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.

Getting creative in 2018 - at The Mackintosh Church

A Happy New Year to everyone. We're looking forward to counting down the next few months until we open the doors of Mackintosh at the Willow in June - with the project team, site team and all our partners, associates and master crafts people busy making that happen. Our schools and community programme continues and our Stencilling Stations begin again from February. Our first creative workshop of 2018 has just completed and was a great success. We worked with The Lansdowne House of Stencils and our hosts the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society to run a gesso making workshop at the beautiful venue of The Mackintosh Church at Queen's Cross. Lots of great feedback and thanks to everyone involved for making it a great success. 

Christmas Wishes and looking forward to 2018

We're looking forward to an exciting New Year when we launch Mackintosh at the Willow and reopen the doors of the original Mackintosh Tea Rooms at No. 217 and the new integrated Visitor Centre at No. 215. We'll also be joining the celebrations for Mackintosh150 and the 2018 year long programme of events to celebrate Mackintosh and his legacy. We'll be sharing more news in January and throughout the year. Thanks to everyone for their support in 2017 and we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the team at The Willow Tea Rooms Trust.


Mackintosh 150

It's very exciting to be part of the Mackintosh 150 year long programme of events for 2018, to celebrate his 150th anniversary. We’re working with other Mackintosh heritage partners across Glasgow and further afield, as we collectively celebrate Mackintosh throughout 2018 and beyond.

We and all the partners involved hope to share Mackintosh’s legacy and to inspire younger generations and their interest in art and design.

With Glasgow home to the world’s finest collection of Mackintosh design and buildings it’s fantastic to be able to share and encourage visitors to explore and enjoy the many wonderful buildings and learn and experience more about Mackintosh’s wonderfully creative genius and design legacy.

And of course we’re delighted to launch Mackintosh at the Willow when we reopen the fully restored original Mackintosh Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street in early June 2018 and the new Exhibition and Visitor Centre next door at 215 Sauchiehall Street.

Look out for more news on our website, Facebook and Twitter on the events and activities planned for Mackintosh at at the Willow and for the Mackintosh 150 programme as we'll be sharing more news from January as we count down count down to opening on 07 June.


Master crafts on the restoration

Delighted to meet John Creed and Alan Dawson today, both master blacksmiths and two of the expert makers involved in the restoration. Alan is working with large forged work with steel, making the external attachments to the façade and John is fabricating internal lamps in brass and copper. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the birds and one of the bells Alan is making for the signage on the external façade. 

Visiting Glasgow Gaelic School

We had a great afternoon visiting and working with the pupils of Glasgow Gaelic School. Everyone seemed to enjoy creating some lovely and very colourful stencils as well as learning more about Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Thanks to all the pupils and teachers for their warm welcome and enthusiasm. 

Dress by design - 1903 to 2018

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald were involved in every aspect of design of the original Tea Rooms at 217 Sauchiehall Street. That includes the architectural, external and interior designs, furniture, cutlery, menus and even the waitress uniforms.  This is one of our favourite photographs of two of the waitresses at the time -with thanks to the CRM Society for use of the photograph. Plus a more recent one of the students at Cardonald College, who are busy planning and designing the new waitress uniforms for when we open next summer.

Garnetbank Primary Aftercare Club

Thanks to the lovely pupils and their teachers from Garnetbank Primary Aftercare Club who came along to our Stencilling Station and had a go at creating some lovely stencils. Great to see lots of focus and learning going on and Charles Rennie Mackintosh as well as creating some great art!