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Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Formative Years and Education Essay

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Updated: Mar 2nd, 2022

Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a known architect, designer of his times and his works still live today as can be observed in places such as Martyrs’ Public School and Scotland Street School. This man was a Scottish designer, architect and water colourists. Born in Glasgow in 1868 as the fourth out of eleven children, he attended Reid’s public school and also the Allan Glens institution. He was apprenticed to architect John Hutchison at the age of 16 years and worked for five years. Mackintosh started and lived most of his life in Glasgow city where many aspects motivated him into his works.

The city provided a motivating environment in the sense that it had the greatest shipbuilding and engineering works in the world. This played a very significant role in the life of Mackintosh. Due to the prosperity of the city, there was an increased demand for arts and other related works. (Davidson, Fiona 1998)This occurred alongside industrial revolution and this was quite influential in the career of Mackintosh. After completing his apprenticeship training in 1889 he went to Honeyman and Keppie where he learned more that also contributed to the growth of his talent. While working for Hutchison he met his wife Margaret MacDonald.

While he was at the art school he formed important collaboration with people like Herbert McNair, Margaret and Frances Macdonald. With this unity they made various arts in metalwork and illustrations that were taken to towns such as London, Vienna and Glasgow. With this collaboration, he was able to learn new symbolic forms that were appreciated even in Europe. Through his interesting forms he was able to establish friendships with people like Josef Hoffmann. He went to Moscow and made exhibitions and in 1902, his room at Turin International Exhibition earned him great reputation and made him rise to the status of a leader in the modern movement. (Fiell, Charlotte and Peter 1995).

The relationship he had with his friends led to tension and in 1913 he had to move to Walberswick, Suffolk. This was a very significant point in his life such that he was able to come up with his finest pencil and watercolor arts. He also moved to Chelsea in 1915 and at this point he was able to supplement his income with designs in textile patterns. This can also be said to have had contribution towards his career in design.

The economic climate during this time was not good and it so him produce over 120 different patterns that were based on both flowers and natural forms and this was important because they were more abstract and they looked forward to Art Deco. While in this economic hardships he got an opportunity to redesign a home for engineer W.J.Basset-Lowke, at 78 Derngate, Northampton. This gave him great experience and even earned him more reputation. This was achieved through the pieces of art such as the paintings that he managed to work on during those economic hardships. (Davidson, Fiona 1998)

Their movement to Port Vendres in the South of France due to financial problems is also worth mentioning. This is because the environment proved to be very conducive for creating water color paintings. His educational life was quite simple. He used to attend the Glasgow school of art where he had evening classes.

In his early life he suffered from eye problems and this made him discover his talent in design as he could make sketches of the Scottish countryside. While at Glasgow School of Art he was able to learn some disciplines through the formal education. Subjects like Mathematics, Geometry, Building and construction. This gave him a good foundation in education but did not allow him to nurture the talent he had in design and architecture. Glasgow School of Art can therefore be said to be one of the schools that contributed towards the development of career in this architect.

He had a mastery of the skills that were required in the field of design and architecture. This was evident when he won some of the greatest awards both locally and internationally. His drawings could be found in professional press publications and there was a clear demonstration of virtue and skillful work. His traveling to places such as Italy, Scotland and England contributed towards the development of architectural skills.

This was especially by the fact that sketching was significant towards the development of architecture. As he went around he made sketches of historic architectural designs. Field trip exercises were fundamental in nurturing the expressive and artistic talents in Mackintosh. Though he did not pass through many educational institutions, Mackintosh had a talent in architecture and design and this is fundamentally what made him archive that kind of reputation in the society. (Fiell, Charlotte and Peter 1995).

In conclusion it is essential to emphasize that the great works done by Charles Rennie Mackintosh were not necessarily as a result of his education but rather they were as a result of his innate characteristics that motivated him into the arts, design and architecture.

References

Walsh Brothers, Charles Rennie Mackintosh – artist designer architect. Web.

John McKean Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Architect, Artist, Icon (Lomond) illustrated by Colin Baxte.

Davidson, Fiona (1998). The Pitkin Guide: Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Great Britain: Pitkin Unichrome.

Fiell, Charlotte and Peter (1995). Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Taschen. Web.

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