Between1890 and 1910s, Glasgow was an innovative, ambitious and progressive city – and was the birthplace of the only Art Nouveau movement in Britain. The Glasgow Style, made famous by the enduring work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, grew out of the technical studios of the Glasgow School of Art, and the radical originality of a group of bright young things embracing the freedoms of Western Aestheticism and educational intellectualism.
This exhibition, in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Glasgow’s most famous son, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Following a chronological narrative, the exhibition spans Mackintosh’s lifetime, presenting his work in context with that of his contemporaries and influences; including Talwin Morris, James Herbert McNair, Frances Macdonald and her sister Margaret, who would become Mackintosh’s wife after they met at Glasgow School of Art. The exhibition features more than 250 objects, which highlight the diverse spectrum of media Mackintosh and his contemporaries mastered. These include stained glass, glass, ceramics, mosaic, metalwork, textiles, stencilling, embroidery, posters, books, interior and tearoom design, along with architectural drawings. Several of these works have never been on public display and the majority have not been shown in Glasgow for 30 or more years.
Key highlights include a section of lathe and plaster wall with a stencilled design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and architectural drawings of some of the most famous buildings in Glasgow, drawn early in his career. Also displayed is an early example of his internationally renowned rose motif on a lathe and plaster wall, salvaged just prior to Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms being repurposed into a hotel in 1971. Meticulously conserved, this stunning piece of architectural history will be on display for the first time since its removal from the former tearoom premises. This is shown alongside a number of other decorative elements and fittings from the interiors of the Ingram Street Tearooms, again for the first time on public display; conserved especially for this show.
The exhibition is given a deeper context by the inclusion of work never before seen on public display by some of Mackintosh’s key Glasgow Style contemporaries, including a standing clock by Peter Wylie Davidson, an illustrated score cover for Wagner’s Götterdämmerung by Dorothy Carleton Smyth, and sketchbooks owned and filled by Talwin Morris. Audiovisual displays including rarely seen footage of inside the famous House for an Art Lover and Windy Hill, the private residence in Kilmacolm, build Mackintosh in 1900.
A wonderful compilation of this important part of Glasgow’s heritage.