Cel­e­brate the cre­ative heart of Glas­gow

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DESTINATION | SCOTLAND - AMANDA WOODS

As I walked through House for an Art Lover my mind went from quiet awe to ques­tion time. How could an artist be so dis­tinc­tive and still man­age to sur­prise? How could ev­ery­thing here feel so con­tem­po­rary when it’s the cre­ation of a man born 150 years ago? And how could I live here some day?

While the first two can be an­swered with a rel­a­tively sim­ple “Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh was a ge­nius and a vi­sion­ary”, I might be work­ing on that third one for a while yet.

Based on a port­fo­lio of draw­ings Mack­in­tosh and his wife, Mar­garet Mac­Don­ald, pre­sented for en­try in a Ger­man de­sign com­pe­ti­tion in 1901, House for An Art Lover fi­nally be­came a re­al­ity when it was built in 1996 and joined the col­lec­tion of Mack­in­tosh cre­ations that art and ar­chi­tec­ture lovers can visit in Glas­gow.

Con­sid­ered the found­ing fa­ther of the Glas­gow Style and an in­te­gral part of Britain’s only Art Nou­veau move­ment, Mack­in­tosh was not fully ap­pre­ci­ated in his own city at the time. Now he is con­sid­ered as im­por­tant to Glas­gow as Frank Lloyd Wright is to Chicago or An­toni Gaudi to Barcelona.

This year has seen a year-long pro­gram of events to cel­e­brate the 150th an­niver­sary of his birth. On his birthday, June 7, the doors were re­opened at the orig­i­nal Wil­low Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall St af­ter a £10 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment re­turned the build­ing to its 1903 de­sign.

Vis­i­tors can now take tea in the only tea rooms Mack­in­tosh had com­plete con­trol over, right down to the menu de­sign and wait­ress uni­forms, while sit­ting on orig­i­nal Mack­in­tosh fur­ni­ture de­signs that have been re­stored or recre­ated by mas­ter crafts­men.


Other Mack­in­tosh high­lights in Glas­gow in­clude the Mack­in­tosh House, a metic­u­lous re-cre­ation of the home he shared with his wife filled with their orig­i­nal fur­ni­ture, The Hill House which Mack­in­tosh de­signed for pub­lisher Wal­ter Blackie in 1902, and the Queens Cross Church, which is the only church he ever de­signed and is now a beau­ti­ful mu­sic and live event space as well as be­ing home to the Charles Ren­nie Mack­in­tosh So­ci­ety. While they’re all unique, they all share the Mack­in­tosh qual­i­ties of pro­por­tion, har­mony, pu­rity and light.

Trag­i­cally, the build­ing for which he is best known, the Glas­gow School of Art, was dev­as­tated by an­other fire in June fol­low­ing the blaze that al­most de­stroyed it in 2014. Dur­ing my stay I joined a “Mack­in­tosh at the GSA” tour at the school’s vis­i­tor cen­tre – where we looked at the scaf­folded build­ing op­po­site and learned about the £32 mil­lion re­build­ing project that aimed to re­open “The Mack” next year. A few weeks later, on the other side of the world, I watched the news of the fire in hor­ror, know­ing how


In­side and out, House for An Art Lover is a mas­ter­piece; take tea where even the menu de­sign is Mack­in­tosh’s; Saint Luke’s & The Winged Ox is a mem­o­rable mu­sic venue; and SEC Ar­madillo ex­hibits an­other in­spired build­ing de­sign.

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