Charles had tal­ent – but his wife was a true ge­nius

Evening Times - - FEATURES -

Kelv­in­grove Art Gallery’s new ex­hi­bi­tion, Mak­ing the Glas­gow Style, was ver­i­ta­bly hoachin’

DID you know that Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh took as his motto the line: “There is hope in hon­est er­ror; none in the icy per­fec­tions of the mere stylist”?

I wish my Higher art teacher at “Mag­gie’s” had felt the same. He was that aw­ful combo of a snob and a thug. I took my­self off to Lang­side Col­lege night classes though and man­aged a B de­spite him – or maybe to spite him!

Now I am in no way com­par­ing my own un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated artis­tic ge­nius to his, but isn’t it just like us, that Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh didn’t re­ceive the same recog­ni­tion here in his life­time that he did abroad or even now?

You might not know that Glas­gow had the only Art Nou­veau move­ment in Bri­tain, but you must have no­ticed all the Mack­in­tosh-ma­nia in the city at the mo­ment.

It’s part of a year-long pro­gramme of events called Mack­in­tosh 150. Rarely does Glas­gow feel like Ed­in­burgh, ex­cept when you can­nae find a Scot­tish voice! Well Kelv­in­grove Art Gallery’s new ex­hi­bi­tion, Mak­ing the Glas­gow Style, was ver­i­ta­bly hoachin’ with folk from else­where this week­end!

When I was a teenager, the all-girl band Straw­berry Switch­blade, and my all girl band, So­phis­ti­cated Boom Boom, hung out to­gether, and as both had mem­bers who were at the art school, we chose to hang about there.

We’d all troop down to the school’s re­fec­tory for cheap lunches. I’d go to the de­gree show and pre­tend I was a stu­dent and marvel at the light, height, twists, turns and bal­ance of lines and curves that was the Glas­gow School of Art. For the girl bands, and at a time when we are see­ing trib­utes to “suf­frage” abound, it’s even more dif­fi­cult to ac­cept how lit­tle ac­knowl­edge­ment his fel­low artist and wife, Mar­garet Mack­in­tosh had.

Charles is quoted as hav­ing said that whilst he had tal­ent, he be­lieved Mar­garet had true ge­nius. From tea­spoons to build­ings, the Mack­in­tosh’s im­agery and symbolism, lit­er­ally all hearts and flow­ers, seemed so Celtic and so ob­vi­ously in­clined to­wards the fem­i­nine to me.

There are two say­ings, “God is in the de­tail” and, the “Devil’s in the de­tail”. They seem to con­tra­dict each other but no, it’s clearly down to the de­tail that we see if you have a mas­ter­piece or you’ve made a pig’s ear of it.

On that note the Amer­i­can ar­chi­tect Steven Holl’s new build op­po­site the orig­i­nal school, pur­port­edly de­signed to “wrap” around the old stu­dent union build­ing, leaves me cold. To me it’s like a mean old giant, hav­ing eaten his sand­wiches and then care­lessly dropped his empty Tup­per­ware on top of our beau­ti­ful school.

I was in Sauchiehall Street when the fire at the school’s li­brary hap­pened. Crowds of us stood and openly wept at the sight. Maybe though, out of the ashes with its restora­tion and the re-open­ing to the pub­lic of the Wil­low Tea Rooms, in July, which I can­not wait for, it’ll all help to en­sure we never take the Mack­in­tosh legacy for granted.

So much for my art ca­reer. I never draw now. I con­sole my­self with the con­vic­tion that be­ing able to park a car on a six­pence, which I can do, is from the same skill set!

And fi­nally

YOU know you’re old when you no longer just fall, you are re­ported as “hav­ing a fall”.

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