By Marzena Asher, Library Volunteer
Nobody can imagine the Glasgow School of Art Library without a substantial collection of books about Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his work. The Glasgow School of Art acts as one of the main custodians of Mackintosh’s legacy, yet the fire that ravaged our Mackintosh Library in May 2014 destroyed the vast majority of our books on our famous architect and his artistic oeuvre, including several rare exhibition catalogues.
Since the fire, we have been humbled by the generosity of donors who have subsequently helped us to start rebuilding these lost materials. Understanding the importance of Mackintosh to the School and to Glasgow, these individuals have donated from their own collections valuable materials which have helped us to rebuild, at least partially, what was lost
Some of the more interesting volumes to come our way include Synthesis in Form by James Steele and the 1991 facsimile publication of Mackintosh’s Haus eines Kunstfreundes, originally published by Alexander Koch in 1902, of which only one thousand were produced (we now hold number 78). This compilation includes a number of very beautiful drawings.
We also received quite a lot of pamphlets and small catalogues from exhibitions held over the years at the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow. These include Flower Drawings, Chelsea Years, and many others. Of undeniable value to us is the 1952 monograph by Thomas Howarth Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement. We also received a large collection of books authored or compiled by Mackintosh expert Roger Bilcliffe. Among them are The Complete Furniture, Drawings and Interior Designs, Mackintosh Textile Designs, Mackintosh Watercolours, and many others.
We have now catalogued all these donations and have organised them into a dedicated Mackintosh Collection within our Special Collections, available for reference and research. Over the coming months and years we will continue to build and develop this collection, so that we hold as representative a sample of published books on Mackintosh as we can. We also hold a large number of supplementary copies of several books on Mackintosh, which can be freely consulted and borrowed from our Lending Collections.