Charles had talent – but his wife was a true genius
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!
YOU know you’re old when you no longer just fall, you are reported as “having a fall”.