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.