Yesterday in Scotland we watched in horror the images on our TVs, computers and phones showing Glasgow School of Art being swallowed by flames.
A number of years ago, my husband and I visited the art school, previously only admired from the outside. It’s difficult to describe the interior of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building; iconic is overused, yet it’s the only word I can find to describe a design that was both Scottish and European, distinctive yet with a modern edge even today.
Mackintosh is lauded as Scotland’s most influential architect and designer, and the art school building, completed in 1909, is considered his greatest masterpiece, a unique working art school as well as a unique work of art in its own right.
For me, it doesn’t detract from this to say that Hill House in Helensburgh, a house built on the Clyde coast for a Scottish book publisher, is pretty magical too, though on a different scale.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s art school is considered a treasure, a work of architectural heritage of world renown, with its influence on 20th century architecture believed immeasurable. The building facade and the fixtures and fittings all sing of the genius of Scotland’s most-lauded designer.
Although there are stories of the fire starting in the basement and blazing through the library, the extent of damage to the library is, as yet, unknown. Until yesterday, Mackintosh’s library was recognised as one of the finest examples of art nouveau in the world.
Thankfully there are no casualties, with everyone said to have escaped safely. When the fire broke out the building was packed, as final year students prepared for their end-of-year degree show. Evacuated students watched on in despair as the iconic building went up in flames, destroying their own works and many other irreplaceable artworks in the building.
In recent years, Glasgow School of Art has produced many of the UK’s leading contemporary artists as well as three recent Turner Prize winners.
This morning the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, praised by all for their work, said more than 90% of the structure was viable and they had protected up to 70% of the contents. So some good news amidst the dire. And Fiona Hislop, the Scottish culture secretary said everything possible must be done to restore the building. Let’s hope work starts on that as soon as possible.
If you want to find out more about Mackintosh and his work, go to –
Glasgow School of Art http://www.gsa.ac.uk
Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society http://www.crmsociety.com
House for an Art Lover http://www.houseforanartlover.co.uk
Glasgow Mackintosh http://glasgowmackintosh.com
The Hunterian, University of Glasgow http://www.gla.ac.uk/hunterian/collections/mackintosh/
The Hill House, The National Trust for Scotland http://www.nts.org.uk/property/the-hill-house/#
The Willow Tea Rooms http://www.willowtearooms.co.uk