CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH

Post 700 –by Gautam Shah

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01 Chairs By Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a Scottish architect, designer, textile designer, product designer, graphics artist and water-colourist. He lived most of his life in the city of Glasgow. At young age he was afflicted with rheumatic fever, this resulted in a droop on one side of his face. Because of these disabilities, young Charles was encouraged to spend time in the countryside. And love for the countryside and flora was to enliven creativity through his life.

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Mackintosh was a reclusive child who had difficulties in understanding the emotions of others. He used his sketchbooks as a way to withdraw from the world, manage his own outbursts of rage. Mackintosh in his later years became an avid painter of flowers. Macintosh art work of nature in pencil and watercolour was exquisite and botanically accurate. Later in life, disillusioned with several un-built architectural designs, Mackintosh devoted himself as a watercolour artist. With Margaret, his wife, they painted many landscapes and flower studies.

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1 b Fetges CR Macintosh 1927

1 c weathercade Charles Rennie Mackintosh Willow Wood

‘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… you must offer real, living – beautifully coloured flowers – flowers that grow from, but above, the green leaf – flowers that are not dead – are not dying – not artificial – real flowers springing from your own soul – not even cut flowers – You must offer the flowers of the art that is in you – the symbols of all that is noble – and beautiful – and inspiring – flowers that will often change a colourless leaf – into an established and thoughtful thing’.

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie, 1868-1928; Wall Panel for the Dug-Out (Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow)

3 Margaret MacDonald Mrs Mackintosh Opera Of The Seas 1903

Mackintosh joined Glasgow School of Art at fifteen and a year started working as a trainee draftsman with John Hutchinson. After that apprenticeship in 1889, he joined Honeyman and Keppie. In 1890 he won £60, as the coveted ‘Alexander Thomson Traveling Studentship for Public Design. He decided to go to Italy and Europe. This changed his life with varied design related experiences. It was here that Charles Rennie Mackintosh met fellow artist and future wife, Margaret MacDonald, who influenced his life intensely. Macintosh, wife Margaret, sister-in-law Frances and her husband Herbert Mac Nair, were known as the The Four or the Spook School’, and the Glasgow Style. They influenced the Glasgow art scene and European design movements such as Art Nouveau and Secessionism profoundly. The Four exhibited widely in Europe, both together and individually, and Mackintosh received commissions for furniture from patrons in Berlin, Vienna, and elsewhere in Europe’.

4 a Galagow School of ART

4 Mackintosh School of Art

Architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh is a contrast between strong right angles and floral-inspired decorative motifs with subtle curves’. The Glasgow School of Art project, considered to be the first Art Nouveau style building, gave him international reputation. It was constructed in two stages separated by nearly half a decade, allowed lots of improvisation during the second execution. During the period he completed a curious project, the Queen’s Cross Church. It is now restored and houses the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society headquarters.

House for an art lover Glasgow)(3811523958)

Macintosh created a new design paradigm from the natural forms of plants and flowers in an age when most of the modernist designers were trying to rediscover Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other ancient expressions. ‘We must clothe modern ideas with modern dress’. A friend said, ‘the creations of Mackintosh breathe. The interior and exterior spaces designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh sing of serenity, spirituality, and of rigorous attention to detail’. He had a knack of making hard surfaces and tough forms, soft and elegant. His was meticulous, delicate and extremely restrained. The husband-wife partnership created a unified expression. From around 1904, Mackintosh began to adopt more formal, angular geometry, gradually doing away the cursive form of Art Nouveau.

17 a Ruchill Church Mackintosh

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Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s only other ecclesiastical work was the Ruchill Free Church Halls which were completed in 1899. Significantly, the Free Church did not ask Mackintosh to design the adjacent church building.

‘The architect must become an art worker… the art worker must become an architect… the draughtsman of the future must be an artist…’ Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

50 Queens Church Mackintosh

Church buildings by Mackintosh > Mackintosh designed two religious buildings in Glasgow. Queen’s Cross Church is a former Church of Scotland in Glasgow. The site was on a corner location, with adjoining tenements and a warehouse. The Building started shortly after Mackintosh finished his competition design for the Glasgow School of Art. The design has Gothic features. The window features a blue heart. After being decommissioned in 1970, it serves as headquarters of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. The adjoining church hall provides tearoom facilities with a display many Mackintosh artifacts including replicas of the chairs he designed for the Willow Tearooms.

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Mackintosh works had subtle Scottish flavour, but he consciously adopted freshness that marked his modernism. He was concerned for functional, practical and simplistic features. He never used heavy ornamentation of past styles. Much of his work includes contribution by his wife, Margaret MacDonald whose flowing, floral style complemented the formal, rectilinear architectural work. Unfortunately his work was appreciated only long after his death.

31 Bedroom furniture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh Wikipedia Image by Karora

By 1914 Mackintosh lost hope of ever receiving the recognition that he truly deserved. He became stubborn and uncompromising. His career and health both were low. After the stay in Walberswick, conditions began to improve. This was just before the war (WW-I), but he was called a German spy and for a while put under house arrest. He moved to London, in the early 1920s, to reignite his carrier. Here Macintosh began to concentrate on water colour art. Later they moved to France in 1923-27, where he painted scenes of the French coastline. He painted Port Vendres, near the Spanish border and the landscapes of Roussillon. He sought to capture the harmonious coexistence relationships between man-made and natural elements through architectural landscapes in watercolour paintings.

20 Hill House by Mackintosh

Macintosh was a meticulous person, and his working drawings included exhaustive details for architecture, decoration, and furnishings. His wife, Margaret MacDonald immensely contributed to this documentation. These drawings have helped restore many of the projects with original details. All his major architectural commissions like homes, commercial buildings, interior renovations and churches were between 1895 and 1906. Many of his projects, however, remained on paper.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Kelvingrove Glasgow) (3838792257)

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CHAIRS -1 Floor Seating

Post 699 –by Gautam Shah

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This is the FIRST of series, to form 5-6 articles on CHAIRS, (Furniture through Ages).

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The word Chair derives from the seat for the Bishop to read sermons. From Greek Kathedra καθέδρα (κατά-katá=down + ἕδρα-hédra=seat), to Latin Cathedra, Old French Chaiere-Chaire, Chaise to Chair, it has come to mean both, a sitting entity and a place to worship (the Cathedral). Chairs were few, and meant an office or authority (1300 C), or seat for a person presiding at meeting (1640s).

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Villages in the central mountain areas of Palestine, serving as the seat of political and military power were called Kursy. An Arabic name meaning: seat or chair. This name may have come from Kursa meaning a seat in Hebrew (based on an Aramaic word). Kursi refers to a chair, in Persian and many Indian languages. Kursi refers to the ultimate knowledge of Allah. As the word Kursi in Arabic refers also to (knowledge and scholar).

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Chairs are associated for commanding positions. The presiding person must not only express formality but remain consistent, and chairs just allowed that. Formal postures, though have been gained even without the aid of any device, by sitting on raised platforms or ground. The commanding position is more due to the authority invested with a person through assignment, resources or physical power. The posture for such a sitting position essentially arrests the frivolous movements of the body. The first blocks, stools or chairs were single person facilities and stiff elements.

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13 Scheherazade and the sultan by the Iranian painter Sani ol molk (1849-1856)

Commandeering sitting postures are upright, with straight back and legs. The hands are rested in the lap or on the armrests. Seating aids have been used to rest a limb, part of a body or of the whole body. The Postures with or without a seat, backrest, and other seating aids, however, have no bearing on the climate of the place. Postures have possibly untraceable lineage, but have cultural-religious bearing. Leaders and preachers use squatting, kneeling and crossed leg positions, and so have everyone. These positions use variety of aids to enter, continue or get out of the position. The aids include, hanging ropes and chains, taller armrests, footrests, seats, armpit stands and steps.

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The dress and the posture for seating have a curious relationship, but the dependencies are mysterious. To be on the floor to sit, one needs a loose dress, at least in the lower section of the body. The dress must be gracefully accommodated within the seat-zone. Preachers, to impress a gathering need to reinforce the spoken words with gestures. With floor seating the postural manipulation is limited. Head and hands are the chief tools for gesturing. To impress the back side (far-off) audiences gestures are enlarged, like the head is crowned with turbans, and hands covered in large sleeves.

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Sitting close to the floor as a leader or preacher implies being more in level with the audience, unless the seat is over a raised platform. Sitting at the edge of a raised platform or with some fore space, the nature sitting posture has far-reaching consequences. A person sitting on floor mats, is likely to adopt an manners that requires removing footwear before using the stage.

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Floor-seating cultures also develop other items of furniture for access at low level, like chests over almirah. Till Britishers began to command the upper class society, dining at floor level was common. In cities like Mumbai, many houses began to have two sets of dining facilities. The floor seating, rather sanctimonious, was part of the kitchen or close to it. Guests of other communities were never served food here. The Table-chair dining was part of the drawing room and reserved for ‘special guests’.

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Floor level seating units with or without hand and back support allows some freedom for fidgeting (freedom to shift the body in micro postural adjustments). The fidgeting relates to upper section of the body. The most common ways of sitting on the floor are bending the knees inward or backward. Indian and Mughal kings’ Durbar, and in mosques the formal courts of congregation, the normal etiquette for everyone was to keep the feet tucked under the knees or thighs, and not show them up. The nobles sat on rugs, whereas Kings sat on a raised and stepped Simhasan or throne, but using the same posture.

Knees tied for Sitting posture

One can also keep legs partly folded but standing (beach sitting), with or without support for the back. Legs are stretched flat, as parallel or by crossing them over each other. The floor seats allow several other leg positions, typically South Asian or Buddhist (legs bent backward, and foot palms bent or upright), Namazi Muslim (legs bent backward but projecting on one side), Jain prayer posture left leg bent backward and right leg bent vertical upward) Cross legged with knees and back encircled by a band like a Saurashtra Gujarat, Charan story teller or Lord Ayappa of South India. Feet tucked under the knees or thighs is known as tailor style. Similarly sitting with touching two feet-palms is called Indian Cobbler work position. The Japanese formal sitting positions are seiza and kiza.

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Sitting is supported by buttocks, legs and feet and reinforced by spine. By remaining in un-moving position continuously and monotonously for long hoursreduces the efficiency and increases chances of making mistakes’. Sitting, for a long period in a back bent down position stretches the spine. Such postures need frequent stress relief. Many do ‘stretch their back, while being in their seat. But, if task-work platform is low, deep or non-existent, the freedom to ‘stretch the back‘ may not be used. Another stress relief can be attempted by raising the knees (in seating position) off the ground. But, in formal gatherings, for a preacher or speaker such movements convey insincerity. For floor level seats the movement to standing up and sitting down are more stressful than continuing the sitting.

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FLOORING COLOURS through AGES

Post 698 –by Gautam Shah

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Stone-Paved Street at Dougga

For built environment Flooring Colour, is the most important element of experience. It primarily determines the level of brightness in a room, but has many other subtle affectations.

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The experience of colour, relates to both, Visual and Tactile aspects. The visual component consists of colour, texture and patterns. The tactile component has two relates, the actual feel and the visual recognition.

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The Colours of the Floorings emerge from> the extent, gradient and contours (steps, edges, drops, slopes) of the flooring, angle and tinge (stained or grisaille glass) of illumination and texture (gloss-dull), the expanse and colour of the joints.

Colour and black-and-white

The Patterns in the Floorings derive from> set motifs (images, patterns), recognizable geometry, grain-veins in the floor materials and the composition of joints.

Dark coloured floors cut off bottom-up reflection of radiation, and so are ideal in open-to-sky spaces like Chowks, on window sills, and spaces in front of doors, verandahs. Dark floors, however absorb more radiant heat due to the low reflectivity and get very warm. Dark floors are not preferred in walkways, balconies or on terraces (in tropical climates). A dark floor in water pool heightens the feeling of depth, but can increase the rate of water evaporation due to greater absorption of heat radiation. Very dark and shiny floors show off dust and require frequent cleaning. Dark coloured sills increase the radiant heat inside the rooms. Dark sills in cellars (low illumination areas) reduce the level of reflected component of natural light.

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Light-coloured floors substantially reduce the heat absorption, provided these are maintained clean. Light-coloured floors provide lightness and enhance the space size. White floors have a natural association with aseptic conditions, so are preferred in food preparation zones, health facilities and in sanctimonious areas (temples).

Akshardham Temple New Delhi India

Coloured floors are used for livening up monotonous or drab spaces (very large halls like departmental stores, plazas, courtyards). Coloured floors are used in industrial plants, schools, hospitals etc. to indicate routes and movement areas for goods, vehicles and people.

Salle des Hôtes - Mont St Michel

Historically Flooring colour has been monochrome where good building stones were available. Earliest colouring elements were the mosaics of marble, ceramic and glass. Flooring colours have been exploited in sparsely occupied sections of the building such as corridors, passages, plazas, etc.

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West Asiatic architecture had monochrome flooring of building stone and in some cases of terracotta units. Greeks used only white marbles, but used mosaics to create images on the floors.

Romans began to use colourful marbles as inlay pieces to create borders and central patterns. Thermaes (bathhouses) were perhaps the most garish of all places in terms of flooring colour schemes.

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Byzantine period saw reuse of Roman marble debris. Cut pieces of coloured marbles of Roman columns were used for flooring bands. Contrast and pattern definition was their only intention, rather than a balanced colour scheme.

In Gothic architecture, the colour through the stained glass window was so strong that flooring colour was almost subordinated. The quality of laying and finishing were very refined. Granites were used sparingly, only as part of patterns. Wherever high colour effect was, required floors were covered with carpets, rugs and floor spreads.

English mediaeval period saw the use alternatively placed light and dark shades (black-white) of flooring materials to form diagonal checker board flooring.

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Post Gothic period windows’ glass became light hued, interiors were much more illuminated, interior elements were painted and often gilded. These required a highly polished (glossy- dazzling surface) and a balanced colour scheme.

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Renaissance saw painters and sculptors becoming builders and architects, who were very adapt in use of colour. Marbles were selected in terms of the interior colour scheme. Veins or grain patterns of Marbles and other stones were exploited by selection of the cut section, and their orientation to accentuate the patterns.

Versailles Flooring of Mixed stone colours but well planned pattern

French Versailles had marble and stone floors, but required on one hand frequent scrubbing and polishing and replacement due to the moisture from under-floors. Wood was preferred as a floor finish. Wood was a local flooring material for many years. 15th C onward Europe had supplies of exotic woods of Asiatic origin, later from African and American locations (North and Latin). Rare woods, were appreciated for their wonderful colours, grains and hardness but used conservatively. The woods were veneered thin sections and backed with boards of low-cost local woods, to form a surfacing material.

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