For more information visit the University of Glasgow Library’s Special Collections website. Check out their online collection highlights and virtual displays for more inspiration.

Glasgow Library Tweetups: The Turn of the Art School

We’re excited about hosting the 10th Glasgow Library Tweetup (#GLTU) tomorrow in the Archives & Collections Centre.

Glasgow Library Tweetups are an opportunity for information professionals from all over Glasgow to meet up and visit a particular library or information service and then socialise after the event. Founder, Anabel Marsh, was a Librarian at Strathclyde University for many years and is very interested in the use of social media in libraries. Anabel can be followed on Twitter @AnabelMarsh and the link to the GLTU blog is here.

Follow @GSALibrary for imminent tweets about tomorrow’s event!

Reblogged from GSA Library’s news blog

Staff outing to St Peter’s Seminary, Cardross

Last Saturday, a troupe of intrepid ramblers, otherwise known as GSA Library & Learning Resources team, embarked on a self-guided tour of the Kilmahew Estate in Cardross. We had absconded from Garnethill with one simple mission: to find the ruins of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s masterpiece, St Peter’s Seminary. And, of course, to discuss it over lunch! It’s fair to say that this had all the hallmarks of a Gillespie, Kidd & Coia pilgrimage being made in the footsteps of early Christian missionaries, Scots nobility and trainee priests as we soon discovered from our appointed tour-guide, Architecture Librarian David Buri!

We set off in the morning under a murky-looking sky and proceeded into the woods at Kilmahew Estate – a moving sea of cagoules and backpacks. Thankfully for us, the weather was on our side, and as we progressed further from the perimeter and through the rhododendrons, the only thing we had to fear was the odd crack of a golf-ball from Cardross Golf Course, in dangerously close proximity to the track! Stepping through the undergrowth, we tried to recreate in our minds the original grandeur of the the estate’s ornamental gardens, driveways and parkland. Two exceptionally tall redwood trees flanking the path at the original entrance were a reminder of the estate’s historic roots and the status it would have enjoyed, only decades ago.

At the top of the route we reached our destination: the dramatic ruins of St Peter’s Seminary, built in the 1960s and abandoned since 1980. The post-apocalyptic scene we encountered is something to behold: a derelict building, ravished by time, blemished by grafitti, yet still powerfully capable of inducing frissions down the spine. Perhaps it’s down to our current fetish for all things Brutalist, but this was similar to experiencing the sublime in nature – achieved through architecture!

The photos we’re used to seeing in the GKC Archive in GSA’s Archive and Collection Centre are black and white so we were unprepared for Kilmahew Estate’s vivid colours. Sienna-cobbled stonework, red tree-bark, green, lilac and pink shrubbery and neon grafitti have created a unique collage: something like a forgotten space-ship crash in medieval times or the set of a science-fiction film! At close range, it’s overwhelmingly apparent why the seminary is often given the accolade of being the best example of work by partners Andy MacMillan and Izi Metzstein and is revered by many as the most important piece of twentieth-century modernist architecture in post-war Britain. The contrasting curved and angular walls of the complex envelope the ruins of the once standing Kilmahew House which once stood as the structure’s fourth wall. The majestic design and the scale of the concrete build is incredible; as too is the clear level of disrepair. We were thrilled, surprised and dismayed all at once!

As one of the few post-war buildings to be granted A-listed status, there is something melancholic and aesthetically-alluring about the seminary’s abandonment, demise and unorthodox appropriation by grafitti artists. While its conservation seems to be something of an architectural frisbee, plans to conserve it as a community space were submitted by landscape architects erz in February of this year. To read more about the proposed rehabilitation of St Peter’s, make sure to check for updates on Glasgow Architecture’s website.

Reincarnation emerged as a recurrent theme as we followed the tour onwards. The entire Kilmahew Estate has had many incarnations – each new vision and design has been followed by decline and ruin. After the excitement of the seminary, we also discovered the ruins of nearby Kilmahew Castle, and explored the gardens where an ornamental pond, waterfall and rhododendron tunnel can be found. It was then onto a nearby farm-shop and tearoom for a well-deserved lunch and post-tour analysis! We even found time to stop at nearby Geilston Hall on the road back to Glasgow, a drill-house designed by a young Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1889.

The tour is free to download from The Royal Geographical Society’s website as part of the Discovering Britain project. You can download written and audio guides from the website. The booklet (available to download here: Kilmahew – walk booklet and in stock in GSA Library) includes the black and white images of St Peter’s Seminary from the GSA Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive. Check the ACC blog for related GKC posts.

 Reblogged from GSA Library’s Architectural Resources blog. 

Mackintosh Building windows undergo conservation

GSA Library windows 170613The massive library windows of the Mackintosh Building here at Glasgow School of Art are currently undergoing conservation. The 30ft high windows will be removed and taken to specialist conservators, who will replace cracked panes and restore metal frames.

Last week preparation for the works began by protecting the woodwork, floors and lights in the library and bringing in protective screens which will replace the windows while they are being restored.

The work has been funded by Historic Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and The Getty Foundation.

For more pictures of conservators at work see this article in The Herald.

The woodwork, floors and lights in the Mackintosh library have been protected and there will be screens to replace the windows while they are being restored.

The woodwork, floors and lights in the Mackintosh library have been protected and there will be screens to replace the windows while they are being restored.

The Colour Reference Library

The Colour Reference Library (CRL) at the Royal College of Art is one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of colour-related publications in the world. Containing well over a thousand books, together with pamphlets, swatches and journals, the library covers numerous aspects of the vast field of colour-based studies, encompassing art and science, theory and practice.

The collection’s many strengths include sections on colour and human psychology, the history of dyestuffs, and the 19th-century study of decorative ornament, with tangential subjects ranging from colour healing to camouflage. The greatest colour theorists, from Newton and Goethe to Chevreul and Albers, are well represented through their key works, alongside other significant, if lesser-known, figures such as Mary Gartside and Maxwell Armfield. The CRL also includes a wide selection of published colour systems and standards, ranging in subject from lead paint to the pigmentation of human skin. Despite its apparent focus on a single subject, the span and application of the collection is considerable: it is at once historical and contemporary, practical and theoretical, arcane and accessible.

RCA Special Collections is located on the top floor of the Library in the Common Room Block of the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2EU. Please e-mail special-collections@rca.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)20 7590 4234 to arrange a visit. See the Colour Reference Library website for more information.

Closer to home, GSA Library also holds lots of reference material relating to colour and colour theory in Special Collections. See the guide to the collection here. Glasgow even has its very own Colour Studies Group. See their website for more information.