Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S32

Back in the news, at Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament’s culture committee has been taking evidence on the circumstances surrounding the second blaze at the Mackintosh Building.

On Thursday it heard from independent fire, security and resilience adviser Stephen Mackenzie.

Speaking about the equipment, which relies on cooling mist to extinguish flames, committee member Tavish Scott asked Mr Mackenzie: “The committee wasn’t told it was removed after the first fire and we are all puzzled as to why it would have been removed. Why would it have been removed?”

Mr Mackenzie said: “I’m also puzzled as an expert.”

The MSP asked whether the system should have been retained until a replacement was developed.

Mr Mackenzie replied: “Categorically I’ve stated there should have been a temporary or phased installation and that could’ve been part of that basis.

“I’m incredibly puzzled to now hear that this has occurred.”

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

The committee also heard ventilation ducts which allowed the fire to take hold in 2014 were still in place at the time of last year’s blaze as they had been due to be rectified at the end of the restoration project.

Contributions continued with further comment from another expert.

Dawson Stelfox, a conservation architect at Consarc Design Group, gave an insight into fire safety assessments during the construction period and suggested the system should be reformed.

He explained: “At the moment the statutory position on that is that a fire risk assessment has to be done, but the focus of that is on life safety, is on getting people out of the building in time, and it’s not on asset safety, it’s not on protecting the building.

“I would suggest to you that it is worth the committee looking at changes to requirements and fire safety assessments during the construction period to also take into account fire asset safety and fire spread.

“Fire-stopping during construction is not an easy thing because it might continually be disruptive and have to be put back into place, but I would suggest to you that there hasn’t been enough focus on achieving compartmentation fire-stopping during the construction process.”

The Glasgow School of Art added information about advice it was given.

Referring to the mist suppression system, a Glasgow School of Art spokesman said: “As a result of the 2014 fire, considerable elements of the system were destroyed or damaged. The GSA sought expert advice which indicated that this system was unusable.

“As you would expect, the GSA wanted to take advantage of improvements in the technology and install the best system for the building.

“The installation time for the replacement system in the post-2014 restoration would have been broadly similar irrespective of the type of system commissioned.”

Fire expert ‘puzzled’ over art school mist system

Interesting to note that STV’s headline stated…

A prevention system that survived the first fire was ripped out before the second blaze.

While the text of its article went on to state…

The art school said it was advised the system was unusable following the blaze.

Frankly, this smells of a common trend I’ve highlighted in media coverage recently, with a ‘clickbait’ headline claim which is NOT backed up by detail in the article.

Expert ‘puzzled’ by Glasgow art school fire system removal

Odd that the media has apparently ignored earlier sessions of the committee’s hearings.

Nothing they could use in those to get a ‘clickbait’ headline, or whip up some ‘Trial by Media’ goodness?

MSPs today heard the final session of evidence in their investigation into the fire which gutted Glasgow School of Art last year.

The Parliament’s Culture, Tourism Europe and External Affairs Committee heard from Historic Environment Scotland and fire safety experts at 9am this morning in its last hearing.

The Committee will now deliberate upon the evidence it has heard and consider the future of the Art School.

MSPs deliberate over Glasgow School of Art’s future after hearing final evidence


No significant changes seen when I’ve been past the building remains recently.

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street


Jan 20, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memory fail at The Lighthouse

I was passing The Lighthouse when I remembered I was supposed to go there for a pic.

That much was OK.

Unfortunately, when I got there, my memory was working perfectly, the way it always does, and I had NO IDEA WHY I was supposed to go there for a pic.

To be fair, I did remember that the subject was the metal security gates which close over the entrance when The Lighthouse is closed, and I did indeed get that pic, as you will see below.

Click for bigger.

The Lighthouse Security Gates

The Lighthouse Security Gates

So, if I got the pic – what did I forget?

Just one small detail…

I was supposed to take the pic when the place was OPEN, and the gates are slid to one side, and stacked on top of one another.

This reveals a secret – which will now have to be the subject of another post.

Dec 27, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S31

Was the Mackintosh Building fire a cunning marketing ploy?

Most of the media came up with the same ‘feature headline’ this week, namely the record number of visitors at Mackintosh related venues in this 150th anniversary of his birth.

The BBC…

A record 1.1 million people have visited Charles Rennie Mackintosh venues across Glasgow this year.

A series of events to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the acclaimed architect boosted visitor numbers.

Visitor numbers were also helped by the reopening of Mackintosh’s Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street.

In June a fire ripped through the Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art.

150th anniversary boosts visitor numbers to Mackintosh venues


The 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth has helped venues connected to the artist record their best ever year for visitor numbers.

More than 1.1 million people have visited Mackintosh venues in and around Glasgow this year, including Scotland Street School Museum, House for an Art Lover and Mackintosh House at The Hunterian, officials have revealed.

It marks an 8% increase on the levels in 2017 and is up 30% compared to 2016, culture body Glasgow Life said.

The figures were revealed in a year which saw the completion of a four-year, £10m restoration of Mackintosh’s only surviving Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street, and a Mackintosh interior forming the centrepiece of the Scottish design galleries at the new V&A Dundee.

Several venues, mostly in the west of the country, were involved in Mackintosh 150, a year-long programme of events and exhibitions celebrating the birth and legacy of the artist, architect and designer.

However the past 12 months also saw a massive blaze rip through the famous Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) for the second time in four years in June, devastating the building and forcing the school to close its visitor centre and Mackintosh walking tours programme.

Mackintosh venues celebrating record visitor numbers


As the 150th anniversary celebrations of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s life draw to a close, venues and attractions in Glasgow have recorded more visitors in 2018 than ever before.

Between January and November, more than 1.1 million people visited Glasgow Mackintosh venues, including The Lighthouse, Scotland Street School Museum, Mackintosh Queen’s Cross, House for an Art Lover and Mackintosh House at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian museum.

This is an 8% increase in footfall compared with the same period in 2017 and a 30% increase on 2016.

Born in Glasgow on June 7 1868, Mackintosh is globally considered one of the most creative figures of the 20th century.

Figures have been welcomed as a strong indicator of the success of Mackintosh 150 and the continuing appeal of Mackintosh in Glasgow, especially in the wake of the second devastating fire in the Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art in four years.

Glasgow Mackintosh venues have record year following 150th anniversary celebrations

The Scotsman…

Events marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh have helped venues connected to the artist record their best ever year for visitor numbers.

More than 1.1 million people visited Mackintosh venues in and around Glasgow – including Scotland Street School Museum, House for an Art Lover and Mackintosh House at The Hunterian – in 2018, officials have revealed.

It marks an 8% increase on the levels in 2017 and is up 30% compared to 2016, culture body Glasgow Life said.

The figures were revealed in a year which saw the completion of a four-year, £10 million restoration of Mackintosh’s only surviving Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street, and a Mackintosh interior forming the centrepiece of the Scottish design galleries at the new V&A Dundee.

Several venues, mostly in the west of the country, were involved in Mackintosh 150, a year-long programme of events and exhibitions celebrating the birth and legacy of the artist, architect and designer.

But 2018 also saw a massive blaze rip through the famous Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) for a second time in four years in June, devastating the building and forcing the school to close its visitor centre and Mackintosh walking tours programme.

The record-breaking visitor figure, which includes GSA numbers up to June, reflects the success of the other venues in attracting people through their doors, officials believe.

Venues connected to Charles Rennie Mackintosh record visitor numbers

No Conspiracy Theory stories?

I left ‘The Scotsman’ article to last, since its (surely world-famous by now) Moron Comment section was, I thought, the ideal place to find the Conspiracy Theorists flocking together, and discussing various plans that could have been enacted to boost visitor numbers in the 150th anniversary year.

But, no.

Not a single one,  not even a derogatory comment from any of the trendy/fashionable Mackintosh haters, who could have dug their knives in there.

Still, looking at other stories from around world, which tell of some pretty ruthless people, and of others who just seem to have no clue about the serious implications of what they are prepared to do to achieve their goals, I just can get the image of some little creep sitting in an office, in a marketing and promotions company, coming up with hidden/secret ‘Cunning Plans’ to further their own ends.

Think I’m being silly, or that you’re safe? Husband cut wife’s parachute after she asked him ‘Are you trying to kill me?’ court hears

Christmas Mackintosh

Christmas Mackintosh

Dec 23, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Mackintosh statue receives Glasgow’s highest honour

While I have to be honest and say it’s not a tradition I endorse (it’s only a matter of time until someone is injured or killed, as we have just seen: Man dies after falling from Christmas tree in Kirkcaldy which was from a tree only 12 feet tall), Glasgow has christened the new Mackintosh statue with… a traffic cone.

While I couldn’t be there at the right time (and hope it is not something seen often), by the magic of a quick photo edit, I can at least give an impression of the sight.

Christmas Mackintosh

Christmas Mackintosh

For a look at the actual event, see here…

New Mackintosh statue given ‘Glasgow’s highest honour’ as cone is placed on top

Dec 21, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S30

Possibly a little late, STV brought three varied stories from the edge of the fire.

A quote from one’s not enough, and I can’t lift the whole article which is relatively long, so this is just the link.

Probably the sad thing I see in this is the ‘Then and Us’ emotion, rather than some understanding.

There’s been a lot of devastation, it’s a shame there seems to be a continuing rift between some of those involved.

Lives turned upside down by Glasgow Art School blaze

Business are to receive assistance.

Almost £2 million is being used to give business rate relief for companies affected by the fires at the Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh building and Victoria’s Nightclub.

The Scottish Government has announced approximately £1.85 million of its Fire Recovery Fund will be used by Glasgow City Council to provide business rates relief and support recovery efforts following the fire in June.

No business in the immediate fire cordon area, or eligible companies in Sauchiehall Street, will have to pay business rates for the period of January to March.

Some 200 businesses in the eligible area have already received more than £3 million from the £5 million fund, which was announced by Economy Secretary Derek Mackay in July.

The recently renovated Mackintosh library had been due to reopen next year.

In addition, a £150,000 grant will be given to the Centre for Contemporary Arts to assist with its recovery plan.

The Scottish Government has already offered £20,000 of financial support to businesses directly affected by the fires and £10,000 to others in the area impacted by a reduction in shoppers.

It has also expanded its contribution to hardship rates relief and in partnership with the council has created an emergency fund to support displaced households.

Mr Mackay said: “Having already provided a great deal of assistance so far, the Scottish Government is now making the remaining balance of its Fire Recovery Fund – some £1.85 million – available to Glasgow City for further business rates relief.

Businesses affected by Sauchiehall Street fires get £2m relief fund

Mackay said: “This relief will provide much-needed breathing space while businesses resume trade and allow them to focus on the commercial opportunities of the festive period in the knowledge that they will not face any additional business rates liabilities related to the period between January to March.

“The devastating fires at the Glasgow School of Art and near Victoria’s Nightclub have had a significant and lasting impact on businesses, residents and the Sauchiehall Street economy alike.

Government to give £2million to businesses affected by Art School fire

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said: “The Sauchiehall Street fires had a huge impact on the city, most especially on those who live and work in the vicinity.

“In response to these tragic and traumatising events, and in partnership with the Scottish Government, we ensured local businesses received the support needed at a crucial time.

“Businesses are the lifeblood of Sauchiehall Street and stability continues to be their overriding priority.

“There has been a real acceleration in the physical improvements in the area and this announcement will complement and make a significant contribution to our aims and ambitions for a 21st century Sauchiehall Street.”

Businesses hit by Sauchiehall Street fires get £2m boost

Sauchiehall Street Fire

Sauchiehall Street Fire

Dec 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well THAT was surprise – a Mackintosh statue just appeared!

I’m not the sort of person who has ‘heroes’, but if I did, Mackintosh would be one of them.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue And Plinth

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue And Plinth

It may be my less than helpful memory, but when I saw these stories last night, about a statue to Charles Rennie Mackintosh being unveiled yesterday… I was taken completely unawares.

I had no idea, and have been near the spot fairly often, but the site is not in clear view from where I’ve been.

It was too late to do anything, so I had to wait, and hope the decent weather lasted.

Mackintosh statue unveiled on 90th anniversary of death

Charles Rennie Mackintosh statue unveiled in Glasgow today – here’s where to find it

‘Ensuring Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s memory lives on’ – take a look at Glasgow’s new statue

Mackintosh statue unveiled on anniversary of his death

The only sour note of the day came from the usual source – the ‘Moron area’ after The Scotsman’s poor article.

The article failed as it tried to make some daft references to the fire in the Mackintosh Building, and the morons did their usual party piece, using it as an excuse to twist the unveiling to insult others, and make their now standard political points (which nobody but them is interested in).

Statue of Charles Rennie Mackintosh can help Glasgow ‘move on’ from art school fire

The completed statue weighs three tons, is 2.8 m (9 ft) tall and sits on a 2.2 m (6.5 ft) plinth.

It features Mackintosh sitting on one of the famous high-backed seats he designed for Glasgow’s Argyle Street Tea Rooms.

The monument’s creator, Andy Scott, said: “Most of my memories as a Glasgow School of Art student have Mr Mackintosh’s beautiful building as a backdrop. His distinctive architectural styling and the sculpted detailing of that building undoubtedly influenced my career path.

“I am immensely proud to have created this distinctive bronze statue of him, especially here in his home city. There can’t be many Scots who deserve recognition more than Charles Rennie Mackintosh.”

The sculpture was originally intended to be the ‘icing on the cake’ of a year of events planned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the architect, who was a pioneering influence in Europe’s art nouveau movement.

The unveiling took place on the 90th anniversary of his death.

Mr Scott, whose other public works include The Kelpies, was commissioned to create the statue more than three years ago, and it is believed to be first ever public sculpture of Mackintosh.

It can be found at the junction of St Vincent Street, Elliot Street, and Argyle Street.

I’m more used to seeing St Vincent Street and Argyle Street as they appear in the city centre, and it’s very odd to stand in them in the form they now have in Anderston.

I don’t care what anyone else refers to this as, but since Mackintosh is sitting squarely in the middle of present day Argyle Street, even if it is now a pedestrian avenue, for me, this is now the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue.

Click for bigger.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue

It’s a seriously good piece of sculpture, full of rich detail (often missing from stone, but captured in bronze).

I already have a favourite part – his boots!

The lacing detail is gorgeous.

It really is high, and he has a commanding view of the area.

Click for bigger.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plinth Rear

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plinth Rear

What the unveiling stories from the media failed to report was – the small fact that the plinth’s cladding was incomplete.

When I arrived, it was lunchtime, so the team was packed into their van, and I could take almost clear pics.

You can see the top layer of cladding is only present at the front of the plinth.

It seems ReGlasgow’s photographer was there after me, and took pics AFTER the top cladding was completed.

The pics are a bit odd though, with weird colouring on the statue – I suspect there may be up-lighting built into the plinth, not visible when I was there earlier in the day. Guess I” have to go back later in the day for another look.

IN Pictures — Glasgow’s New Charles Rennie Mackintosh Statue

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plinth Left

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plinth Left

Oh, one small detail from the right edge of the above pic, just in case anyone didn’t believe me about this being Argyle Street.

Argyle Street Sign

Argyle Street Sign

From the other side.

Click for bigger.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plinth Right

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plinth Right

You noticed the plaque, and wonder what’s inscribed.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plaque

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Plaque

Then, lunch was over, and it was ‘Back to Work’.

The workman gives an idea of the scale of this sculpture – it is ‘larger than life’.

Click for bigger.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Works

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Works

While there were no crowds, there was a steady stream of people arriving to take pics. As one left, another would arrive.

Note the tripod on the right, attached to a video camera. You saw it in the second pic above, along with an interviewer.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Visitors

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Argyle Street Statue Visitors

I missed my chance for fame!

I could have been the first person interviewed for a programme about the statue on “That’s TV”, which took over Freeview channel 8 after the ultimate disaster of the local television channels that appeared there a while ago, did some sort of deal supposedly to make their service ‘better’, and promptly collapsed. I can’t even remember their name since I stopped watching the useless ‘improved’ version.

Ten years ago I might have, but I’m just not that social now, or even looking for somewhere to push this web site.

But, as you can see, she did eventually manage to interest some of the folk who were turning up.

I began to wish I’d stayed closer, as some of the conversations became quite animated, with the interviewees pointing at lots of places, and doing lots of talking.

I thought I’d return the favour, and hit the video button on my camera but, as the joke goes “I have no idea what I’m doing” as I never use it.

Dec 11, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S29

I was going to suggest that a new director had been found for the Glasgow School of Art (after, in my opinion, the previous director was ‘persuaded’ to fall on his own sword as a sacrificial offering to the baying hounds demanding a head) surprisingly quickly, such appointments often seem to take a ridiculous amount if time. I’ve never really understood this process – my gut tells me such positions should be filled by someone with intimate knowledge of the job, promoted from within, and selected on the basis of the experience in lower positions in the chain of command.

But I’m generally wrong in that thought, as will be seen if the occupants of such posts are looked at in the case of large companies.

Cynics might suggest in such cases that this is an élite, closed club, where such directors take up such posts for only a few years, as part of a cunning plan. Once they’ve held the post long enough to satisfy their contractual terms, the get a massive ‘Golden Handshake’, and move on to the next one, and so on, until they retire.

However, for the next year at least, it looks as if my preference for someone internal to be promoted to this post is generally satisfied.

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) board has appointed Prof Irene McAra-McWilliam as the school’s new director.

The professor will fill the role for one year before the GSA undertakes a full candidate search.

Along with Prof Ken Neil she has been acting as joint interim director since 16 October.

Prof McAra-McWilliam joined the School of Art as head of School of Design in 2005.

In 2016 she was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list which recognised her work in higher education, innovation and design.

That same year she was appointed deputy director (innovation).

The professor also established the schools Highland Campus at Altyre and created The Innovation School as the GSA’s fifth academic school.

However, the key phrase in that report suggests she could be out after a year, as some ‘high-flyer’ is found, and parachuted into the role of director.

On the other hand, maybe she’ll do such an outstanding job in that year, and her position will be made permanent.

We’ll have to wait and see.

New director for Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art has appointed a temporary leader following the sudden departure of director Tom Inns in the wake of a storm of controversy over its stewardship of its iconic Mackintosh Building after it was devastated by two major fires in the space of four years.

Former head of design Irene McAra-McWilliam has been appointed director for the next year by the art school’s under-fire board.

Prof McAra-McWilliam has been a deputy director at the institution since 2016, the same year she was awarded an OBE.

The interim appointment has been announced less than a month after the resignation of Prof Inns amid growing questions over the fire protection measures which were in place when the two blazes broke out.

A statement from the art school said its board would be carrying out a “full candidate search” for a replacement for Prof Inns, previously head at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, who was appointed in May 2013.

It added: “The board wishes Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam every success in her new role and is confident that the Art School will continue to be a successful, independent and internationally highly esteemed art school under her leadership.”

Glasgow School of Art appoints new director as fire recovery continues

As usual, this Scotsman story has attracted the usual moron into it comment area, with this gem appearing there.

Antoine Bisset

“…as fire recovery continues”
What world of insanity is this?
The GSA is a pile of rubble. A pastiche may be built, but that’s it.

Far from promoting any of those associated with the place, they should all be jailed for the rest of their lives.

Read more at:

As I said in the opening above… “the previous director was ‘persuaded’ to fall on his own sword as a sacrificial offering to the baying hounds demanding a head“, only Antoine wants ANY of those associated with the place jailed for the rest of their lives. Does that include the cleaners, the kitchen staff, any students that studied there?

Me, for visiting, looking at the place, taking pics, and writing about it?

I can picture Antoine, at the head of the posse and lynch mob, picking out the best tree for the rope 🙂

Quite what this idiot means by finishing with ‘Read more at:’ is indicative of their level of intelligence, since it’s the link to the SAME article their informed and oh-so-helpful comment is posted after.


Dec 2, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

78 Derngate – Another Mackintosh creation to be saved (but in England)

Not sure how well-known 78 Derngate is outside the circle of Mackintosh ‘fanatics’, but it is a unique property which Mackintosh was involved in later in his career. He didn’t design the property, but was responsible for its later style.

78 Derngate was famously re-modelled by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1916 for his client, Northampton model engineer, W.J Bassett-Lowke. Purchased for Bassett-Lowke by his father as a wedding present, the house had originally been constructed 100 years previously.

You don’t have to head for Northampton if you want to get a feel for the house, there’s a reproduction of part of the interior to be found in the Mackintosh House exhibition which can be found in the Hunterian Art Gallery. Note that the art gallery has free admission, but there is a charge for the Mackintosh House exhibition within.

Not sure if I have any pics from past visits (the exhibition was free for a while, many years ago, so I did visit quite a few times), but this video – really a collection of stills – gives a tour of the actual house itself.

The house had to be restored to its original condition (as redeveloped by Mackintosh, not as originally built) after the work was covered over by drab paint.

In it original finish, it was yellow, very yellow, and very bright.

Led by Jane Preston, great niece of W.J Bassett-Lowke.

Nov 29, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S28

Well there you go.

The CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) swings from ‘bust’ to ‘boom’.

Last time out, it was crying in its beer and warning everyone it might go under as it wasn’t able to open its doors, thanks to the quarantine thrown up after Mackintosh Building fire.

Now, it can afford to throw a free party for one and all to celebrate the lifting of the quarantine, and return to normal service.

I think somebody should subject the CCA Board to the same sort of scrutiny and negativity which has recently been aimed at the Glasgow School of Art Board – or have it add the words ‘tact and diplomacy‘ to its agenda.

(Oh well, there goes MY free invite.)

Now that I’ve burnt that bridge, I’ll add that this looks like a promotion for the first exhibition after the re-opening, and other events, so the party is really riding on the back of that, rather than being ‘stand alone’.

Fingers crossed they get everyone back, on the other hand, do they really need friends who deserted them in the time of need?

A massive party is set to take place next month to celebrate the reopening of Sauchiehall Street businesses following the devastating art school fire in June.

And next month, they will join forces to “support the revival” of the area at a huge extravaganza – with all Garnethill residents, members of the local community, long-standing CCA supporters and regular visitors invited to attend!

Francis Mckee, CCA Director, said: “This is a party for everyone. We want to celebrate the reopening of our building and bring together all the people who supported us during the summer months and all those who want to support the revival of Sauchiehall Street and the Garnethill area. It’s time to look forward and definitely time for a party.”
Read More

CCA and Saramago Café Bar will be open right through to 3am with sets from Cucina Povera, Poisonous Relationship, Kübler-Ross and Sarra Wild.

The evening begins with the opening of CCA’s new exhibition, A Weakness for Raisins: Films and Archive of Ester Krumbachová, and the Scottish Queer International Film Festival will also have events on throughout.

The party is free entry all night and takes place on Friday, December 7.

CCA hosts huge community party to celebrate Sauchiehall Street reopening after art school fire

We’re Having a Party!

A little fun pic I haven’t had a chance to pull out of the files so far.

Just three contractors hanging around 🙂

Click for a little bigger.

Hanging Around The Mackintosh Building

Hanging Around The Mackintosh Building

Happy at their work.

Just Hanging Around At The Mackintosh Building

Just Hanging Around

Nov 25, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giant chainmail box begins around Mackintosh’s Hill House

I didn’t realise I’d made the mistake (way back at the start) of referring to the protective box being erected around Mackintosh’s Hill House as a ‘glass box’.

I hadn’t originally meant it literally, as the initial stories clearly referred to the box as allowing ventilation, meaning that it would protect the house from further wet weather damage, while allowing the water damaged structure to dry out slowly/naturally, while remedial work was carried out.

But the idea stuck, and I did reinforce it by referring to another protected house, in Argentina, which actually is in a real glass box.

The project is now underway, and the much better description of a ‘chainmail box’ has been applied.

I don’t think the initial stories gave that sort of detail, but it does make the plan clearer now.

(I really must try to get a proper look since I have no excuse not to. The train to Helensburgh passes not that far away.)

The first pieces of a pioneering plan to save Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic masterpiece from the driving West Coast wind and rain have been put in place with work now underway on the giant chainmail ‘box’ that will protect the property from the elements.

For more than 100 years, The Hill House in Helensburgh has been absorbing the worst effects of the weather putting the building and its unique interior at risk.

Now, a unique chainmail structure is being built around the property which will allow conservation work to continue and the property to remain visible to the public.

This semi-permeable metallic mesh pavilion, designed by architects Carmody Groarke, will allow the building to dry out over a number of years while conservation work continues.

The public will be encouraged to come onto the site and see how the project is progressing, with a community hut to open over the winter.

The work has been possible due to a public fundraising campaign which has generated £1.3m since February 2018.

A push to find the final £200,000 required to complete the work is now underway.

The total cost of the Box project is £4.5 million.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House gets giant chainmail ‘box’

As usual, The Scotsman’s ‘Comment Area’ after this story would be better described as a “Moron’s Area”.

I’m beginning to miss the days when my clever adblocker used to interpret the comment service used as ‘dangerous’ and blocked it.

Maybe it should have a setting for ‘useless’, and I should let it block the comment again, on that basis.

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

Hill House Enclosure Via NTS Image

Nov 24, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S27

Nice to see a robust defence from the board of the Glasgow School of Art, as it finally breaks it virtual silence in the face of nothing but days/weeks of negative comments and a lack of support that has verged on a witch-hunt, following the fires that struck the Mackintosh Building.

I sometimes wonder of those making such accusations and claims ever listen to themselves – I doubt it.

I have little time for those who exercise perfect 20/20 hindsight.

Regrettably, fires happen, despite best efforts.

If they didn’t, we wouldn’t have fire and emergency on constant standby.

The board of Glasgow School of Art has hit back at claims it failed to look after the A-listed Mackintosh building.

A submission to a parliamentary inquiry strongly defended its record following two devastating fires in four years.

In documents released ahead of an evidence session in parliament on Thursday, bosses denied claims of “systemic management failure”.

They said the school was “robust and well-managed” and fit and able to oversee repair of the iconic building.

MSPs on the culture committee have heard from architects and other experts but this is the first time those in charge of the art school have had their say.

Glasgow School of Art bosses hit back at fire criticism

There’s no honour, or demonstration of great intelligence (but maybe of a lack of that commodity)in the statement:

One Mackintosh expert described the Mack building as a “fire-trap waiting to happen” while another former employee said everyone knew the building was a risk.

Those ‘experts’ and ’employees’ would have been worth having if they’d done something useful, rather than stating the obvious.

As it is, they’re no better than the type of person who sniffs and says ‘Told you so’ when something happens.

The board gave a detailed response:

Detailed response

The board said it wanted to replace speculation with a factual position, and responded to a number of criticisms.

  • On claims there was a lack of transparency, the board said “there has been no intention to exclude people who want to know what has happened or what happens next”. It said a website was dedicated to putting out information following June’s fire, but accepted it was “not entirely successful in communicating with the public in the immediate aftermath”.
  • A temporary fire suppression system was not installed after the 2014 fire because there was no system “suitable for a building of the scale and complexity of the Mackintosh Building that could have been installed during the construction period”.
  • The school’s monetising of the Mackintosh building was limited in scope, and revenue amounted to no more than about £60,000 from tours of the building and the sale of merchandise.
  • On claims it failed to engage with experts, the board said it put in place an expert panel so that its design team could have access to the right advice when required. These experts have been called upon to provide advice to other institutions following major disasters including the National Museum of Brazil.
  • The board said events hosted within the building after the 2014 fire followed stringent procedures agreed with the contractors. About half a dozen events were held over the four years since the 2014 fire. “Safety of visitors and operatives and efficient site operations remained the absolute priorities at all times,” it said.
  • It rejected the idea of rebuilding the Mackintosh as a museum. “To strip it of its primary function and consign it to the status of a visitor attraction, would be to strip life and purpose from the building… converting the Mackintosh Building to a museum would not be an expression of responsible custodianship, it would be a piece of sabotage against our built heritage and a failure of our duty to future generations.”
  • In other submission papers, the board said the art school’s fire prevention plans had been worked up over many years. It stated: “It was suggested at the hearing on 20 September 2018 that ‘the failure was systemic and that there was a misjudged attitude to risk for such a hazardous and iconic building.’

“It is understood that none of the witnesses are experts in this area. We strongly rebut that allegation.

“We have always taken fire precautions seriously across our whole estate.

“Our decision to commission a water mist fire suppression system to enhance the protection of the Mackintosh building, and the installation of sprinkler systems within the Reid and Stow buildings demonstrates our approach.”

Elsewhere, the board said the decision on whether a public inquiry was necessary was a matter for the Scottish government.

Call for Trust to handle restoration

I had to look twice, since there have been so many nonsensical suggestions made in the wake of the Mackintosh Building fire, I read most of them “At arm’s length” lest they damage my brain,

But it really was something sensible, with calls for a trust to be set up to handle the restoration, leaving the Glasgow School of Art’s board to get on with the business of the school.

Will it happen?

Will someone screw it up?

We can only wait and see what develops.

The former director of Glasgow School of Art says a trust should be set up to restore the Mackintosh building.

Prof Tom Inns said such a move would leave the board of governors free to run the world renowned school.

In a submission statement to the culture committee, Prof Inns said the rebuild after the 2014 fire took up a large part of his working week.

He backed the suggestion of former GSA director Prof Tony Jones that a separate body should oversee the rebuild.

Prof Inns wrote: “Establishing such a trust would allow the board of governors and management team of Glasgow School of Art to focus on the task of running one of the world’s top art schools, leaving trustees of an independent trust and its executive team the challenge of what will be one of Scotland’s biggest heritage projects over the next 5 – 7 years.

“A Mackintosh Building Trust could be for the benefit of Glasgow School of Art but also for the benefit of others.

“Some form of Mackintosh Building Trust could be a game-changer for the development of Glasgow and the Sauchiehall Street area, boldly opening up access to creativity and the Mackintosh legacy within Glasgow.”

Prof Inns noted a similar approach had been taken in Dundee with the development of the £90m V&A museum.

It was developed in close collaboration between the Universities in Dundee, Dundee City Council, the Scottish Government and other partners.

Prof Inns added: “The V&A in Dundee is a museum dedicated to design, the Mackintosh Building should not be a museum but could be a centre of creative education for Glasgow School of Art and the City of Glasgow dedicated to all forms of creative practice and the celebration of Mackintosh’s genius.”

Ex-director backs call for Mackintosh restoration trust

That last add-on actually echoes one of my own thoughts regarding the city’s treatment of Mackintosh, which seems to lack a central resource dedicated to someone who has eventually become one of our icons.

While I would not be so ignorant or critical to say there is no facility dedicated to his work, what we have is spread fairly thinly in a number of places. While each may provide SOME of the story, I don’t think any one of them stands alone as a place where someone could find comprehensive coverage of Mackintosh’s work. They’re all quite nice in their own right, but not integrated.

As an aside, that observation is not reserved exclusively for Mackintosh. I could easily level the same criticism about our treatment of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, who has even less recognition and places dedicated to his work.

In recent years, I’ve been surprised after a little digging into these architectural greats, finding more examples of their work remain virtually hidden and unknown around Glasgow, unless you are dedicated to finding them.

Interesting response to trust proposal

I’m pretty sure I’m considered a ‘Yes Man (sorry, ‘person’) as regards the Art School Board, and I’m probably wasting my time be responding ‘Not so’. I just think we need level heads to move forward, not knee-jerk reactions and witch-hunts. If there is genuine blame to be apportioned, then let that follow from any proper reports into the fire, and their findings, otherwise – Give it a rest!

That said, I’m a little surprised to the response regarding a trust be formed to look after any rebuild/restoration, to leave the board free to run the Art School.

Earlier this week former GSA director Prof Tom Inns said a trust should be set up to restore the Mackintosh building.

In a written submission to the committee he said such a move would leave the board of governors free to run the world renowned school.

But Ms Gray claimed this was a “minority” viewpoint and stressed the board was capable of managing both the day-to-day running of the school and the restoration project.

On the other hand, I know how I’d feel if the task of restoring something I really cared about was taken out of my hand, so I can see both sides of this story.

The main theme of the article this was mentioned in was a statement by the Art School Board that it has failed to communicate.

During her evidence Ms Gray told the committee the circumstances surrounding the latest fire and the 2014 blaze were not comparable.

The broadcaster noted the first occurred during the day while the school was operational while the most recent broke out at night in a building that was still under construction.

Culture committee convenor Joan McAlpine asked Ms Gray if she had any regrets.

She replied: “We take full responsibility, at all times, for what happens at the GSA. Absolutely. One hundred per cent.

“Yes I have massive regrets that we have suffered two major disasters.

“In fact, I would say more than regretful, it has broken my heart.”

Ms Gray claimed the board had audited itself as rigorously as the committee and was “very self critical”.

But she added: “I do regret not having engaged more fully, and sooner, with the local community.

“I really do because that was, actually, a communications mistake.

“It was not intentional but the perception they had is valid.”

Art school admits ‘poor communications’ after Mack fire

Another article touched on the same subject, but, unfortunately let a politician speak, and make a grab for popularity (and votes) with the locals.

MSPs urged GSA chiefs to listen to the views of members of the community, having admitted that initial communication was poor.

Ms Gray said: “I really can’t tell you the kind of suffering that some of the residents have explained and we are massively sympathetic to that.”

Scottish Labour MSP Pauline McLean said: “I think you are deluding yourselves if you think that you have a good relationship with this community.

“If you want to rebuild your relationship with this community, you really need to start telling immediately what your plans are.”

The same article then made a fairly ‘throwaway’ comment, suggesting that preventative measures from a 2006 report were not effectively implemented.

This may be great for ‘points scoring’, but is just opportunistic ‘fluff’, and not presented with any evidence, so really falls into little more than the class of ‘Kicking someone when they are down’.

It’s clearly next to impossible to refute such a claim, but you can make yourself look ‘good’ if you raise it.

MSPs raised concerns that a number of preventative measures were not effectively implemented.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine referenced a federal report into fire safety at the GSA, published in 2006, which highlighted six areas that were deemed to present either a medium or high risk.

The issues were: Likelihood of a fire occurring in the building (medium to high risk); potential for fire to remain undetected (medium to high risk); potential for fire to grow/spread beyond item first ignited (high risk); potential for fire to grow beyond room of origin (high risk); hazard posed by fire (high risk); consequences in the event of the fire spreading (high).

No regrets over decisions taken before Mackintosh fire, say art school bosses

One article specifically mentioned the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s review – not yet completed or published.

Today, Muriel Gray said: “The GSA welcomed the opportunity to come to the committee meeting this morning so as to address the rumours, supposition and speculation that have been circulating since June 15 by sharing the facts with members.

“We submitted detailed paperwork to the committee in advance of the meeting to help answer questions around the restoration including issues of safety and access, and to clarify both the possession of the site at the time of the fire (Kier Scotland Ltd) and the GSA’s oversight of the restoration.

“In particular we were pleased to be able to tackle head on the allegation that there is a causal link between our corporate governance and the occurrence of the second fire when the cause of that fire is not yet known.

“Like everyone we are waiting patiently for the outcome of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s thorough review of the fire, and once it is published we will consider the findings carefully.”

It also included this clarification.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine MSP said: “The role of this committee is not to establish the cause of the fire, but to explore whether poor decision making or flawed processes contributed to the loss of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece.
Read More

Road closures ahead this weekend for Christmas Lights Switch On at George Square

“We have already gathered evidence from former employees, independent experts and local community leaders who have been critical of the art school management.

“We had an evidence session with the school’s architects and main contractor, which raised further questions about fire prevention and containment.

“We will put all these points to Glasgow School of Art management and board and will consider their response carefully.”

Glasgow School of Art issue statement ‘addressing rumours’ over second fire

By all means, bring out your stocks and rotting vegetables – but NOT BEFORE the independent evidence and reports are in, and they show such things are justified.


Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Mackintosh Building Scott Street Scaffolding

Nov 18, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: