The Glasgow School of Art

I didn’t have the heart to blog about this before now, but on Friday the Glasgow School of Art caught fire, you can read about it here.

I’m never sure about how well known Charles Rennie Mackintosh is elsewhere, but in Glasgow we love him and his work. The School of Art was his masterpiece of course and I was shocked when I heard that it was on fire, I was standing in the kitchen cooking, with Radio 2 on and the traffic report woman just blithely said that there was congestion in some parts of the city because the art school was on fire!!

I ran into the living room to switch on News 24, hoping that it was the newly built part of the art school which was on fire, but no – it was the Mackintosh building, and when I saw the flames bursting out of the roof and heard that the fire had started in a basement, my heart sank.

Not only did Mackintosh design the building but he also designed all the fixtures and fittings, clocks, lights and furniture. The good news is that the fire brigade say they have managed to save 90% of the structure but the bad news is that the library is entirely destroyed. They think that about 70% of the contents of the building have been saved, but that’s still a lot lost.

Apparently the fire brigade got there within 4 minutes and they put their lives in danger by entering the building to fight it, and you can’t ask more than that. Thankfully everyone got out safely and they think that the students’ work has been saved.

I’m now so glad that I did go to see the building a while ago, you could go and gaze at it whilst the life of the school carried on around you, I also attended an auction of art noveau furniture and decorative ware which was held there a few years ago.

As well as housing one of Europe’s leading art schools, the listed building is a tourist attraction in its own right. Completed at the turn of the 20th century, it was voted the best building of the past 175 years in a poll by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba).

The damage will be repaired of course, but it won’t be the same even although it might look exactly as it did, minus the 100 years of wear and tear which was also part of its charm, it was a cherished building but it was still a work place, not preserved in aspic.

You can see what was going on on Friday here and scroll right down to read about Mackintosh and see some of the library.

12 thoughts on “The Glasgow School of Art

      • Katrina, I checked with my husband, who is both more interested in and knowledgeable about architecture than I, and he did recognize the name immediately. Just not my area. I am not that knowledgeable of architects in any country, including my own.

        • TracyK,
          Thanks, it has cheered me up that your husband has heard of him. It’s just as well that we don’t all have the same interests, that would be so boring!

  1. This is so sad! I love Makintosh. He was such an innovative and creative designer. I didn’t know that he had designed all the bits and pieces, as well as the building. I hope they can restore it.

    It’s a little strange that you write about this fire because last night Jack and I watched a documentary called Let the Fire Burn, about the actions of the Philadelphia police to remove an African American fringe group, burning down several city blocks and the homes of 250 innocent neighbors in their determination to get MOVE out. Fire is terrifying.

    • Joan,
      I’m so happy that you know about him.

      What on earth are they on in the Philly fire department, they sound absolutely nuts.

  2. Saw this on a friend’s facebook page. Tragic loss for the arts.

    Interesting the comment on no sprinkler system. What were they thinking? Of course, in a library or studio, water would probably do as much damage if not more.

    At least the people appear to have escaped harm.

    • Pearl,
      I was surprised that there was no sprinkler system, but as you say, in a place like that the water can cause more damage. Apparently they were going to put a system in over the summer holidays – typical. A lot of the final year students have lost their work which must be more than painful for them, but at least they are all still alive and unscathed physically.

  3. Losing the library is devastating. I do hope they can restore it sympathetically. I see today that students and staff applauded the firemen as they left the area, having done all they could to make the building safe.
    I regret that I never got to do a tour of the School, as they weren’t doing tours the day my sister and I went to enquire. Having seen Hill House and the house for an art lover I would have loved to have seen the Art School. Loved CRM’s work.

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