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.

Our Plaster Casts and Objects

The Mackintosh Building has always hosted a number of plaster casts comprising human figures, architectural fragments, plaster reliefs, plaster friezes, marble reliefs, tondos and busts. These figures have occupied the halls of the Mack from the late 19th century onwards.

Plaster Cast

Medici Venus (PC/196)

Used as teaching aids the casts are generally based on classical statuary and were sourced from Roman, Greek and later Italian and Medieval periods. While it is not unusual for art schools to hold plaster casts such as these, because ours have always occupied the school they regularly appear in the archive’s photograph collections.

The East Basement Corridor of the Mackintosh Building (GSAA/P/7/109)

The East Basement Corridor of the Mackintosh Building (GSAA/P/7/109)

Their presence dominating both the corridors and the classroom.

Students at work in the Antique Studio, now known as Studio 40 (GSAA/P/7/224)

Students at work in the Antique Studio, now known as Studio 40 (GSAA/P/7/224)

During the evacuation of the Mackintosh building as many of the plaster casts and other objects from the collection were removed. Others still remain inside because they were in too fragile a condition to move and it was safer for them to remain in situ where the environment is stable.

For those taken out of the building, like all our objects and collections they have been examined by specialist conservators who have advised on how they should be treated. For this work we would like to thank:

-Graciella Ainsworth Sculpture Conservation

-Glasgow Museums

-As well as all the volunteers who assisted the archives with removing the collections from the building.

Lion and Serpent (PC/058)

Lion and Serpent (PC/058)

All the casts that could be removed have now been transferred to an offsite location where their condition will be assessed.

Giuliano de' Medici (PC/039)

Giuliano de’ Medici (PC/039)

Alongside our plaster casts all of the majority of our object collections were successfully removed from the building, and during the process of wrapping we came across some unusual objects! Can you guess what this is?

Mystery Object

Our object collections include ceramics, small chest of drawers, coin and medal casts, brooches and more. All of these have survived the fire unscathed.

 

The Reid Building has Landed

This Wednesday the Reid Building officially joined the GSA campus with much celebration and fanfare. Built over the course of two years the construction has been watched with much anticipation.

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Now that it is complete it presents the Mackintosh Building in sharp relief and sits proudly on top of Garnethill, providing excellent views of its neighbour and the surrounding city.

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The Reid Building and The Mackintosh Building

Here in the archive a camera has been watching the progress of the building using time-lapse photography as part of the upcoming documentary, ‘Facing Up to Mackintosh’. Screening this Sunday 13th at the GFT as part of the Art Screen Festival, this documentary charts the challenge of designing a building to sit opposite the Mackintosh.

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Image: Art Screen poster, BBC

Featuring conversations with the architect Steven Holl and notable artists from the GSA alumni Ross Sinclair and Martin Boyce, the process of constructing The Reid, and some of the responses to this building will be examined.