Our Paper Based Archives

As promised we have an update on what has been happening with our collections, starting with our paper based archives.

Here at the GSA we have a variety of paper archives and art work on paper. These include over 2000 boxes of records created by the school and its students and staff, such as the archive of the architectural firm Gillespie Kidd & Coia, the school governor’s notes, ephemera, photographs relating to Glasgow and the school’s exhibitions and events, and the bulk of our deposited collections. Alongside this, our stores house architectural plans, pieces of artwork, the student registers and several original works by Mackintosh (including the Magazine, the architectural drawings for the school and his watercolours, some of which are currently being exhibited in the Reid Gallery as part of GENERATION). This material provides the foundation of the school’s history and these items are often the first to be relied on here in the archive for visitor enquiries.

Fortunately the bulk of this material was unharmed by the fire, however a small section was exposed to water after the fire was extinguished and were the first items to be removed from the building.

Air drying the paper based archives.

Air drying the paper based archives

The majority of records touched by water could be air dried but any records that required more extensive conservation were removed offsite to document specialists ‘Harwell’ where they will be frozen so that conservation work can be undertaken. The rest were assessed by paper conservators from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) who helped to repackage and identify any documents at risk. With the risk of repeating myself, once again I really must say thank you to those from the NRS who helped during this time. Your help was very much appreciated.

Due to the potential risk of exposure to water while the materials remained inside the Mack the decision was made to evacuate the building of all materials as quickly as possible. This resulted in the formation, on Tuesday 3rd June, of a human chain travelling from our stores and winding its way down to McLellan Galleries where these materials were stored temporarily.

The Human Chain

The Human Chain

We would once again like to thank all those who helped form this chain and contributed to the truly immense task of emptying both stores in a single day. These include:

·         Historic Scotland crew, who manned the staircases to pass up the boxes and took apart and lifted all of our plan chest drawers down to McLellan Galleries

·         Volunteers from the GSA staff and associated institutions who generously gave their time

The Human Chain

The Human Chain

Due to this immense endeavour the entirety of our collections were removed from the building and set aside for repackaging and labelling.

Repacking and Labelling

Re-labelled paper archives

Re-labelled paper archives

Once these materials were removed they were assessed by external conservators who offered their services before the process of repackaging and labelling went underway. For this, there are many more volunteers we have to thank:

·         The National Galleries

·         The University of Strathclyde

·         The University of Glasgow both staff and students

·         Museum Galleries Scotland

·         Dewar’s Archive

·         The National Records of Scotland

·         Harwell Document Restoration Service

As the bulk of these collections were in a stable condition they have been moved offsite for safe storage.

 

Archives in Storage

Archives in Storage

That is the current stage of our paper archives and next week we will be providing an update on our textile collections.

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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

Tonight: GSA students perform Tableaux Vivant in the Mackintosh Building

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image credit: T R Annan & Son

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Image credit: T R Annan & Son

In order to creatively explore notions of fashion, style, and artistic identity, students in the ‘Artistic Dress’ elective course in Year 3 of the Forum for Critical Enquiry have arranged tableaux vivants throughout the Mackintosh Building. These ‘living pictures’ show the students’ own research into dress history, displaying styles that either inspired or expressed trends that went against fashion norms. The students’ research has been informed by visits to the Archives and Collections Centre to view photographs from our collection as well as textiles and costumes.

GSAA/P/1/2414 GSA students modelling fashion designs in Kelvingrove Park, 1960s

GSAA/P/1/2414 GSA students modelling fashion designs in Kelvingrove Park, 1960s

These ‘living pictures’ show the students’ own research into dress history, displaying styles that either inspired or expressed trends that went against fashion norms. Tableaux vivants were performed to express the creative bohemian spirit of students and staff in the early days of the GSA, during the time of “The Immortals”: Newbery, Mackintosh, the Macdonald sisters and friends. The students are excited to revive this tradition 100 years later, and welcome you to chat with them about their creations.

Artistic dress from four eras will be recreated:

‘The Artistic Dress: Different Times – Different Places’ (Mackintosh Library)

‘WEIMAR: totentanz’ (West Hall, 1st floor)

‘The Factory’ (Mackintosh Lecture Theatre)

‘More than just a Punk’ (West Hall, stairs landing)

TONIGHT, 14 NOVEMBER 2013, 5-7PM IN THE MACKINTOSH BUILDING

Students and staff welcome, external guests please register on the limited guest list at eventbrite: http://gsaartisticdress.eventbrite.co.uk/

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.

Curator Peter Trowles on Czech TV

Glasgow School of Art’s Curator Peter Trowles was recently on Czech TV in a broadcast about Glasgow and Mackintosh. Jump to the 3:50 mark to see Peter get a few words in before the dubbing starts…!

Happy birthday Mr Mackintosh!

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

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

145 years ago today, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born.

A young Mackintosh studied evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art between 1883-1894, winning numerous student prizes and competitions including the prestigious Alexander Thomson Travelling Studentship in 1890 that allowed him to undertake an architectural tour of Italy.

Detail from Mackintosh's Italian sketchbook from his tour of Italy in 1891

Detail from Mackintosh’s Italian sketchbook from his tour of Italy in 1891

While a student, Mackintosh also worked as an apprentice architect, initially for local architect John Hutchison, and then after 1889 for the architectural practice of Honeyman and Keppie. In 1896 Mackintosh gained the commission to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art. This was to be his masterwork. Today visitors can undertake a guided tour of GSA’s Mackintosh Building.

Cabbages in an Orchard, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, from The Magazine, April, 1894

Cabbages in an Orchard, by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, from The Magazine, April, 1894

The School also houses a collection of pieces by Mackintosh including some 200 items of furniture and 100 works on paper. Our archives also hold material relating to Mackintosh’s student career, including a travel sketchbook from his tour of Italy in 1891, flower sketches, a photograph album of Mackintosh and his friends and The Magazine a four volume publication including work by Mackintosh and his fellow students.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and fellow Glasgow School of Art Students, Herbert McNair, Frances Macdonald, Margaret Macdonald, Agnes Raeburn, Janet Aitken, Katherine Cameron and Jessie Keppie. The album is part of a collection of Jessie Keppie’s papers (DC 004) held at GSA's Archives and Collections.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and fellow Glasgow School of Art Students, Herbert McNair, Frances Macdonald, Margaret Macdonald, Agnes Raeburn, Janet Aitken, Katherine Cameron and Jessie Keppie. The album is part of a collection of Jessie Keppie’s papers (DC 004) held at GSA’s Archives and Collections.

Further information on Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s life and work can be found on The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society website.

Artists using Archives: Jade Richardson

NMC 204, War scene with wounded soldiers, by Charles Davidson, 1914

NMC 204, War scene with wounded soldiers, by Charles Davidson, 1914

Jade Richardson is a Product Design student at Glasgow School of Art. She recently undertook a new project about WW1 and was interested in looking at the School during this period, the Roll of Honour in the Mackintosh building, and the students and staff who participated in the war.

We asked Jade about how she’s been using the Archives and Collections Centre in her work.

Why did you use GSA Archives & Collections?

For my last Product Design Year one project, we were told to look at how the upcoming World War 1 centenary could be commemorated in a more personal and less generic way. Being new to the School, I knew that it had a rich history but was unaware of its participation, if any, in the World War. I decided to look into this history in order to create a personal experience for GSA students to commemorate the war. Along with the Library’s rare books collection, I also used the Archives and Collections to find documents that linked the School to the war and explained its participation.

Had you used archives or museum collections previously?

I had been to the archives once before during a GSA tour guide meeting where we saw some of the School’s architecture plans as well as learnt more about Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It was because of this original discovery that I knew the Archives would be my largest source of information for my Product Design project.

SONY DSC

What was your experience of visiting the Archives & Collections Centre?

I was constantly blown away by the amount of information the Archives hold, especially about World War 1. The working space was perfect: quiet, well lit, big table, comfy chairs. I almost did not want to leave! The staff was always on hand to answer any questions I had as well as take me up to the Library Store where the Eugene Bourdon memorial is. Overall my experience was extremely positive and fruitful! The appointments were easy to set up and I could tell that the staff were thinking about my project almost as much as me, wondering what other documents they had that might be of interest to me.

What did you find out from our holdings?

Initially I was only using the Archives to discover information about the School and World War 1. I learnt more about the unnoticed Roll of Honour on the Ground Floor as well as facts about some of the students and staff on the Roll. My favourite finding was of floor plans showing how the School was used to house the Students’ Tryst Fund in 1914. They were exactly what I needed for my project and gave it a clear structure. In the end my project’s aim was no longer to solely commemorate the war but also the School and everything that has happened since then.

Floor plans show how the Mackintosh Building was transformed for the Belgian Tryst in 1914

Floor plans show how the Mackintosh Building was transformed for the Belgian Tryst in 1914

Has your visit led you to using other Archive / Museum sources?

My visit encouraged me to look online, especially at the Hunterian’s collection of Mackintosh drawings. But since my project was so specific to GSA, no other source gave me all the information as a whole. The few sources online were always confusing and incomplete, inviting me to speak directly to the Archives’ staff.

For her project, Jade proposed MackInTime, a phone application that allows you to learn, explore and discover more about the Mackintosh Building. It allows you to customize your tour, giving you the freedom of time and what to read and look into. This app also gives you access to online resources like the Hunterian Museum as well as Glasgow School of Art’s Archives and Collections blog and Flickr.

You can watch a video about the app on Jade’s Tumblr. You can also read Jade’s project process journal: Lest We Forget – Beyond Memorial

Mackintosh clocks feature on BBC News

ClockYou may remember our previous post about the Mackintosh Clocks Project. Well,  after many months of hard work by horologists Nick Sanders and Ken Chappelle, the clocks are ready to be installed.

Yesterday we welcomed BBC Scotland’s Arts Correspondent Pauline McLean to the Archives and Collections Centre where she interviewed Curator Peter Trowles about the project. She also spoke to Nick and Ken on location in Ken’s workshop. You can read today’s BBC news article here.

The clocks are also to be featured on today’s Reporting Scotland.

Horologist Kenneth Chapelle conserving one of the clocks. Image courtesy of BBC.

Horologist Kenneth Chapelle conserving one of the clocks. Image courtesy of BBC.

In June 2011, the Archives and Collections Centre was awarded a grant by Museums Galleries Scotland under its Recognition scheme. The amount awarded was £16,800.

The Mackintosh Studio Clocks restoration project intends to conserve and reinstate the original studio clocks, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1910. The importance of these wooden clocks is that they were run as an electrically operated ‘master and slave’ system – a rare and important technical innovation of the time. The 19 distinctive square studio clocks are linked to a master clock which should send an electrical pulse ensuring they all show the same time. As horologist Nick Sanders has said “With this system they all move together, they are all very precise and very, very accurate.”

Since the early 1990s the clocks have no longer worked (caused mainly by the failure of various technical components). The project seeks to reinstate the clocks back to their original working condition and to provide evidence as to their significance to early 20th century British horology.

testing, testing… tick tock, tick tock

Mackintosh Studio Clocks restoration project (2011-13)

In June 2011, the Archives and Collections Centre was awarded a grant by Museums Galleries Scotland under its Recognition scheme. The amount awarded was £16,800.

The Mackintosh Studio Clocks restoration project intends to conserve and reinstate the original studio clocks, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1910. The importance of these wooden clocks is that they were run as an electrically operated ‘master and slave’ system – a rare and important technical innovation of the time.

Since the early 1990s the clocks have no longer worked (caused mainly by the failure of various technical components). The project seeks to reinstate the clocks back to their original working condition and to provide evidence as to their significance to early 20th century British horology.

After many months of hard work, today sees the first of the clocks being tested in our Archives and Collections Centre… and by jove it works! A momentous day indeed.

Horologist Nick Sanders and GSA Curator Peter Trowles work on one of the original Mackintosh clocks in the Archives and Collections Centre

Horologist Nick Sanders and GSA Curator Peter Trowles work on one of the original Mackintosh clocks in the Archives and Collections Centre