Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Glasgow (1868 – 1928),
the renowned designer and architect of Glasgow (remember his Glasgow Art Studios burning down twice recently?) was asked by the publisher Walter Blackie (remember his books with the intriguingly illustrated covers?) to design a house for him near Glasgow.
The result was Hill House in Helensburgh. ‘Here’s the house’ said Mackintosh to Walter Blackie on completion of the house. ‘It is not an Italian villa, an English mansion House, a Swiss chalet or a Scotch castle. It is a dwelling house.’ And that certainly is what it is, the building and all its unique decorations and furnishings.
Now owned and maintained by National Trust Scotland, it is a treat for visitors to wander through its rooms and admire the exceptionally talented design work by both Margaret MacDonald (Mackintosh’s wife)
and Mackintosh himself. Totally unique and amazingly satisfying to the eye with absorbing aestheticism. It may be plain to the first view but stand and stare and the genius comes through.
Is it Arts and Crafts? Is it totally modern? Does it have influence from Art Nouveau? Secessionism? A fore-runner or Deco? Certainly not. It’s unique and therein lies the genius of Mackintosh.
Unfortunately, his aesthetics over-ruled building pragmatism. His rendering and some architectural features such as his window linings, eventually let in severe dampness. Cracks are clearly to be seen in the building. Damp penetration is most visible in many rooms near windows.
To remedy the situation, National Trust Scotland commissioned architects Carmody Groarke to design and install a protective cover to allow the building some measure of drying out whilst longer term remedies are sought to prevent its further decay.
Such is the importance we attach to the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A visionary design masterpiece.
A visit not to be missed.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Glasgow