Adventures, art, Sunday Sevens

Sunday Sevens – Glasgow and Mackintosh


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!

ttfn x

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!




Adventures, afternoon tea

Glasgow Girl

Glasgow Girl!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.

Willow Tea Rooms

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.

Mackintosh Fireplace

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)

Entrance Doors

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.

Famous Rose

Here you can see the famous Rose design in the door panel detail.

This works beautifully with the linear organic honesty.

Fire place detail

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!

Willow Tea Rooms
Willow Tea Rooms

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