The Glasgow Four Collection
The ‘Glasgow Style’ was created by Mackintosh and his contemporaries - Herbert McNair and two sisters, Margaret and Frances MacDonald. They met as students during the 1890s and became known as ‘The Four’ exhibiting their work across the world. Their work was a personal vision in the new international style of the 1890s, Art Nouveau, and is perhaps best known for Mackintosh’s architecture and furniture. Together, they drew from Victorian Puritanism and Celtic Spiritualism and created ground-breaking pieces. Elongated bodies and a characteristic dreamy palette were ever-present. Colours were light, neutral, metallic, natural and mythical at the same time. And yet, there were touches of modernity, like geometric symmetry which would, in time, lead the Applied Arts into the Art Deco period. The Moorcroft Glasgow Four Collection draws on the early Art Nouveau work of these pioneers and ventures into their Art Deco awakening.
ART IS THE FLOWER. LIFE IS THE GREEN LEAF. LET EVERY ARTIST STRIVE TO MAKE HIS FLOWER A BEAUTIFUL LIVING THING, SOMETHING THAT WILL CONVINCE THE WORLD THAT THERE MAY BE, THERE ARE, THINGS MORE PRECIOUS, MORE BEAUTIFUL - MORE LASTING THAN LIFE ITSELF. CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH, 1902.
Scotland Street Designer: Emma Bossons FRSA Shape: 158/8
Scotland Street School was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh between 1903-1906 for the School Board of Glasgow. With many features built into the stonework and staircases, there is something to admire around every corner. In her design, Emma incorporates downward triangles and uses strong colours - golden yellow with touches of emerald green, vermillion, blue and petunia – into a Moorcroft design with a distinctly art deco flavour. Scotland Street anticipated a new and individual way the decorative arts would change with the arrival of Art Deco in the next decade and Emma’s design captures this transition in Scotland Street.
Library Lights Designer: Emma Bossons FRSA Shape: 63/7
Whilst Moorcroft celebrated the launch of a new Mackintosh collection inspired by 78 Derngate, the only house in England designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, at 78 Derngate itself, the world was awoken to find that Mackintosh’s flagship building, The Glasgow School of Art, had been devastated by a second fire. The west wing of the Glasgow School of Art accommodated the school's most famous room – the Mackintosh Library – which was constructed around a complex framework of timber posts and beams influenced by traditional Japanese architecture. Prior to the horrific fire of June 2018, the library had been painstakingly renewed from American tulip wood. Described as "one of the finest rooms in Glasgow," Emma decided that she would endeavour to recreate the wonder of this room from the cluster of electric lights that cascaded from the centre of the ceiling. Mackintosh’s use of glass blowers to create gold, pink and purple streaky glass was to mark this room’s interior design out as his masterpiece. With skilful tubelined latticework, Emma captures the raw, modern industrial-geometrics of the ceiling light’s metalwork and softens it with Mackintosh’s subtle pinks, purples and amber infills. Sky-blue arches, reminiscent of how the huge, elongated windows that straddled the two floors would have allowed the blue skies to pour into the room, allow the spirit of the room to be resurrected within her own design.
The Willow Ladies Designer: Vicky Lovatt Shape: JU3
The 150th anniversary of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birth was celebrated with a preview of the ten million pound restoration of the original Willow Tea Rooms. While the art school was seen by experts as the finest achievement of Glasgow's best-known and visionary architect, many of the public will view the tea rooms as the place that defined the Mackintosh style where Charles and his wife, Margaret, worked in unison. The tea rooms are on Sauchiehall Street, which at the turn of the last century was Glasgow's finest street. The name of the street is thought to be a corruption of the Scots language phrase meaning meadow of the willows. The upper floors contained a smoking and billiards room for gentlemen, while the crowning jewel of the Willow, the Salon de Luxe – a lavender and silver-toned tea room, intended to appeal to a female clientele – took pride of place on the first floor of the building, taking full advantage of the northern light from Mackintosh’s new stained-glass bow window. Margaret Macdonald's Gesso panel in the Salon de Luxe, held a sculptural relief showing a woman among willow trees. It just so happens that one of Charles and Margaret's favourite poets and painters was Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who wrote the sonnet, All ye that walk in Willowwood. Moorcroft designer, Vicky Lovatt takes Margaret’s willow lady and makes it her very own, as two very feminine wispy figures bow their heads over soft, pink Glasgow roses as their hair sweeps down in Art Nouveau waves amidst a haze of willow green where Rossetti remembers the lost lady love who just may have walked through the willow groves that once whistled in the wind before the concrete pavements of Sauchiehall Street were laid down. The reverse of the classic art nouveau shaped jug features the delicate face of Rossetti’s willow lady love. In truth, it is this design that epitomises the love and wonderful gifts the Mackintosh couple gave to each other and the Applied Arts. In remembrance, and with added poignancy following the tragic second fire at the Glasgow School of Art, the words ‘Let Glasgow Flourish’ are found around the base of the jug.
The Lovers Designer: Kerry Goodwin Shape: 121/10
In their early days it was probably Frances McNair’s strange and eerie imagery that earned The Four their nickname the ‘Spook School’. In truth, McNair was not far behind his wife. His watercolour The Lovers also has a dark undertone to it. Moorcroft designer, Kerry Goodwin, removes McNair’s lovers from floating away into the purple ether and places them firmly back in a garden rich in greenery and a blazing sun. Tinged in purple, the hair on the more feminine forms replicates the colour of the sun, and the three androgynous forms gently nuzzle into each other as if awakening into a new world.
Cranston’s Queen Designer: Nicola Slaney Shape: 46/20
Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is perhaps overshadowed by her husband’s notoriety, nevertheless, Charles himself would comment on her genius, remarking in a letter to her ‘ You must remember that in all my architectural efforts you have been half of it if not three-quarters of them.’ Widely known for her stencil and gesso pictures, a type of high-relief linear design giving an affect not dissimilar to Moorcroft’s tubelining, for the tearooms that her husband designed for Catherine Cranston in Glasgow. Nicola cleverly depicts one of the four panels from 1909 of the playing cards flanked by court pages, which was set into the walls of the card room in Cranston's house. Elongated Queens circle the vase in flowing gowns of mustard yellow and ruby reds with ebony and ivory intersections for dramatic effect, making this Moorcroft design a trump card for any collection.
Spring Designer: Nicola Slaney Shape: 73/18
The Macdonald sisters completed a four seasons series, starting with Spring by Frances in 1897. The dichotomy between feminine and masculine aspects of the artwork is seen. Spring, especially, is seen as a fertile, maternal figure with her feminine attributes clearly delineated. While Frances designed Spring and Autumn, Margaret created Summer and Winter in 1898. It is said Frances struggled throughout her life with not fitting in, caught between the world of motherhood and the world of public expectations. Inspired by the MacDonald’s new kind of symbolic spirituality, Nicola draws on the ethereal qualities of the Spring design where the elongated female forms, plant roots and soft green leaves rise up as if under a spell to curve around the angles of the vase. The ladies appear to glide as if tree wisps from a supernatural realm and delicate spring flowers float like surreal blue butterflies gliding in an out of the long, dark silhouetted hair of the female forms. Purple is used in this design of indulgence to give the female form colours associated with regal titles and the divine feminine form. Indeed, it is this somewhat mysterious palette and imagery that gave The Four the reputation as the ‘Spook School.’