Glasgow Style - Highlights on the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Trail

  • Where to See the Work of Glasgow's Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh

    Birds on Glasgow School of Art
    Only one bird in this picture is live - the one flying in to explore Charles Rennie Mackintosh's bit of whimsy on the Glasgow School of Art. © Ferne Arfin

    Google "Glasgow's Architect" and the name Charles Rennie Mackintosh will probably appear.

    Mackintosh, an architect and designer who worked in the late late 19th and early 20th century, is to Glasgow what Antonin Gaudi is to Barcelona.

    Before I came to Britain, I'd never even heard of him. I soon discovered that signs of his influence are everywhere. And no one else has put a stamp on Glasgow in quite the same way.

    His distinctive approach to Art Nouveau features stained glass, wrought iron, Medieval motifs, Japanese influences, and whimsical decoration. Together with his art school colleague Herbert MacNair and the Macdonald sisters, Margaret (later his wife) and Frances, he designed furniture, objects and buildings in what came to be known as The Glasgow Style.

    If you are interested in architecture and design, Glasgow and the Mackintosh trail should be on your travel wish list. Here's where you can see it:

    Fire in the early hours of June 16, 2018, gutted the Glasgow...MORE School of Art, described below, for the second time in four years. This time, it appears to have destroyed the building completely. If any attempt is made to reconstruct it, we'll let you know.

    • The Glasgow School of Art - The Mackintosh Building of the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is considered the pinnacle of the architect's work. The library, where the shelves and levels are suspended rather than supported from the floor, is a Mackintosh masterpiece.

      Sadly, in 2014, a fire in the west wing of the art school destroyed the library. But, since its value lay in the fabric of the library itself rather than the books and contents, it is being rebuilt and the art school is being restored. By 2017, you should be able to visit the original building and see Mackintosh's design once more.

      Meanwhile, you can join one of the GSA student tour guides for an hour-long  Mackintosh at the GSA Tour. They start in the school's modern Reid Building and include an opportunity to learn about the exterior details of the Mackintosh Building and to visit the GSA's Mackintosh furniture gallery. Public access to these pieces is exclusive to those on the tour. For me, one of the highlights is the scale model of the famous art school library.

      Tours leave from the shop in the Reid Building, 164 Renfrew Street, at 11am, 2pm and 3:15pm, and cost £9.75 for an adult ticket (in 2015). Extra tours are offered during the summer and a range of other, art student-led tours are available from the website.
    • The Hunterian  and The Mackintosh House - The Hunterian Art Gallery, part of Glasgow University, has the largest collection Mackintosh works in the world. But the real highlight of a visit there is the opportunity to tour the Mackintosh House. This reconstruction of the house he and his wife lived in from 1906 to 1914 is filled with the original fixtures, fittings and furniture. That includes Mackintosh windows, doors, fireplaces, lighting fixtures and staircases.

      Admission is by 30-minute guided tours, offered free, Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 5pm, and Sunday from 11am to 4pm. Last tours are an hour before closing.
    • The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum  has an excellent permanent display, the Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style Gallery. In addition to works by Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald, it includes most of the key artists and artisans of the Glasgow Style.
    • The Scotland Street School Museum was Mackintosh's last major commission in Glasgow. It is a remarkable building, full of light and characteristic Glasgow Style details. Inside, it tells the story of Scottish education but the building itself is the real draw. It's open Tuesday - Thursday and Saturday 10am to 5pm, Friday and Sunday 11a. to 5pm. Admission is free.
    • The Willow Tearooms - Mackintosh's working relationship with Kate Cranston, owner of a series of tearooms around the city, produced some of his most interesting small scale work. He had complete design control of her businesses, creating everything from the interior decoration and art work to the cutlery. In the tearoom at 217 Sauchiehall Street you can have a meal or a snack in a setting created by the man himself. Pictures of The Willow Tearooms

    Find more landmarks on the Charles Rennie Mackintosh trail.

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