ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE
Celebrate the creative heart of Glasgow
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.
NO MATTER IF YOU’RE INTO INDIE OR ELECTRONICA, CELTIC OR CLASSICAL, THERE’S A VENUE WAITING FOR YOU
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.