Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born on June 7th, 1868, on Parson Street in Glasgow, Scotland. As a young man he apprenticed with a local architect then, in 1889 moved on to a larger, more established firm in the city. To compliment his apprenticeship, Mackintosh began taking classes at the Glasgow School of Art, and it was there that he met  Margaret MacDonald, her sister Frances MacDonald and Herbert MacNair (who was also a fellow apprentice with Mackintosh at the architectural firm Honeyman and Keppie.) Mackintosh would later marry Margaret MacDonald and, together with Frances and Herbert, become known as “The Four.” They formed an informal creative alliance which produced innovative and at times controversial graphics and decorative art designs which made an important contribution to the development and recognition of a distinctive ‘Glasgow Style’. This was all during the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement.

If you travel to Scotland there are several place you can visit that will show you Mackintosh’s architectural work. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh (CRM) Society‘s website is a good place to find information on his buildings and displays of his design work. There are a few gems that shouldn’t be missed including The Hill House, the Glasgow School of Art and the Willow Tea Room.

The Hill House

The Hill House is located in Helensburgh, Scotland and was designed as a residence for a prominent Glasgow publisher. Charles and Margaret designed the home as well as many of the interior fittings and furniture. (Image by Mrs. Billerman on Flickr. Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

The Glasgow School of Art is considered Mackintosh’s ‘masterwork,’ and still functions as an art school today. Tours are available.

The Willow Tea Rooms are both located in Glasgow. The tea room on Sauchiehall Street is the one originally designed by Mackintosh, while the Buchanan Street address is described as a replica of a CRM design. Either would be a wonderful place for tea or lunch. (Image by acb on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Film: Local Hero

Film Poster: Local Hero

1983; Bill Forsyth, Director

Whenever I need a lovely, Scotland fix, one of my fav films to turn to is “Local Hero.” If you haven’t seen it, put it on your list. When it was released in 1983, it received wonderful reviews. Now, given the pervasiveness of cellular phones, this film looks sweetly dated by the ever-present (and all important) red phone box. In the film, an American oil company sends their man to a remote, Scottish town, with a directive to buy the entire village, so a refinery can be built in it’s place. The film is filled with wonderful characters, and the kind of humor that ensues when a “sophisticated outsider” has a bit to learn about small town life.

Only 2 or 3 locations were used to shoot this film, all of which are places you can visit yourself. The village is portrayed by the small town of Pennan, in Aberdeenshire. There is not much to the town, which perches on the edge of the sea, at the base of a cliff, facing North. Just enough room for a short road running the length of the village, with buildings on one side and the sea on the other. Lovely in idyllic weather. Intimidating to say the least, when an arctic gale blows straight into the harbor. If you love the film, it’s worth a visit. The phone box is still there, as is the Pennan Inn. A good stop for a cuppa’ and a phone call.

The village of Pennan.

The beach used in the film can be found on Scotland’s West coast, at Camusdarach, Morar.  Being on the West Coast implies more frequent rainy weather, but it still looks worth the trip. Besides, there’s no traveling to Scotland without the best rain gear, so you’ll already be prepared!

I’m not sure about Netflix DVDs, but the film is available on Amazon as a free, streamable movie through their Amazon Prime program.

Meet My Inspirations

My grandparents, Peggy and David.

Before my grandparents left for America.

These are my grandparents, Peggy and David. They were both born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland in the early 1900’s and arrived in the United States in the ’20’s. To say they lived the American dream is to over-simplify their story, but it seems to clearly explain why my grandfather chose to leave home. David came to this country and did hard, physical work. He became passionate about unions and the opportunity of democracy. My grandfather worked to become an American citizen, and eventually bought a home, establishing a sense of permanence.

Things weren’t quite the same for Peggy. My grandmother never became a citizen and always had visions of returning to Scotland to live. She even resorted to taking my mother there and living for a year or so without my grandfather. I wish they were here today so that I could better understand their passions, but I’m fairly sure that my love for Scotland is genetic. My mother has it and her mother never lost it. So, it is for them that I launch this blog. My grandfather told me once that you should do what you love. It’s taken me a long time to put all the pieces together, but . . . here goes.

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PS. BTW, my grandmother’s family found out she was engaged when they saw this photo in the window of a local photographer. That minx.