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MacIntosh Treasure Aflame

Updated on March 9, 2020
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Massive Fire Blaze Devastates Scotland's Glasgow School Of Art

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Horrific Events

For Glasgow, Scotland it was a sad day on May 23, 2014, when a beloved school and treasured icon was engulfed in a blazing fire; destroying many students’ works as they rushed to meet their end of term deadlines and endangering more than 175 years of history of Scottish culture. Firefighters worked around the clock to bring the monstrous nightmare of flames under control so as to save one of Scotland’s most famous structures. This horrific event at Glasgow School of Arts' historic Charles Rennie Mackintosh building is believed to have been ignited when a projector exploded in the basement on the afternoon of May 23rd and has been described as “a very black day” for the institution.

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After reading a Facebook comment; it got me curious, so I researched the school itself. I started asking myself what did this school have that made it so effective on the people of Glasgow? Why is it so important? What I found out was that it was not just some “dumb old building” but something that was enriched with history.

Fire-Damaged Glasgow School Of Art Mackintosh

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Curiosity Killed The Cat

Let us start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. The Glasgow School of Art is Scotland's only public self-governing art school offering university-level programs and research in architecture, fine art, and design. When reading about it on Wikipedia I found that the school was founded in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design and later changed to The Glasgow School of Art. The building that caught on fire was built in 1897, in two parts, and designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The first half of the building was finished in 1899 and the second was finished in 1909.

In seeing photographs and videos of this breathtakingly beautiful structure you would expect to see Harry Potter or Dumbledore walking through its illustrious corridors or Hermine Granger studying in the library. It is one of those schools that you read about in fairytales and can imagine it fully in your head, but when you get a chance to see it, in reality, it is like you have, as the song says, come out of your dreams and into your heart. While digging further into its history I found on a website, GSofA, which this glorious school does have a reputation of being the third-highest in National Awards in the number of medals and prizes in 1869-1885. During this time the school was being moved in buildings on Sauchiehall Street, in a corner of the McLellan Galleries and a report from the examiner of the Science and Art Department stated, “the rooms were ill-adapted for the purposes of a school of art.....with the aggravation of the grey dull atmosphere prevailing here for half the year the students labor under positive disadvantage". By proving that there was more than meets the eye for this school, in my opinion, is what made the school’s newly appointed director, Francis H. Newbery, deiced to bring in designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh to help build a bigger, better and more spacious foundation for Glasgow School of Art in 1885. Since then the school’s future has been so bright you have to wear shades.

Architect And Designer Of Mackintosh School Of Architecture

Since Charles Rennie Mackintosh was the architect and designer the history of the school, from this point, was irrevocably linked and the building that Mackintosh created was, is and forevermore known as Mackintosh School of Architecture.

The Glasgow School Of Art

European-Style Architecture In The 20th Century

The design that Mackintosh used was something out of a sci-fi story and architects, designers, artists, and alumni marveled at the birth of the new design. Mackintosh gave birth to new European-style architecture in the 20th century that meshed with Glasgow School of Art in perfect harmony. In Glasgow, this school has become one of the oldest art and design intuitions in the United Kingdom and it is “unique in its ability to illustrate the nature and history of art education itself; document trends, styles, and fashions both in the practice and in the education of artists, designers, and architects.” For being over 175 years old, Glasgow School of Art has aged like a fine wine not showing her age in the slightest. The Mackintosh building has gone through regeneration progress but will continue to be the centerpiece of the Glasgow School of Art.

Inside Glasgow: The Glasgow School Of Art

Arts And Humanities In The City Of Glasgow

Fire Guts Glasgow School Of Art

The Glasgow School Of Art Fire

Heart And Soul

However when push comes to shove the heart and soul of Glasgow School of Art is Mackintosh School of Architecture. The building was home to the Fine Arts Painting department for first-year students and administrative staff and is also known as the Mackintosh Gallery or Mackintosh Museum which is the only part open to the general public; all the other areas of the school are only viewable by guided tour.

Demolition Of Glasgow School Of Art

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That is…Up Until May 23, 2014

The original Mackintosh building was critically damaged while students were preparing the annual Degree Show. In reading about this on Wikipedia “The Mackintosh Gallery has a curated programs that work with contemporary artists, designers and architects; Glasgow School of Art staff and students; and makes connections to the rich heritage and architecture of the Glasgow School of Art and its collections.” However damaging the fire was, however intense the smoke was and however sever a situation maybe there is always a bluebird sky above the murkiest clouds. I am happy to say that once the fire was extinguished the brave souls of the firefighters estimated that 90% of the building and 70% of its contents have been saved and as of May 26, 2014, the staff of Glasgow School of Art is starting to remove artwork and other items from the fire-damaged building. In bringing this story to a close I like to leave you with this hopeful thought from an article from bbc.com, “We have been overwhelmed by the number of messages of support from the local community in Glasgow and friends across the world, and the generosity of individuals and organizations in offering expert assistance to help us in these difficult times.”

© 2020 Cheeky Chav

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