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> All great and living architecture has been the direct expression of the needs and beliefs of man at the time of its creation. - Charles Rennie Mackintosh Arguably the most original and accomplished architect and designer to emerge around the turn of the nineteenth century, Charles Rennie Mackintosh travelled widely and enjoyed an international reputation from Vienna to New York. Yet his first love and the place where he always wanted to work was Glasgow, the city where he was born and lived the majority of his life. The Mackintosh style is immediately distinctive: a personal synthesis of styles and motifs, assembled partly by instinct and partly through a careful consideration of the practical requirements of each particular commission. And although in his lifetime he often had to battle against suspicion and disapproval, time has rewarded his refusal to compromise: today Glasgow Style is Mackintosh Style. His name is synonymous with the place, and his buildings, public and private, are counted among the city’s finest - loved and admired, featuring on posters and postage stamps - while their creator is celebrated with everything from museums to murals, teashops to statues. We shall also have a chance to enjoy some of the outstanding works of Margaret Macdonald, his fellow artist, partner and wife, whose intuitive flair for interior design led Mackintosh to declare that “*Margaret has genius, I have merely talent*.”
Independent arrival at the Grand Central Hotel, built during Mackintosh’s lifetime in the grand and picturesque Queen Anne style and playing host in its day to John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Laurel and Hardy, Mae West, and the Rolling Stones among many others. After an introductory talk in the lobby, we will take the short walk to see Mackintosh’s idiosyncratic Daily Record Building with its superb ceramic and sculpted sandstone façade. We will then travel to the People’s Palace, in historic Glasgow Green, opened in 1898 as a cultural centre for some of the poorest of Glasgow’s citizens and now a museum of the city’s social history. There will also be time to explore some of the other outstanding features of Glasgow’s oldest open space, including the McLennan Arch designed by James and Robert Adam, the exotic Templeton Carpets factory building and the impressive Doulton Fountain, the largest ceramic fountain ever constructed. The evening ends with a group dinner at a local Scottish restaurant.
We begin today with The Lighthouse, Mackintosh’s first building and former headquarters of the Glasgow Herald. Moving on to the opulent Beaux Arts style of the City Chambers, a private tour will allow us to enjoy the grand interiors celebrating Glasgow’s prosperity as the “second city of empire”. We continue our walking tour of Glasgow’s contrasting architectural heritage, including Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s austere St Vincent Street Church, the soaring Gothic Revival of nearby St Columba Gaelic Church, and In the afternoon a visit to Mackintosh’s only church, Queen’s Cross (now the headquarters of the Mackintosh Society) will be followed by the luxury of tea at the recently restored Mackintosh at the Willow, formerly Miss Cranston’s Willow Street Tea Rooms, and one of Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald’s finest collaborations. The day ends with an optional opportunity to view from the exterior the progress of the renovations of the Glasgow School of Art.
We will spend the morning at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, discovering the Mackintoshes’ own home in Southpark Avenue, ingeniously reconstructed with original furniture and fittings only a short distance from the now demolished original. The museum also contains other Mackintosh works, including his less well-known drawings and watercolours, and outstanding collections of work by James McNeill Whistler and Mackintosh’s contemporaries, the painters known as the Glasgow Boys. We will then proceed to Hill House, Helensburgh. Hill House, built for publisher Walter Blackie in a very personal mixture of Arts and Crafts, Scottish Baronial, Art Nouveau and Japonisme, remains Mackintosh’s most authoritative and at the same time charming piece of domestic design. Inside Margaret’s flair for interior design adds to the striking assemblage of rooms and handling of space and light at which her husband excelled. The National Trust for Scotland is currently engaged here in its most ambitious restoration project ever, and the enclosure of Hill House in a protective box allows unparalleled access to views unseen since the original scaffolding came down in 1904.
We begin today with a visit to the faithfully restored Tenement House, which gives a glimpse of working-class conditions around the turn of the 20th century, and into Mackintosh’s early childhood. We move on to Glasgow’s beautiful Botanic Gardens on the banks of the River Kelvin. With an extensive collection of native and tropical species, a notable herb garden stocked with medicinal species and the impressive Kibble Palace glasshouse erected in 1873, it makes a delightful contrast to the city so close by. Mackintosh, a passionate botanist who all his life loved sketching and painting flowers, may well have found the inspiration for some of his famous motifs on visits here. After lunch we will visit the nearby Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow’s favourite museum with something for everybody, from Egyptian mummies to a WW2 Spitfire, and an art collection which includes works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Salvador Dalí. Our particular focus will be on the works of Margaret Macdonald and her sister Frances, well represented here, but there will also be time to explore this intriguing collection more widely. The day ends with a visit to Andy Scott’s sculpture of Mackintosh on Argyle Street. Our final group dinner will be at Òran Mór: formerly Kelvinside Parish Church, it is now a thriving arts and entertainment venue in the heart of Glasgow’s West End.
The tour ends in grand style with a morning spent at the spectacular House for an Art Lover, designed by Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald for an architectural competition run by a German design magazine in 1901, but not built until 1989-96, in Bellahouston Park on the South Side of Glasgow. The original designs were closely followed by a dedicated team of architects backed the City Council and Glasgow School of Art, and the result is a tribute to the scope and modernity of Mackintosh’s vision, despite some controversy over whether the designs as used can ever reflect the changes he was notorious for making during the building process. We shall have ample time to consider the merits of both cases, followed by independent lunch at the award-winning Art Lover’s Café, before returning to the Grand Central where the tour concludes.