The Scottish Arts and Crafts Movement began to develop in the late 1880s more than twenty years after the first William Morris shop opened in London. Francis Newberry arrived at The Glasgow School of Art from London to become the Head. He was a great admirer of William Morris and The Arts and Crafts Movement so encouraged the students to take an interest in the Arts and Crafts of England and Europe by introducing a range of crafts at The Glasgow School of Art which included pottery, embroidery, metalwork, stained glass and wood carving.
Four of the students who took part were Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Herbert MacNair, and Margaret and Frances MacDonald who were later to become central figures in the creation of The Scottish Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland which later became known as ‘The Glasgow Style’.
In 1896, an Arts and Crafts Exhibition was held in London where the four students exhibited a range of work which included metalwork panels, posters, furniture and silverware. The Glasgow Style was known for its use of Celtic imagery with motifs and a style of lettering which had been inspired by the carvings on 17th century tombstones. One of the most popular motifs was ‘The Glasgow Rose’ which was used widely in the Glasgow Style of art and design.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh became the most well known of the group. He was a Scottish architect, furniture designer, water colourist, and artist and was influenced by Asia, in particular Japan, because of ” its restraint and economy of means rather than ostentatious accumulation; its simple forms and natural materials rather than elaboration and artifice; the use of texture and light and shadow rather than pattern and ornament”.
Mackintosh later went onto marry Margaret MacDonald while Herbet MacNair married her sister Frances.
Herbert MacNair was probably the least well known member of the group but helped pioneer The Glasgow Style. He was a furniture designer, book illustrator, and artist and later a well regarded teacher.
The MacDonald sisters opened a studio in Glasgow where they were inspired by Celtic imagery, literature, symbolism and folklore. Margaret was probably best known for her gesso panels made for interiors which had been designed by her husband Mackintosh for tea rooms and private residences.
Frances also produced gesso panels, embroidery and water colours and the two sisters became members of The Glasgow Girls which included women artists and designers.
Even though Francis Newberry recognised the similarities between the group of four’s work, it was Charles Rennie Mackintosh who became world famous as one of the leading influences in The Scottish Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland.
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