I headed up to Glasgow on Friday, leaving the blue sunny skies of Hampshire and landing at a cold, wet Glasgow! However the I found the Scotts’ hospitality warm and inviting! We were up to meet Mr D’s family, they were so welcoming it was easy to feel at home.
Glasgow has been given the title of City of Culture, and was host to the Commonwealth Games last year, as well as being the home of Mackintosh. There are some beautiful buildings, stunning red bricked Victorian tenements with beautiful 8 foot ceiling proportions. Turrets and large bay windows abound, like magical castles there is so much to delight the eye.
“The Hunterian Art Gallery houses one of the most important collections of the work of Scottish architect, designer and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) and his artist-wife, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh (1864-1933).” you can visit the site here.
The house was absolutely wonderful, it was extraordinary being able to walk round their home as if we were visiting! Although the home was a Victorian villa, Mackintosh made many alterations to the property re-defining the space entirely. It feels as if there is a Japanese influence, with black block back chairs and white. He added windows and adjusted the ceiling heights to create a light airy space. They used the house as a ‘shop front’ for their designs and often commissions were duplicated so that they had copies in their home. The dining room was soft green tones, with dark furniture, the walls had a dark stencilled design. The first floor was a lovely surprise, painted entirely white with white drapes and a few items of furniture painted black. The top floor was entirely white with beautiful roses decorating the bed, wardrobe and dressing table. When you consider most of the usual Victorian interiors were dark and cluttered, the Mackintosh style must have been revolutionary.
I also enjoyed seeing Margaret MacDonald’s plaster frieze on the walls, she was influenced by Aubrey Beardsley (caution!) with the curves and lines, but I also noticed her focus on hands and feet with decoration detail creating the rest of the form. Considering she was painting pieces like this, you can’t help but surmise the influence she had on Klimt, especially the Beethoven Frieze her work pre-dates his by 10 years.
The Mackintosh couple had tremendous success, with commissions for the Glasgow School of Art and a Mrs Cranston’s Tea rooms. Thankfully the Willow Tearoom still survives, and I was thrilled to take my tea enjoying their beautiful lines. All these pictures are from the Tea rooms.
These were a wonderful invention, the temperance movement needed alternatives to public houses and tea rooms became very popular. They were designed for ladies who lunch, as well as a place to have business meetings.
There were newspapers and reading material available for customers, as well as billiard tables.
When you consider that most homes were cramped it must have been a wonderful escape.
I love the striking colours on this fireplace, stark, black and white with cool blue the red coming from the fire must have been a wonderful contrast.
The straight lines combine with curves and organic flower shapes. (here you can see the oval from the honesty flowers)
You can see the beautiful entrance doors – notice how the proportions are played with by altering the width of the windows on either side of the the handles.
The illusion elongates the glass and makes the doors appear taller.
Here you can see the famous Rose design in the door panel detail.
This works beautifully with the linear organic honesty.
This is one of the fireplaces, I love the use of the mirror and silver.
You can see the beautiful Stained Glass window here, as well as the lovely wet Glasgow weather!
The Glasgow Girls were also revolutionary, the Girls were taught the applied arts, at a time when many women were barred from Universities. Margaret and her sister Frances both attended learning from skilled craftsmen – they were both able to make every aspect of their objects including copper work and pewter. Margaret created pewter panels for some of the Mackintosh furniture. Charles Mackintosh was studying Architecture together with his friend James Nash, so the two friends married the two sisters.
I can definitely recommend a visit to Glasgow, although more balmy May might be better weather.
You can find out more about Mackintosh style here