Sunday, 17 June 2018

The 'Mack' and Mackintosh 150 years, Glasgow's most famous landmark

The "Mack" Glasgow's much loved Art School
This year Glasgow celebrates 150 years since the birth of its most famous artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh. 
150 years major Exhibition Charles Rennie Mackintosh, ‘Making th Glasgow Style’ (1890 – 1920)
at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and museum – until 14 August. 2018 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of celebrated Glasgow architect, designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868–1928). 

At the core of this style is the work of The Four: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, his future wife Margaret Macdonald, her younger sister Frances Macdonald and Frances’s future husband, James Herbert McNair. Glasgow was the birthplace of the only Art Nouveau ‘movement’ in the UK and its style had an impact internationally – with Mackintosh and Macdonald exhibiting to great acclaim in Vienna. Around 250 objects are on display across the full spectrum of media, including stained glass, ceramics, mosaic, metalwork, furniture, stencilling, embroidery, graphics, books, interiors and architecture. 


It is wonderful to hear that the Willow Tearoomshave been refurbished and restored. On 7 June, art enthusiasts gathered to celebrate the launch of Mackintosh at the Willow, a £10m restoration of his iconic tearooms. Only a block away from the Mack, there was lots of excitement about the establishment of a Mackintosh quarter and the impact it could have. Heartbreaking that it could happened in the final stages of restoration.

The high street needs more unique experiences today. 
Glasgow boasts many unique art treasures; not least the impressive Kelvingrove museums, its university cloisters, the marbled stair cased town hall,  the Merchant City streets and the fine, delicate style of Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald’s art nouveau buildings which were heavily influenced by the clean lines of Japanese buildings.
At any one time there are exhibitions of Mackintosh’s work on in Glasgow, from walking tours to  visiting his well loved buildings – School for an Art lover, Scotland street school, Willow tea rooms, The Lighthouse, 
LAUCHLAN GOUDIE – Mackintosh: Glasgow’s Neglected Genius



Sadly though not his renowned art school…
Saturday 16thJune
Devastated of the news of the fire in Mackintosh’s Art school – unbelievable. Channel Four reports that a passing policeman raised the alarm. Was no one on site for fire protection – that is someone there guarding the site day and night to deal with this kind of event, which is predictable on an insecure building site. What were they thinking and who was the site manager?  
Another report the fire was sudden and spread through flammable materials - all seems very very strange - on the day the students were graduating and almost exactly four years since the original fire.
Thinking today of all the artists who studied there and how badly they must be feeling today. My thought was four years ago – this historic building was never made to house these ridiculous structures art students make today - AND THEY MUST BE MADE SOMEWHERE ELSE. Mackintosh’s art school should be only for an art museum and library – and not put at such risk ever again. 
Firefighters battle the horrendous blaze Friday night
"The rooms may smell of smoke, the hallways piled high with debris, but it's heartening to see how much of the Mackintosh and its contents survived."
"Whole rooms and their contents are left intact. The Mackintosh Room - used for board meetings - looks as if its occupants have just stepped out for a breath of air. The fireplace, light fittings, panelled bureau and distinctive windows show no trace of the devastating fire which swept through the building last Friday

“The Art School is, at the end of the day, one of the very best buildings of the early 20th century anywhere in the world.’ Appollo magazine

Edinburgh International Book festival 2018!



Freedom & Equality
This year the Edinburgh International book festival 2018 will explore our freedoms.  
EIBF provides open minded and challenging platforms to explore new ideas. Each year I attend the Edinburgh festival in the perfect setting of Charlottes Square August for photos and to enjoy some talks and to be inspired.  

Themes will include: - Freedom and Equality, Politics of Change, Sport and Society, Our Planet, Scottish Ideas, Music Makers, Mind and Body, Muriel Spark, Spoken Word. 

The year EIBF will host many writers who challenge the norms and encourage informed debate. *Famous names who will give talks this year – Clinton, Corbyn, Gina Miller, Yanis Veronfakes, Karl Ove Khausgaad, Ali Smith, Ian Rankind. Musicians, scientism, artists, historian and more are represented. Edinburgh was made the first Unesco City of Literature. 

The festival, in collaboration with the Scottish Government Expo fund, has commissioned essays - The Freedom Papers – which consider which freedoms we must protect and which ones give up for the good of society. 
The freedoms of the individual must not impede the necessary structures of a healthy society. A free democracy and free press. In an era of fake news and online click baits, we need professional gatekeepers and investigative journalism more than ever. With the break down of many religions  we need moral guidance. How do we than achieve a healthy balance, along with strong and stable family structures. Education and family are crucial for the core of an informed democracy,  
Alexander McCall Smith
Neil Gaiman
Hera Lindsay Bird
Jake Wallace Simmons 
Simon Callow
Lura Waddell
Paul Muldoon
More than ever we need ‘open spaces’ to discuss new worlds, adaptability, progress, to build bridges and for accountability. How do we encourage healthy, informed debates. 
To question the nature of our freedoms and the nature and health of our democracies.
Freedom can mean the right to vote, or the right of every nation for self determination. 

**The joy and love of books in central, and EIBF also has a large Childrens book festival. 

EIBF celebrate the written and spoken word in the perfect setting of Charlotte square Edinburgh. EIBF is a celebration of books, written words ideas, spaces to collaborate and exchange views, inspiring stories. retrieving and renewing. 

EDINBURGH INTERNAITONAL BOOK FESTIVAL - 11th to 27th August 2018
Statue of poet Robert Fergusson, muse of Robert Burns

Edina skyline from Calton hill


The Stones Murrayfield


The skies stayed clear for the Stones to rock Murryafield stadium – with Keith Richards recognisable riffs and the energy vibes of Jagger’s rhythmic dancing and melodic voice. A band clearly at home on stage!

There is something widely exhilarating to see live a band you have enjoyed and admired for many, many years! 
For the first part of their set they pleased their devoted fans with a well chosen hit selection - Start Me Up/ Lets Spend the Night Together/ Only Rock n Roll/ Talkin in Time/ Under my Thumb.


After which they revisited their R & B based roots with a blues song, when Mick mentioned the Glasgow Barrowlands and with black and white clips behind them. Some songs become stories in themselves and take the songs wide. Other songs have the simple and memorable riffs such as Under My Thumb.


Keith Richard plays acoustic guitar in the style of Robert Johnson, in the key of G and some of the best known riffs ever and we know the songs instantly. Jagger has a soft voice with great range, but not a rock voice. The Stones guitarists leave space for each other with a clarity of sound. When many bands fill up every available space with noise. 

As the evening light faded there was lots of ‘’oh oh oh’ singing as on I Miss You!  
Followed by She’s a Rainbow with Mick on guitar. They then took the tempo up again for their final hit selections - You Cant’ Always Get What you Want/ Paint it Black/ Honky Tonk Woman (when Mick introduced band) and a Keith Richard song followed by Please to Meet You/ I Miss You/ Brown Sugar/ Midnight Rambler/ Jumpin jack Flash. 
And for their encore they performed Gimme Shelter and Satisfaction!

My favourites tonight were Miss You, You Can't Always Get What You Want, Gimme Shelter and Jumpin Jack Flash. I wondered about their stamina at 75! And the energy required for drumming over a two hour set every night. They must have at least two road teams to set up for the next night of their tour. 

Hats off to the Stones for being one of the top and longest lasting rock bands in the world! Fans left happy to have heard their favourite hits. 

The Rolling Stones were started by Brian Jones, one of the Uks top blues guitarists in. He gave it their name and more than that their 'electric blues' sound. He realised that the niche market for R & B could be taken to a mainstream audience. The lost boy, never satisfied. Sadly he became the first of the '27 Club'. He was the UK's first slide guitarist and one of the best blues guitarists in London at that time. Before he left home, Jones said - 'I'm gonna move to London, start a band and I'm going to become rich and famous.'     

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Exploring Hebridean Isles: on the Edge

chapel Saint Barr on Barra
boat Oban to Barra
beach on south Uist

We took the Oban ferry to Castlebay on the isle of Barra. On the edge of exploring the whipped dark blue seas held time aloft and the tides carries us across. The bright westward skies shone brightly as we sailed oe’r swells and past looming mountains….
To the edge of Scotia’s Western Isles, to their stunning and varied landscapes, beaches, rocky outcrops, purple mountains, and a haven for wildlife, the roar of the Atlantic surrounds all here.  
This is a place of strong contradictions – from rugged coastlines, to the largest stretches of clear white sands and turquoise waters; and in the late light the bluest softest hues. 

I read of the great Bards and Myth makers. I read of the crofters forced to leave their homelands for unknown fates in far away lands – to Canada, to Indian reservations and not to the farms that had been promised and of how they missed the Atlantic seas.  At the  Castlebay museum I read of Father John MacMillan.  North Uist and south Uist are Protestant and Catholic – and they get along! 
Caisteal Chiosmull castle Barra
And the great war devastated these islands. Before the war Barra was the centre for the herring industry. The war meant all the young men left to fight in the navy. Then in 1921, 22, 23 there was UK government sponsorship to leave the islands. (to populate the colonies with white people)  The population went from 3,700 to 1,800.  Some managed to return, and some died on the journey. I read of the clan chief Macdonald in Edinburgh and his deciding on the fate of those living on the island. I read of Colonel Gordon of Cluny who bought the islands and ordered the clearances to make way for sheep over people.
Vatersay beach
Barra airport
Barra has a 17th century castle Caisteal Chiosmull castleat the entrance to its bay at Castelbay, owned by the McNeills. Similar to other islands, the drive on the west coast has picture perfect sandy beaches, and the drive on the east coast is rocky and more mountainous. To the north lies the only beach with scheduled flights and we had lunch at the café here.

Out on the peninsula we found the small chapel of Saint Barr.  South of Barra, lies the quiet island of Vatersay connected by a small bridge. We took photos at what could have been a tropical island, although there was cool there. Another photographer told us of the shrine to Eilidh MacLeod, who lost her life a year ago at the Manchester bombing. So sad she left this beautiful place to die at the Arianna Grande concert.

Vatersay


We then took the small ferry over the often difficult crossing to Eriskay and  Uist. Uist has large mountains on it east. We found the bonny location for the Polochar Inn and the drive over the causeways., funded by the EU We visited the interesting Uist museum which told the stories of the forced evictions to Canada. There was the nature reserve  to protect endangered birds such as corncrakes. This is part of an important European Conservation Machairproject to save endangered spices. I wondered, will the UK fund and set up a UK Conservation Machair project, after Brexit?

Uist beach

waves at nature reserve Uist

Early on the Friday we headed across on the carefully manoeuvred crossing to the more prosperous isle of Harris. Harris is the most developed Western isles. I had expected it to be more isolated and remote than Lewis. The Harris beaches on the west coast look out over the welcoming Atlantic and are well worth photographing. Tarbert is nestled in its northern mountains – a ferry port with Harris Gin and Harris Tweed shopsThen we took the treacherous Gold Road over the rocky eastern side and stayed at the beautifully renovated old school house.


On Lewis its worth visiting its historic sites – the Callanais stones, the blackhouse village, the Carloway Broche.  Then we headed for the port of Stornaway - it was a Sunday and all was closed except for the church and one hotel - and took the modern Caledonian McBrae ferry, which was like a floating cafeteria, back to the picturesque highland town of Ullapool.

the Callanais stones on Lewis

Ullapool
Carloway Broche