Never having visited Glasgow before, I was delighted when Ann suggested a weekend visit to the city. Gosh! Mackintosh! His work is everywhere. I was familiar with his flower paintings created during his time in Walberswick in Suffolk. Last year I read Esther Freud’s ‘Me and Mr Mac’ a fictionalised story of his time there.
And who hasn’t heard of Willow Tea Rooms and The Glasgow School of Art? One wing of The School was severely damaged by fire in May 2014.
217 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow School of Art
But there are many more places to visit and, in addition, if you look carefully as you walk around the city, you can see small glimpses of his ‘art nouveau’ distinctive style.
From our arrival at our B&B The Glasgow Tenement B&B, where we were warmly welcomed by Linda, to our Monday morning departure allowing us time to visit The Lighthouse Mackintosh Centre near Queen Street Station, we followed a Mackintosh Trail of our own making with a few other distractions thrown in for good measure.
The most useful publication, which I picked up on Friday from the Lighthouse reception desk, was The Guide to Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow which includes a listing and map. Most of the brief quotations below describing each location have been taken from this leaflet.
The Hunterian Art Gallery
It was possible to walk to and/or take the Subway between locations so we planned a trail for Saturday which started with a walk to The Hunterian Gallery. This is part of The University of Glasgow. Arriving at 10.50 we applied to join the 11am half-hourly tour of The Mackintosh House.
“The interiors of 6, Florentine Terrace, Glasgow – home of Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald from 1906 to 1914 – meticulously reassembled within the University’s Hunterian Art Gallery.“
We were shown the hallway, dining room, sitting room and bedroom. There’s a slideshow here showing the light and dark features of the different room settings.
No photography was allowed in the Hunterian re-creation but I made up for this in locations where it was, for example in the Glasgow School of Art Reid Building Furniture Gallery. The tour of the School was our next port-of-call via the Subway. Various tours are organised by the School of Art but we plumped for the 2pm Mackintosh at The GSA Tour.
The controversial Reid Building completed in early 2014
“Discover Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s famous furniture designs and the history of his architectural masterwork, with The Glasgow School of Art’s award-winning student-led guided tours.
Join an hour-long ‘Mackintosh at the GSA’ tour to investigate the story of the Mackintosh building and the architects life and work, from student to master designer. Examine the exterior details of the Mackintosh building and uncover Mackintosh’s famous designs with exclusive access to GSA’s new furniture gallery.”
This Side of the Art School demonstrates Mackintosh’s interpretation of Scottish Baronial Style
Outside on the pavement our student guide told us about the fire and the damage caused, in particular and most sadly, to the Mackintosh showpiece Library. The major features of the remaining wing were then described and pointed out to us. Widely considered to be his greatest architectural work The Glasgow School of Art, built 1897-1909, bookends his architectural career. Heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts style, Japanese detailing and Scottish baronial architecture, this work of ‘total design’ showcases Mackintosh’s holistic approach. He designed the buildings and everything within them including the furnishings and accessories.
The GSA Furniture Gallery
The Master and Slave Clocks and CRM Chairs
Stool for The Willow Tea Rooms: ebonised oak, with horsehair upholstery, 1903. This decorative, but uncomfortable, stool was thought, to be used by by waitresses during breaks between serving customers.
Curved Lattice-Back Chair, Willow Tea Rooms. 1904. One of Mackintosh’s most iconic designs was used by the supervisor who processed customer orders. The chequered design of the semi-circular back forms a stylised ‘willow tree’ motif.
Note the Japanese influence [kimono shape] of this dresser/sideboard
From the GSA it’s just a short walk down to the original, Mackintosh-designed Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street where we were booked for Afternoon Tea in the Room De Luxe on the second floor.
On Sunday morning Linda advised us of an alternative route to reach the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum without retracing our steps of the day before. Here the work Mackintosh, and his wife, Margaret feature in a special gallery.
“The Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style Gallery is the world’s largest permanent display of work by the key names of the Glasgow Style. This internationally important collection includes tearoom interiors by Mackintosh, gesso panels by Margaret Macdonald and exquisite glass, enamels, metalwork, ceramics and furniture by their contemporaries.”
Foreground : Tea Room Setting. Behind : MM’s Gesso Panels
The Original GSA Library – photograph
The Lighthouse, originally designed by Mackintosh for the Glasgow Herald, houses The Mackintosh Centre.
“It offers a mixture of objects, unique architectural models and a timeline of his life” in addition to video narratives of various aspects of CRM’s work are further examples of his furniture and plans and models of Unbuilt Mackintosh.
“Unbuilt Mackintosh showcases stunning architectural models based on the unbuilt designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The models produced by Glasgow-based model-makers Ozturk, are fantastically accurate and help us to appreciate Mackintosh’s architectural vision.”
See the Centre for yourself on a virtual tour here.
In fact, we only touched the tip of the Mackintosh iceberg. There are other venues to visit such as The Glasgow Art Club, The Hill House out at Helensburgh (formerly housed a Landmark Trust apartment now run by the Scottish National Trust), The House for an Art Lover and The Scotland Street School and others besides and these are just the Glasgow work of the prolific architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Amazingly, we managed to see and do other things in Glasgow besides!
A packed trip as always 😊.
Pity you didn’t get to see the School of Art before the fire. We visited a few years ago and it was fantastic.
I’m off to Glasgow at the end of April for a Conference. I won’t have much time for sightseeing this time, though, unfortunately ☹
Yes. I was so sorry not to see it ‘before’ but the School are making every effort to be positive about the future. Where I go … you follow … and vice versa, or so it seems ;-).
You’re not wrong Barbara. We do seem to follow each other around! Even turing up to the YSP at more or less the same time once!
That’s quite a lot of Mackintosh! Wonderful to see so much, but also sad to think that during his own lifetime especially as he grew older there was little appreciation.
Yes, and then I read this in the following week’s Independent (late, lamented).
[…] addition to all the Mackintosh connections in Glasgow we found time to explore the permanent collections at both the Hunterian […]
How I envy you the tip to Willow Tea Room!
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