Tam's Tall Tales

- Glasgow School of Art - Some Pearls From the Ashes

Glasgow School of Art Frontage - Before the Fire

Restoration of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Masterpiece

It's not every day that we see Brad Pitt on TV eulogising the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh but bless him, as he was part of the process to raise funds to restore the Glasgow School of Art. (Graphic of Brad Pitt at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival by Georges Biard, via Wikimedia Commons).

The building was devastated by fire on May of this year and will take some years before it will be safe enough for the students to return.

Mackintosh, a pioneer of the Art Nouveau style and an architect who is studied and admired throughout the world, designed the building which was constructed between 1897 and 1909

I was particularly disturbed to see the ashes of the library which was completely destroyed. The library had been described as "the most beautiful room in Europe" and I remember being blown away by its beauty and originality when I visited some years ago

Thankfully, as a result of excellent work by the local Fire Service, 90% of the building was saved, but most of the Mackintosh material in the library was destroyed - tables, chairs and the amazing light fittings. The good news is that reproductions can be created which will retain the spirit of the original, even if the patina caused by use for over a century will be absent. The illustration here of a light fitting is from "House for an Art Lover" in Glasgow designed by Mackintosh but construction did not begin until 1989.

Currently a team of forensic archaeologists are sifting through the room, trying to find the odd artefact that might have survived the blaze. It will be painstaking work as experts work away in unpleasant and possibly hazardous conditions.

The team will be working through the library in one square metre segments, excavating layers of ash in 25cm increments. Each layer will then be transferred to the Mackintosh museum, where items for salvage can be properly identified.

We will keep you informed on the progress of the restoration project from time to time. It has been a gem glittering away in Garnethill, just above Sauchiehall Street in the centre of Glasgow, and hopefully it will return to its former glory sooner rather than later.

Some excellent photos of the interior of the building prior to the fire can be seen at Digital Muse.

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
May 2014

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