Charles ilennie Mackintosh’s iiouse For An Art lover will open in Glasgow next month, the culmination of a 95- year-oid dream and seven years of on- off construction work.
Mackintosh’s original designs, entered into a competition in 1901, have been reinterpreted to provide the city with a new visitor attraction and an annex for the Glasgow School of Art, at a cost of some £3 million.
The competition asked for ‘a grand house in a thoroughly modern style’, but Mackintosh did not win, because some drawings were entered late.
lateness has became a feature of the project: a bid to build the house in 1989 ran into financial difficulties and was put on hold.
‘Funding from various sources ran out, because of national problems including the recession and the Gulf War’ says Graham lioxburgh.
A long-time Mackintosh enthusiast,
Art lover’s house is ﬁnally completed alter 95-year wait
he sank his own money into the project, which has also been funded by the old Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Development Agency and now the City of Glasgow council. The projected cost in 1989 was £1 million, but the eventual bill will be approximately three times that. Mackintosh’s drawings were incomplete, so the bulk of the effort has gone into filling in the gaps.
‘This is the most satisfying job of my life,’ iloxburgh added. He believes this will be dramatically different from other Mackintosh attractions in the city because of its location. ‘It is set in the landscape as he intended. Mackintosh House is restricted within a concrete tower block, so you don’t get the same effect.’
Some critics have suggested the new building will prove to be no more than ‘mock-intosh’. They are missing the point according to Fineila Devitt, chief
executive of House For An Art lover ltd, who are managing the commercial development of the house. ‘This is not for a minute original Mackintosh, but it is a unique piece of contemporary Mackintosh research. While as faithful as possible to the original design, it is a living, working building, not just a static museum.’
House for an Art lover: “Not just a static museum"
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The house will be open to the public from 17 October, seven days a week during the summer and at weekends in the winter, with entrance for adults costing £3.50.
Its working role will be fulfilled by a centre for excellence for students at Glasgow School Of Art and around the world. (Stephen Naysmith)
New head for Festival Theatre
The Edinburgh Festival Theatre has announced a replacement for general manager Paul lies. who left in July having become increasingly frustrated by the task.
He was known to resent what he saw as excessive interference from the old Edinburgh City Council and had found it difﬁcult to book major musicals because of competition from the city‘s Playhouse Theatre.
Stephen Barry. currently chief executive of Shefﬁeld Theatres, has been named as the new man at the helm. His experience as director of Bath‘s Theatre Royal. the Redgrave Theatre in Surrey and the National Theatre in Perth, Australia was a major factor in the Theatre’s decision. as was his experience in programming dance. However. given lles‘s discontent. an even more important influence may have been Barry‘s work in Shefﬁeld where he has been accustomed to working in theatre alongside local authorities.
Lord Younger of Prestwick. chairman of the board of directors of the Edinburgh Festival Theatre Trust admitted this aspect had caused problems for their last general manager: ‘Paul lles was philosophically determined he could run the place without public subsidy. and in the second year that wasn‘t possible. Stephen Barry has dealt with lots of situations like that.
However he was keener to accentuate the optimistic outlook under a new regime. ‘There is a lot to build on at the Festival Theatre.‘ he added. ‘Our ﬁrst year was enormously successful and while we struck a ﬁnancial crisis in year two. it was a huge success artistically as well.’ (Stephen Naysmith)
City’s homeless beneﬁt from hostel ‘cuts’
Homeless men in north Glasgow are living in vastly improved conditions after control of Britain‘s last remaining ‘spike‘ — the street name for social security hostels — was handed from the Govemment to a private charity.
The Bishopbriggs spike is the focus for a documentary in a new hard-hitting BBCZ series The System, which looks at the Government‘s attempts to cut its £90 billion benefits bill. While the programme is critical of many of Peter Lilley‘s changes as Social Security secretary. the producers admit to having been surprised by the beneﬁts of the changes at the spike.
Ex-Big Issue vendor Brian Hudson. 28. has lived there under both regimes. ‘The difference now is incredible.‘ he said. ‘ln the old spike men sometimes
lived ﬁve to a dirty cramped room. with damp curtains hung up to separate them. Now l‘ve got a good clean room with a television and tape recorder.‘
Jim Stevenson manages the hostel for the Talbot Association. which runs six other hostels in the Glasgow area. Walking around a now disused section of the ex-RAF camp. Stevenson pointed out rooms where men had lived in abject squalor, with damp carpets. bare brick walls. and the constant stench of urine.
‘When we took over in,March we immediately shut down certain sections of accommodation that were totally unacceptable for human habitation.‘ Stevenson said. While ofﬁces have been converted into bedrooms to improve conditions temporarily.
Homelessness: llotorlous hostel transfonnedﬁ
residents will eventually be moved to a new city centre hostel in January 97.
According to Stevenson. under Govemment rule the spike averaged only 25 inmates every night. but that ﬁgure is now up to an average of 58 out of the ()7 beds available. lrnproved toilet and recreational facilities. and a needle disposal system are all evidence that the hostel has improved under the charity‘s guidance.
Janet Harris, assistant producer of The Systwn. said: ‘We tried to show that the Talbot initiative is a positive move. but at the same time we point out that the Govemment is shirking responsibility for the sake of creative accounting. by passing the buck on to charitable organisations.‘
Marian Gibbs of homeless campaign group Shelter believes the spike had come to the end of its lifespan under Government control.
But Shelter have reservations. ‘Wc welcome any improvement in accommodation,‘ Gibbs said. ’But we are concerned that Talbot have no real track record in dealing with young homeless people‘s needs. and believe not enough is being done to help resettle many ofthe men who pass through the Bishopbriggs hostel.‘ (Lindsay McGarvie)
The System begins on September l9, 9.30pm on BBC2.
Glasgow gets 12 new cinema screens
Glasgow film fans will benefit from a massive 29 per cent increase in seats at the city’s cinemas when a new multiplex complex opens south of the Clyde on friday 20 September. The new Cdeon At The liuay, situated on the site of the old postal sorting office, will be the largest in Scotland with a total of 2557 seats in twelve screens. .
The cinema has full disabled access, an induction loop system and Dolby
stereo throughout, and patrons will alsobe able to revel in a new bingo
,hall and ‘llotshots’, a sports themed
bar with ten pin bowling, virtual reality sports simulators and a dance area.
‘We plan to show anything and everything at The fiuay,’ says David Elliot who is manager of the new multiplex and the Cdeon’s existing site in iienfield Street. ‘People often think multiplexes don’t cater for
minority audiences, but with two of the screens holding 90 seats, we will be able to cater for this audience.’
With one 400 seat auditorium and two with a capacity of about 300, The Quay should also be able to sidestep the problem which such blockbusters as Independence Day caused in the existing multiplex cinemas this summer when it took over up to half the available screen space. (Thom Dibdin)
4 The List 20 Sept-3 Oct 1996