Street Tea-rooms still exist. albeit in more than 400 pieces. is thanks to Glasgow Corporation. explains exhibition co-curator Daniel Robins. The council bought the premises in the early l950s. after Glasgow's tea-room boom was well and truly over. ‘In a way that was quite l'oresighted.‘ says Robins. ‘It was way before Mackintosh had anything like the reputation he has now. The problem is the deterioration of the tea-rooms can be dated to exactly that point.‘
In the early l970s. the building was sold to Stakis Hotels. So began the process of removing the interiors piece by piece and putting them into storage. The intention was to rebuild them -- one day. They had been altered under the council's ownership — during the l‘)(w()s, the gessop panels had been painted over with green emulsion. ‘lt‘s easy to think of someone‘s ignorance. but at that time therejust wasn‘t the kind of control or interest there is today.‘ says
Robins. ‘You can blame the corporation I
for the damage. but the fact is the tea- roorns still exist.‘
Glasgow Museums took responsibility for the tea-room pieces in l978. periodically moving them from store to store. Their latest resting place has seen the ﬁrst serious attempt to rebuild them. although parts of them have been
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As it was: Mackintosh's White Diing Room or Ladies’ Luncheon Room,
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MAOKINTOSH TEA ROOMS
Raw materials: these Mackintosh-style doors are two of the only tea-room pieces to be replaced.
restored. The aim is not only to recreate Mackintosh's stunning design. but explore its social context. Glasgow tea- roorns in the early l9()()s were not simply about drinking tea — Robins compares them to today's leisure centres. with the emphasis on exercising social skills.
To Mackintosh himself. the four
photographed in the early 19005.
(Copyright IIunterian Art Gallery. University of Glasgow Mackintosh collection)
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Building blocks: the White Dining lioom oi the Ingram Street Tea-rooms is being reconstructed in a converted Glasgow church.
The rest of the interiors are the originals. Glasgow tea-rooms he worked on represented much-needed work. Only three years after he completed the last lngratn Street tea-room. he quit his partnership with architects Honeyman and Keppie and left Glasgow for good. Fourteen years later. he died in relative obscurity. ‘
Mackintosh biographer and chief executive of Scottish Television, Alistair Moffat. describes the architect as sadly misunderstood during his lifetime and for decades after. ‘l-le was
‘There was no construction to it. Everything was just nailed on. The thing about Mackintosh is the way something is made is less important than how it looks.’
such a meteor and so different from anything else going on in Scotland at that time, he says, adding: ‘He was clearly a difficult man, as most geniuses are. There was a residual reaction in Glasgow certainly, which went through the 30s and 40s.
‘He knew he was good, but ended up being a watercolour painter. All this was boiling in a head bursting with ideas. He absolutely knew he was good — he had to ﬁnd an explanation as to why he wasn't working. so he could live with himself.‘
Moffat welcomes the prospect of a major Mackintosh exhibition, with the tea-room at its heart. Against the background of the burgeoning ‘Mockintosh‘ industry that has popularised the man‘s work. it is sure to attract the attention Mackintosh failed to attract during his career. ‘If Mackintosh had got a tiny percentage ofthe money that’s been spent on him in the last twenty years. he would have been a happy man.’ says Moffat. Mackintosh would almost certainly have raised a teacup to that.
C harles Rennie Mackintosh: Architect. Designer: Artist. featuring the recmrstructed White Dining Room. is to show at Glasgow is McLellan Galleries. 25 May—30 September 1996. Remembering Charles Rennie Mackintosh. by Alistair Moffat (Colin Baxter Photography £1 7. 95).
CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH
_,I .y‘, I 1868 Born in Glasgow to the city’s Police Superintendent William Mackintosh and Ayr~born Margaret Rennie. Attended Reid's Public School, then Alan Glen’s High School. I 1884 Apprenticed as an architect and enrolled Ior evening classes at Glasgow School of Art, before joining architects Honeyman and Keppie in 1889. I 1890—1895 Designed ‘Redcyiie‘ in Glasgow’s Springburn, the tower tor the Glasgow Iierald Building and the city’s Queen Margaret Medical Coﬂege. I 1896-1899 Began work on Glasgow School of Art and designed mural decorations for the Buchanan Street Tea-rooms. Designed Queen’s Cross Church, Glasgow and William Davidson’s ‘Windyhill’ house in Kilmacolm. I 1900-1901 Married Margaret Macdonald and moved to 120 Mains Street, Glasgow. Began work on the Ingram Street Tea-rooms interiors. Designed the Daily Record oliice, Glasgow. I 1902-1904 Designed Hill House, Ilelensburgh tor Walter Blackie, and Scotland Street School, Glasgow. Became a partner in Honeyman and Keppie. I 1906 Moved to 6 Florentine Terrace, later renamed 78 South Park Avenue. Began the second phase at Glasgow School of Art. Designed the Dutch Kitchen for the Argyle Street Tea- rooms and the Oak Room for the Ingram Street Tea-rooms. I 1909—1 910 Betreated to Kent and became absorbed in flower studies. I 1911 Created the Cloister Room and the Chinese Room for the Ingram Street Tea-rooms. I 1913—1 915 After resigning irom Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh, he moved to Suiiolk, later settling in Chelsea. I 1916-1922 Designed decorative schemes, Iurniture and fabrics. Onexecuted designs tor studios and 3 Chelsea theatre. I 1923 Moved to France and turned to watercolour painting. I 1928 Died In London in relative obscurity.
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