We headed north for Mr D’s family gathering, it is the second time I have left a beautiful sunny day only to find Glasgow drizzly and grey, but the weather in Glasgow is its only downfall. It is a wonderful city the people are friendly, they have a sense of humour, this is a famous landmark – Wellington on his horse adorned with traffic cone! It was one of the challenges after a boozy night to place a cone on his head that in the end the cone was left as part of the statue and to save Glaswegian’s from injuring themselves, it is quite high up! The statue sums up the sense of humour the Scotts have towards the English – irreverent!
The architecture around the City is abundant with delights especially if you like Art Nouveau – it can be discovered everywhere: this lovely building is just an ordinary pub! Glasgow is home of some of the most wonderful examples of the Glasgow Four – Mackintosh being the most well known. He designed the School of Art building (under reconstruction after the fire last year) Several Mrs Cranstons Tea rooms, as well as other projects in the city. Some regarded him as the father of Art Deco movement – you can see that in the wonderful use of simplistic lines, geometry and organic shapes. His house, set within the Huntarian transforms a traditional Victorian Villa into the cool clean lines of Art Deco – with clever use of colour and optical illusion.
There are small items to spot every few yards – this beautiful Art Nouveau detail was situated on a large building – I could not resist the curving lines and the way the numbers flow into each other.
If you love architecture then you have to look upwards, this beautiful Art Nouveau building shows just how much it influenced the Art Deco period, those long windows and angular lines echo the aesthetics of Mackintosh we later see at Hill House, see below.
Just ten minutes outside of Glasgow the landscape is transformed into wild hills and breathtaking views – we drove along the road past Loch Lomond and on to Helensburgh and Hill House. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, it is a complete example of Mackintosh’s work – he was commissioned by Glasgow Publisher Walter Blackie who remained living at the house until the National Trust took it over. Art Nouveau Artists believed their art should encompass every aspect of the house from the building right down to the tiny details of the room decoration; the internal design was as carefully planned as the house house itself. Even the kitchen shelving contained small flower shaped motifs – even though the owners would never set foot inside as they employed a cook.
I believe Margaret contributed equally to her husband’s work; he praised her often believing she was the real talent of the two although her work was mostly disregarded until a few years ago when the May Queen was bought for 1 million. It was an absolute thrill to see her artwork up close – she was exceptional -one of the few women to attend Glasgow School of Art in the late Victorian age when women’s education, even for the wealthy, was limited. She learned smithing, needlework as well as traditional painting and drawing. The are panels on the walls – her gesso plasterwork was a delight the curved lines and swirls of fay women – reminded me of Beardsley’s Fairy tales. The embroidery on the chairs and two beautiful panels in the main bedroom were her own design as well as curtains featuring flowing geometrics and curving organic shapes in black and white.
The classic rose motif stencilled on to the walls – is a element throughout the house, the palette is muted, predominantly black and white with a tiny dots of rose coloured blocks or flowers. The furniture was created to cast shadows that danced with the squares on the carpet, shifting as the sun moved across the sky – while the lamps featured rose circles reminiscent of honesty flowers – their discs harmonising with the straight lines of the lamps continued the effect at night.
On the eastern side of the house a round tower soars above the roof, with a spiral staircase – connecting the nursery to the schoolroom – it is also echoed by a smaller tower in the garden that acts as a toolshed. He designed the nursery on the Eastern side of the house to benefit from the early morning sun – while the Master Bedroom on the opposite side would capture the setting sun. All the living areas face south to make the most of the sunlight.
Despite their talent Margaret and Rene died in relative poverty, the first world war brought Art Nouveau to an abrupt end – it seems such a pity that they were not given the recognition in their lifetime, they could have had the commercial success of William Morris, but their influence and vision continued through to the Art Deco movement at its height in the 1930s.
There was so much to delight the eye – meticulous attention to detail from every nook! It is so inspirational that I am sketching again with an idea of a painting forming.
For any Art Nouveau lover – Hill House it is well worth a visit – the gardens have the most wonderful view across the river and are beautiful even in cold frosty April.
My only advice is – no- matter how delightfully sunny the weather when you set off – always take an umbrella when you visit Glasgow!
Sunday sevens is the brain child of Nat at Threads and Bobbins a round up of your life in 7 pictures, posted on a Sunday. I don’t post every week – (my life isn’t that exciting) but I do post when there is more in my life than cake baking, washing and housework!