To the Lighthouse

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No, not a review of the novel by Virginia Woolf, but a report of my visit to the Lighthouse centre in Glasgow last Sunday. I was up there for a Conference that started on Monday but had to travel up the day before. Arriving and checking into my hotel around 2 p.m., I had a few hours to explore the city centre.

I’m an admirer of the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and have visited most of the main buildings he designed in the city. The Lighthouse

Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture, is a visitor centre, exhibition space and events venue situated in the heart of Glasgow, just off the Style Mile. The Lighthouse acts as a beacon for the creative industries in Scotland and promotes design and architecture through a vibrant programme of exhibitions and events.

It’s located in the former Glasgow Herald building the first public commission worked on by Mackintosh. At the time (1895) he worked as a draughtsman in the architectural practice of Honeyman and Keppie . They were responsible for designing a warehouse at the back of the printing office of the paper in Mitchell Street. He is unlikely to have been responsible for the whole of the building, but probably designed the tower – a prominent feature – which originally contained a water tank holding 8,000-gallons of water to be used in the event of a fire. A little ironic, perhaps, given the major damage caused to his most important building, the iconic Glasgow School of Art, which was very badly damaged in May 2014 when a fire broke out.

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It’s a tall, narrow building with office and exhibition space. There’s a shop selling Mackintosh related merchandise on the ground floor with the main exhibition spaces being on the next couple of floors.

I started by making my way up to the Mackintosh Interpretation Centre or ‘Mack’ Centre, which “celebrates Glasgow’s most famous architect and explores his life and work”  which is located on the third floor.

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It’s a relatively small, but informative and interesting, exhibition that tells the story of Mackintosh’s work with examples of furniture and other objects he designed and photographs, drawings and models of his buildings around Glasgow and it’s environs.

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After looking around I made my way up the stairs to the top of the tower which is now a viewing platform. It was a serious climb up a long spiral staircase. This what it looked like from the top

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From the narrow outdoor balcony there was a view out over the rooftops of Glasgow. It’s not exactly Paris, though.

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In the other part of the building there’s an indoor viewing gallery, only accessible by lift. So I made my way down the spiral staircase (easier than going up!) and took the lift up to here. There was a similar view over Glasgow but I was also able to get a good look at the water tower.

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Mackintosh type style and ornamentation were certainly discernible in its design.

Then I went to have a look in the exhibition galleries. The main exhibition showing at the moment is Weather Forms which

presents art and architectural works that challenge the popular idea that ‘people make places’ by demonstrating that they, in fact, make us.

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There was also a small exhibition on one of the landings, Weaving DNA

an immersive textile exhibition borne from a collaboration between Icelandic product designer Hanna Dís Whitehead and Scottish textile designer Claire Anderson. Together they re-appropriate traditional Nordic and Scottish textiles, examining the ways in which these represent and shape aspects of national identity.

I thought it was interesting with the exhibits imaginatively displayed, even if the space was a little cramped

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