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Feeling heartbroken

One of the brightest highlights of all my travels over the years was visiting Glasgow three years ago as the guest of [personal profile] kis and Mr Kis. And the highlight of that highlight was the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building on Renfrew Street that houses the Glasgow School of Art.

Facade of the Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building, Renfrew Street Glasgow, UK

Kis and I walked there from a little lower down in the town. Glasgow celebrates its status as a cradle of Art Nouveau and the home of Mackintosh in all kinds of ways, but that building, which Mackintosh and his wife designed and built specifically to be an art school, and which has been an art school since it opened its doors in 1909, is the crown jewel. Climbing to it is entirely appropriate.

From basement to rooftop, the Mackintoshes designed everything in the building. Clocks, locks, beams, benches, the very room numbers on the doors...everything. The elegant curves and straight lines, the just-so ornamentation, the restrained exuberance of Art Nouveau are everywhere.

I don't know why it struck me so--maybe because it's urban, and technical, and seems to have arisen out of the industrial heart of a wonderful, harsh, challenging northern city--but it did. It grabbed me and took hold of my imagination, and I immediately started a novel set in Glasgow in the period. Its opening scene was set in the School of Art.

Today the building caught fire. The damage is described as extensive.

I feel heartbroken.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
starfishchick
May. 23rd, 2014 11:56 pm (UTC)
No no no no no!!!!! I never got to see it In person! Noooooo, what a horrible cultural loss!
emeraldsedai
May. 24th, 2014 12:40 am (UTC)
Late reports seem to be saying that the building has been largely saved, and that quite a lot of its contents have also survived the fire.

Still, I've been near tears all day. I hope, once they get things restored, that you get a chance to go there someday. Glasgow is a wonderful city.
happytune
May. 24th, 2014 05:02 am (UTC)
A friend of mine who works for the Royal School of Needlework has been working with students there. All of the work has been lost. The building is beyond treasure and I'm hoping against hope that the heart of it survives.
emeraldsedai
May. 24th, 2014 05:47 am (UTC)
I remember how much of the student work area was on the top floor, where the light was best, and from pictures, it looked like the fire originated up there. What a loss!

I certainly hope and trust that the building's high status among national treasures will insure a thorough restoration--and, of course, that the art students will have the means and the heart to begin recreating their work.

ETA: logging in as me...
helenajust
May. 24th, 2014 07:37 am (UTC)
The news this morning is that "The fire service said more than 90% of the structure was viable and they had protected up to 70% of the contents."

This is amazing given the strength of the fire, but the fire service were there within four minutes of the alarm being given and (of course) knew just how important every aspect of the building is. One would hope that they had a plan for how to deal with fire in the building. I hope that the students who were preparing for their end-of-year show haven't lost all their work.

I do understand how you feel about this. Some places are so perfect in concept and execution that they captivate you. Others become important because of association; in my case, sometimes because of books being set there, but more often historical events and people.
emeraldsedai
May. 26th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC)
Some places are so perfect in concept and execution that they captivate you. Others become important because of association

Exactly! And in this case, both are true. I was so relieved to hear that excellent fire service response averted total loss.
decemberleaf
May. 25th, 2014 10:28 am (UTC)
"I don't know why it struck me so--maybe because it's urban, and technical, and seems to have arisen out of the industrial heart of a wonderful, harsh, challenging northern city--but it did. It grabbed me and took hold of my imagination, and I immediately started a novel set in Glasgow in the period. Its opening scene was set in the School of Art."

I just reread what you wrote here. What a tribute. Loved it.
emeraldsedai
May. 26th, 2014 02:17 am (UTC)
Truly, the Art Nouveau and Craftsman sensibilities are so woven into Glasgow's self-concept as a city that it's an absolutely wonderful place to visit. I wasn't prepared for it when I went--I had almost no idea, and was just visiting friends--but I fell in love, and fell hard.
emeraldsedai
May. 26th, 2014 02:18 am (UTC)
Mind you, I was there in early September. I hear January is quite another kettle of fish!
helenajust
May. 26th, 2014 07:40 am (UTC)
Further update on fire:

"The main damage was to the west wing of the building, built between 1907-09, Professor Tom Inns, Director of the GSA said.

The 1897-99 part of the site, including the Mackintosh Museum and Mackintosh Room, has "survived intact", he added."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-27564239
emeraldsedai
May. 27th, 2014 12:32 am (UTC)
It's looking more hopeful as things settle out.

Maybe if and when I'm ever lucky enough to get back to Glasgow, I'll see it once again. I hope so.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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