2018 Marks the 150 Years Since the Birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Mackintosh’s innovation and style broke with tradition; they heralded a move towards integrated design and clean lines. Mackintosh offered a new vision for a new era, one that remains relevant today, over a century later.
The styles, architecture and art school that Glasgow is known for have all been shaped at some point by the work of Mackintosh. It is impossible to soak up the atmosphere of the city without acknowledging the contribution of Mackintosh and his contemporaries. Whether it is the spidery Willow font menus, the sweeping art nouveau ironwork, the vast modernist expanses of glass window, or the inescapable Mockintosh rose…
To commemorate this anniversary, Craft Design House has commissioned its designers and makers to create a unique 21st-century craft and design collection around Mackintosh’s legacy. The Collection is called ‘Reflecting Mackintosh’, referring both to the designers’ and makers’ reflections on Mackintosh and also to reflecting Mackintosh’s style in original ways particular to each designer or maker individually.
A Major Exhibition to Celebrate Mackintosh 150
To celebrate this anniversary, a large exhibition of Mackintosh’s work is on display in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. It features several works that have never before been on public display and many that have not been exhibited in over three decades. These include the watercolours Pinks (see above) and Grey Iris and a stencilled lath-and-plaster panel salvaged from the Ingram Street Tea Rooms in the 1970s. This, along with other furnishings and fixtures from the Tea Rooms, will be displayed for the first time since its closure.
The exhibition Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Making the Glasgow Style will run at Kelvingrove from 30 March to 14 August 2018. Mackintosh 150 will also be celebrated with events in other cultural and arts venues across Glasgow. Craft Design House has worked with designer makers to create a unique 21st-century collection of new craft and design work reflecting on the legacy of Mackintosh. The collection accompanies this exhibition and selected additional high-profile Mackintosh-related venues and events.
The True Legacy of Mackintosh
‘Reflecting Mackintosh’, showcases leading craft and design in 2018. Each of the designers and makers has been invited to celebrate their own unique interpretation of Mackintosh’s work. The works featured in the collection are the results of reflections on Mackintosh’s work and not direct distillations of it.
Mackintosh believed in Total Design, that is, designing a project in full; a house and its furniture and decorative schemes, for example. Like Mackintosh’s own work, the collection spans many different disciplines and styles. It encompasses the practical and decorative, furniture and wall art, tableware and fashion accessories…
For many of the designers and makers involved, all of whom have strong Scottish ties, their artistic training has been infused with the legacy of the designer, artist and architect.
‘Reflecting Mackintosh’ is an extraordinary opportunity to see what Mackintosh really means to the new generations of craftspeople and designers, those who are following in his footsteps, and what it is about his work that speaks to them. Every creation is highly personal and draws on a different aspect of his work.
Mackintosh in Context
It is easy to stumble into the well-trodden path of seeing great individuals in isolation, independently carving out their destiny.
However, like many others, Mackintosh’s story isn’t just his own. His success and his output are testaments not only to his own genius but to the support of the people he worked with: his wife and fellow artist Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh; of her sister Frances MacNair and her husband Herbert McNair for starters. Together they made up the famed ‘Glasgow Four’ and were instrumental in the birth of the Glasgow Style. The work of the Glasgow Four caught the attention of the continental Art Nouveau movement who recognised the vital contributions of ‘the Four’ to the Art Nouveau oeuvre.
The Four were mentored by the Glasgow School of Art and its director who nurtured their talent and vision; Miss Cranston, a Glasgow businesswoman and founder of the Willow Tea Rooms, gave Mackintosh his first substantial commission and offered him patronage while later patrons included Walter Blackie, a renowned publisher and owner of Hill House in Helensburgh, for which Mackintosh was commissioned to oversee the whole of the works.
Learn More About Mackintosh and Scottish Design
To learn more about his practice and his contemporaries, check out the Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Making the Glasgow Style at the Kelvingrove Museum. It refreshingly presents Mackintosh alongside his contemporaries, in the context of his inspirations and commissions, across multiple disciplines, offering a fully rounded presentation of his life and work. Not to mention, you’ll find our ‘Reflecting Mackintosh’ collection there before it is available anywhere else.
Throughout 2018 we will be publishing a range of articles on this period of Glasgow’s architectural and artistic history and the people who made it possible.
2018 is the year to delve into the history of Scottish design and its contemporary practitioners, and to reflect more than ever on the significance of the work and talent that we have on our doorsteps.
The works from the ‘Reflecting Mackintosh’ collective will be released gradually throughout the year and will be available exclusively through Craft Design House and our partners on this project.
‘Reflecting Mackintosh’ Collection Photos by Photographer Leesa Tulloch.
Photos from the Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Making the Glasgow Style by Craft Design House, by the kind permission of the Kelvingrove Museum.