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Making the Glasgow Style - Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.


After the devastating news last month that Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s (1868 - 1928) seminal building, the Glasgow School of Art (GSA), had been severely damaged by fire for the second time in four years, your spirits will be lifted by a visit to Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Making the Glasgow Style which runs until 14 August at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of this celebrated architect, designer and artist, the exhibition spans his lifetime, presenting Mackintosh’s work in the context of Glasgow, his key predecessors, influences and contemporaries, particularly those working in ‘The Glasgow Style’ from the 1890s to 1920, as Glasgow became the birthplace of the only Art Nouveau ‘movement’ in the UK.
Among the 250 objects on display -  stained glass, ceramics, mosaic, metalwork, furniture, textiles, architecture - are the renowned rose motif from the Miss Cranston’s Ingram Street Tearooms,  conserved and now on show for the first time since its removal from the premises in the early 1970s and the iconic high backed chair for publisher Walter Blackie’s The Hill House. But, perhaps the most intriguing objects to behold are the beautiful rare and first editions, and the arresting graphics.
In the late 19th century ideas spread mainly via the printed word.  Eye-catching decoration helped to sell books, journals employed photographic reproduction and fiction relied on the illustrator’s imagination. Book binding and book cover design was one of the first disciplines taught by innovative head teacher Francis (Fra) Newbery at the GSA, under whom Mackintosh studied.

Due prominence is given in the exhibition to the work of Jessie M King who would become the most prolific book designer and illustrator of the Glasgow Style designers.  In 1899, at just the age of 23, she was creating covers for Globus Verlag, Berlin.  Her original chapter page illuminations for ‘The High History of the Holy Graal’ 1902-1903 sit in an opulent tooled and ink vellum cover, set with mother-of-pearl.  King drew more than 30 personalised bookplates between 1905 and 1910 and some of these, and her other designs for menus, postcards and greetings cards, can be seen.

Talwin Morris was the other key figure in the application of Glasgow Style ideas to the printed word. Both Morris and King were inspired by the work of Aubrey  Beardsley. Morris became Art Director for Blackie & Son and introduced Mackintosh to publisher Walter Blackie, owner of The Hill House. Morris was responsible for establishing a clear brand identity for Blackie using new minimalist lines. He tailored designs and production to suit the market. He created luxury imprint Gresham where the exquisite grooved patterns on the titles such as Queen Victoria: Her Life & Reign and the Book of the Home were created by the process of ‘debossing’.  Morris’ other personal designs and jottings, including a sketchbook, can also been seen.

Mackintosh produced many book covers for Blackie from 1913 including The Rambler travel series and The Saucy May, the design of which deviates in part from the stepped wall structure of the Cloister Room at the Ingram Street Tearooms and the Dug-Out at the Willow Tearooms.
More information and book tickets click here