Open Artist Commission - Mural competition

Calling all artists – Creative Learning at Mackintosh at the Willow

As part of the exciting restoration and reinvigoration of the tearooms at Mackintosh at the Willow (215-217 Sauchiehall Street) we now have a brand new arts education room. We’ll be using it to run workshops that inspire kids and young people, community groups and Mackintosh fans alike. But at the moment this is difficult because the room is a big white box!

Could you help us turn it into something that captures the spirit of Mackintosh but also encourages a whole lot of artistic flourishing in every person who walks through the door?

Artist brief

We invite anyone who lives in Scotland (birth or residency) to submit designs for the two large sliding cupboard doors in the art room (see details of specs below.) The chosen images should be connected in some way to the heritage and should inspire artistic output. There will be a £500 commission fee for the chosen image, which the Trust will transfer to wall vinyl to be fitted to the doors.

How you choose to creatively respond is totally up to you! Maybe you are inspired by Mackintosh’s iconic designs, or Margaret Macdonald’s friezes or Miss Cranston’s business savvy. Maybe you want to draw from pattern work or Art Nouveau but update it for a 21st century classroom. Maybe you love tea paraphernalia or steampunk or graphic novels or something else that you want to fuse with the tea rooms. We’d love to see your ideas!

Of course Mackintosh at the Willow is rightly proud of its famous son, but when Miss Cranston gave Mackintosh the commission he wasn’t the art rock star he is now. In that spirit we would stress that we’d love absolutely anybody who wants to enter to do so.


The chosen design will be selected by some children and a panel from Mackintosh at the Willow who will own the image outright, covering any future use.

We want to be as fair and encouraging to all as possible, so the competition will be judged anonymously. Please do not include your name or identifying mark on the image. Entries should be submitted with ‘Arts Education brief- artist’s name’ in the subject line.


  • There are two sliding doors, each measuring 170cm x 193cm. The right side door tucks behind the left and both have handles and locks so we suggest including a border of around 10cm for each. Bear in mind that a design for each door would be easier than trying to line up one image that spans the two, but it can be a repeat or a continuation.
  • The design must be age appropriate, as primary school children will be regularly using the space as well as adult learners.
  • Please bear in mind the winning image will be enlarged significantly.
  • Entries should be submitted by email or dropped into the building (Arts Education Department) with the final chosen image resubmitted via a format that allows for a suitably high resolution, such as a pen drive.

If you have any further questions feel free to email the arts education manager –

Entries should be submitted to the same email address by the end of the day, 30th September 2018.

A Royal Visit - 07 September 2018

Today we marked the completion of the restoration of the Tea Rooms with a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay to Mackintosh at the Willow for the official opening. The Royal couple enjoyed their tour of the new Exhibition centre and of the fully restored Mackintosh designed Tea Rooms and we were delighted to welcome them and to receive such positive comments and feedback on their visit.

Celia Sinclair, Chair and Founder of the Willow Tea Rooms Trust and the visionary behind the whole restoration project, welcomed the Duke and Duchess and introduced some of team and the expert craftsmen and women involved. HRH Prince Charles put in place the final wood carving on the centrepiece baldacchino in the Front Saloon on the ground floor of the Tea Rooms, to mark the completion of the work.

Mackintosh at the Willow - now open

We're delighted that Mackintosh at the Willow opened its doors to the public from 02 July.  We are still a work in progress with some work ongoing and finishes to be completed but it's great to be welcoming so many local and international guests and we already have some regulars! The Willow is doing a phased opening during July and August and will be extending opening hours and expanding the menu over the next few weeks and months with the full menu available from September. Currently open from 9am to 5pm 7 days a week The Willow serves breakfasts, elevenses, light lunches, afternoon teas, high tea as well as coffees, teas and selected wines, gins and other refreshments. Our Retail Store is also open with a great variety of hand selected gifts and souvenirs available. The Store will be expanded over the next few weeks with a wider range of great products to choose from.

We've teamed up with the CRM Society who are providing an information and tours desk from the ground floor of our Visitor Centre. Visit our website for details and pricing of tours.

Our Exhibition space will open from early September and will tell the story of Miss Cranston, the rise of the tea rooms and the collaboration with Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh at the Willow operates as a social enterprise and some of our waiting staff who'll serve you and our kitchen staff are young Princes Trust Scotland trainees, developing their skills and building their careers with us. As a social enterprise we'll also be extending our schools and community work done by our Learning and Education team and that's something that will increase after our dedicated Learning and Education suite opens later in the year. Something else to look forward to will be the opening of our conference facilities which along with the Tea Rooms means we can offer exciting and unique meeting, conference and events options in the heart of the city. We're also looking forward to the completion of our roof terrace at the back of our Visitor Centre which will be a great spot to relax with a tea or glass of wine.  So there's a lot still to do and new members of the team still to join - and lots to look forward to in the coming months and years. For more information visit Mackintosh at the Willow. To make a reservation click here

Mackintosh at the Willow

A lot has happened since our last update. We were delighted to be able to hold a preview event showing progress to date, on 07th June to mark the 150th anniversary of Mackintosh's birth. After a lot of hard work by the contractor teams, the project team and even friends and family it all came together!  Our Chairperson and founder of the Trust, Celia Sinclair spoke to guests about the story of the restoration and what it means to her. Mackintosh at the Willow's CEO Marcus Kenyon welcomed guests and shared more about plans going forward. Guest speakers included Dame Seona Reid of the Heritage Lottery Fund,  Glasgow Lord Provost Eva Bolander and Advisory Panel member Professor Pamela Robertson. We were delighted to welcome all our guests and press at the preview and it was lovely to hear all the positive comments and feedback from the day. All our young Prince's Trust trainees did brilliantly on the day as well and it was great to see so many guests enjoying the preview. 

Opening plans - introducing Mackintosh at the Willow

We know there's a lot of interest in when we're opening and when you'll be able to visit us. We're delighted with all the support and interest - thank you to everyone. We also appreciate your patience waiting for news and updates whilst the project team, site teams and all our contractors, partners, suppliers, experts, craftspeople, designers and everyone involved have been working hard to get ready to welcome you again. 

We will be marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh next week with a preview visit for a private group of guests including our funders on Thursday the 7th June whilst we continue to get ready to open to the public.

The beautiful original Willow Tea Rooms Building at 217 Sauchiehall Street, will open again to the public from 02 July 2018, following a £10 million pound restoration and thanks to the support of Heritage Lottery Fund and other funders. We will also be opening our new Visitor Centre next to the Tea Rooms, at 215 Sauchiehall Street. 

The Tea Rooms and our Visitor Centre will open under the new name of "Mackintosh at the Willow" and will include a 200 seat restaurant, open across 3 floors in this internationally recognised building.

Our new Visitor Centre will include a Retail Store, interactive exhibition area, conference facilities, roof terrace and dedicated learning and education facilities. We're also working with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society who will be running a tour and information desk on the ground floor of our Visitor Centre.

We will have a phased opening during the summer of 2018, with the official opening of "Mackintosh at the Willow" in September 2018.

Our Retail Store within the Visitor Centre will open to the public for preview visits from 2pm next Thursday 7th June 2018 and will fully open from early August. The Tea Rooms will cater for a small number of pre-booked groups throughout June, opening up to the public on 2nd July with a limited menu which will be expanded over the summer into our full menu. The interactive Exhibition area will open at the beginning of August and the Audio Visual Theatre complementing the Learning and Education suite will be available from August.

We'll continue to share information and updates on our plans for 02 July when we open. We'll also be launching our new website very soon where we'll share more information and updates including how you can book, sample menus and what you can expect when you visit us. 

We look forward to welcoming you to Mackintosh at the Willow later this summer.

Glasgow Traditional Building Skills apprenticeship event

At the end of April and early May we were delighted to take part in the @scottradbuild Glasgow Traditional Building Forums Annual Traditional Building Skills apprenticeship event. The event aims to demonstrate career opportunities for school leavers and job seekers in heritage construction and the wider construction industry. Working with local colleges, national heritage organisations and members of the heritage construction industry the forum runs a series of ‘Taster’ workshops which allow local school children to try a range of heritage building skills. The event ran as a pop up venue on Sauchiehall Street, outside the Tea Rooms.  We ran stenciling taster workshops, working with Glasgow based Stencilling artist, Elisabeth Viguié Culshaw.  100 pupils from 6 schools participated, a great result. It's a fantastic initiative, we were delighted to be asked to take part and great to see it recognised in @ScotParl Motion by @SandraWhiteSNP with thanks to all that made it possible.




Community engagement


During May we've also continued our education and community outreach activities. Most recently Sula, our Learning & Education Officer took part in the Glasgow Gurdwara Healthy Living Event, running stencilling workshops for the participants. We'll be further developing our work with local schools and communities throughout the year. Our heritage project and activities are supported by National Lottery Funding so as always big thanks to @heritagelotteryfund and of course all the support raised by #NationalLottery players!


Opportunities and partnerships

We're delighted to be working with @PrinceTrustSco and @Dumfries_House who've recruited and trained a group of young people over the last few weeks.  It's been great to see the @PrincesTrustSco trainees celebrate their achievements when they recently successfully completed their training. For the last few weeks they've been learning about Mackintosh, Mackintosh at the Willow and of course very importantly, they've been developing and honing their catering and customer service skills and having a taste of working in the hospitality industry as they begin their careers. Some of the young people will be joining the team at Mackintosh at the Willow and we'll share more news on that soon. Through the restoration project and our plans going forward we'll be creating various opportunities for young people to develop their skills, through employment, volunteer and work experience opportunities and through participation in our learning & education programmes. All thanks to support from @HLFScotland and #NationalLottery players. 

The Year of Young People - creating opportunities

2018 is officially Scotland's Year of Young People and we’re delighted to be working in partnership with Dumfries House and Prince's Trust Scotland who are offering an exciting new 5 week hospitality training programme. 

If you or someone you know is age 18-30 and looking to kick start your career and get into hospitality then read on…

The training programme will include the chance to gain:

  • Experience working back and front of house
  • Barista training
  • Your bar licence

At the end of the training programme successful candidates will also have the chance of potential job opportunities at Mackintosh at the Willow, when we open our exciting new tourism and visitor attraction in the Glasgow’s city centre this June.

For details call The Prince’s Trust Scotland on Freephone 0800 842 842 or visit Prince's Trust Scotland

If you’re walking along Sauchiehall Street this weekend or next week take a look at the posters on display in the window at No. 199, just a few doors down from where Mackintosh at the Willow is currently under wraps during the completion of the restoration and will open at No. 217 Sauchiehall Street #YOYP2018 #future #opportunity #217thewillow

Inspirational women - international women's day

It's International Women's Day and we're celebrating some truly inspirational, innovative and forward thinking women. The first is the inspirational Miss Kate Cranston, a true entrepreneur, highly successful business woman, innovator and forward thinker, a major patron of Mackintosh & Margaret Macdonald and of course the original owner of the famous original Willow Tea Rooms Building at 217 Sauchiehall Street, then the place to see and be seen and soon to reopen it's doors! 

Another inspirational woman is Margaret Macdonald. Margaret was a wonderful, innovative and influential Scottish artist, one of The Glasgow Girls group of artists and one of the key figures of the ‘Glasgow Style’ design, a member of the ‘Glasgow Four” who were highly influential to international art nouveau and a key influence and source of inspiration to her husband Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

At the start of the 20th Century a group of women, for the first time, were allowed to attend classes at the Glasgow School of Art. Margaret and Frances, along with Jessie Newbery, Ann Macbeth and Jessie M. King, became known as The Glasgow Girls and were instrumental to the evolution of decorative and interior design and what became known as the ‘Glasgow Style’. Margaret first collaborated with her sister Frances when they opened the MacDonald Sisters Studio at 128 Hope Street, Glasgow in the 1890s, creating varied, innovative and exciting work, inspired by Celtic imagery, symbolism, literature and folklore. She later married Charles Rennie Mackintosh who cited her as a key inspiration, influence and supporter of his work. They worked closely together on interior design, creating forward looking, futuristic designs ahead of the time that still feel modern today.

Their successful design collaboration included their work for entrepreneur and forward thinking successful business woman Miss Catherine Cranston, on her fashionable and popular Tea Rooms in late Victorian Glasgow – which were places where high society and the avant garde met and socialised. The design and décor they created was a key contributing factor to the success and interest of Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms. In the early 1900s, Margaret continued to work with her husband on a series of interiors including for their own home, for the House for an Art Lover, on exhibitions and competitions and for the iconic Salon de Luxe in the famous Willow Tea Rooms Building at 217 Sauchiehall Street where Margaret created the beautiful gesso panel. As an artist in her own right she contributed to over 40 exhibitions throughout Europe and America and was celebrated by many of her peers including Mackintosh who is quoted as having said that whilst he had talent he believed Margaret had true genius. She also received many prizes jointly with her husband but often there is little mention of her many achievements and contribution to the world of art and design in her own right and she has often been overshadowed by her more celebrated and talented husband. 

Miss Cranston’s fully restored Willow Tea Rooms Building at 217 Sauchiehall Street will reopen this June, showcasing the wonderful interior and exterior design as it was when it first opened in 1903. Visitors will be able to learn more about the story of the Tea Rooms and Glasgow at the time and about  the collaboration between Miss Cranston, Margaret Macdonald, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and their contribution, influence and significance in creating this wonderful and internationally significant building.

Not forgetting our modern day inspirational woman - Celia Sinclair, founder and Chairperson of The Willow Tea Rooms Trust, successful business woman and entrepreneur and the driving force behind the restoration of Miss Cranston's Willow Tea Rooms Building and the new Visitor Centre - both soon to open to the public under the name 'Mackintosh at the Willow'. 

Historical photos courtesy Annan Photography.