Mark Baines on Charles Rennie MacKintosh – 16 July 2019

Last year, Mark Baines, himself a qualified architect with a passion for the work of the early Glasgow architects, delivered a well-received talk to members on Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. Mark returned last week with an equally interesting talk on another notable contributor to the architecture of Glasgow – Charles Rennie MacKintosh.

Most members will already have been fairly familiar with the MacKintosh story but Mark provided us with a detailed view through an architect’s professional eye of the immense body of work which is Mackintosh’s legacy. He clearly held CRM in high regard and conveyed his admiration throughout his talk for the artistic beauty of both the buildings and interiors which Mackintosh created.

Mackintosh was the arch-exponent of the employment of space and light to great effect. Although, according to Mark, his work was often complex and contradictory he exhibited a freedom of expression rather than being constrained by convention. Much of his skill was derived from Japanese art which was his great inspiration but also from the Scottish baronial style. Mark also compared CRM’s liking for a grid basis for much of his architecture and art with that of Glasgow’s street system. He illustrated his talk with an extensive range of slides showing off the best of Mackintosh’s work through some of Mark’s own excellent photographic images. He took us on a delightful, virtual tour of many of Mackintosh’s best known locations including Scotland Street school, Hillhouse, the Lighthouse, Daily Record building and Miss Cranston’s tearooms, before finishing with the tragic Glasgow School of Art building.

Mark explains the basics to Ron Ireland

In his conclusion, Mark quoted Mackinrtosh’s favoured aphorism: “There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfection of the mere stylist”. In turn, John Dunlop, in his vote of thanks, took a line from a song by Joni Mitchell: You don’t know what you got till it’s gone, and lamented the loss and potential loss of significant buildings in Ayr.