Celebrating our first wedding anniversary was always likely to be as low-key as the wedding itself. At home in Scotland, and a 6 hour car journey the next day were considerations that made sure of it.
We headed out to Glasgow, and the House for an Art Lover. A spot of lunch and some artistic inspiration were the order of the day.
House for an Art Lover was was inspired from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1901 competition entry to a German design magazine. Mackintosh’s entry was actually disqualified, and was never realised in his lifetime, but the house was opened to the public in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow in 1996 after an extensive project first begun in the eighties.
Despite a disappointing reception to his work in his own lifetime, Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Scottish architect, designer and artist – has been almost over exposed as an artistic emblem of Scotland in my lifetime. That he felt unappreciated in his hometown and failed to attract work for his brand of holistic architecture is, of course, a travesty. That Mackintosh inspired motifs appear on sofa cushions and coffee cups, earrings and trinkets with regular abandon (the Mackintosh copyright is expired) has turned him and his creations into something of a cliché .
Mackintosh’s talent is now celebrated world-wide, and that is only right – but it is not really the story of his work that relates to this tale of a wedding anniversary….
Only two pieces of Mackintosh work grace our home. The first is a gift I was given many years ago by a dear friend, Mackintosh’s Harvest Moon watercolour – isn’t it beautiful?:
The second is in fact the work of Mackintosh’s wife (Opera of the Seas). Mackintosh married fellow artist Margaret Macdonald in 1900 and perhaps appropriately for a wedding anniversary it is the story of the artistic couple that resonated for us on our visit to the House.
In 1927 Mackintosh wrote to Margaret that she was half, if not three-quarters, of the inspiration for his architectural work.
In fact, Margaret and Charles collaborated on many projects during their time together, which started as part of The Glasgow Four. Margaret specialised in textiles, and this panel designed for and in place at the Music Room in the House for an Art Lover is a super example of their distinctive turn of the century style:
Margaret and Mackintosh stayed together through some trying times, and were eventually compelled to leave the UK when Mackintosh, almost incomprehensibly, failed to attract any commissions for his/their work.
A creative couple who collaborated on work where it’s hard to determine which part belongs to whom. A couple innovating under the constraints of Victorian times. I’m going to research some more. Yes, there is no doubt that Mackintosh was one of the finest artists of his generation, but it is the Mackintoshes as a couple I want to find out more about.
As part of a creative, innovative couple that works together, I’m intrigued.
The lunch? It was great. But paled a little into insignificance when marvelling at the concepts visualised by the Mackintoshes. The ‘cafe’ is a bit more than that, with attentive waiting staff (and plenty of them), table linen and a pretty decent menu. In the basement of the house, it is perhaps a little noisy when full (as it was on Saturday lunchtime) but with a special 2 course menu for less than a tenner a head, it’s no wonder it’s popular. Luckily, we had booked, not really thinking it was necessary, but wouldn’t have got a table otherwise.
Vegetarian options were limited, particularly on the specials menu, but Martin’s spring onion and sweetcorn risotto was fresh and creamy. My trout with mash and spinach was light, fresh and just enough for lunch. If it was dinner, I’d have preferred a little more, to be honest. This wasn’t a big and hearty dish by any means, but tasty and worth repeating, beautifully presented and better than many I’ve paid twice that for in restaurants.
To follow, Martin enjoyed a fine strawberry cheesecake – properly baked with a crunchy, buttery base and my raspberry mousse with chocolate ice cream was just short of perfect (raspberry seeds in the mousse detracted only ever so slightly).
Sparkling water followed by espressos were the order of the day, so I’ve no idea what the wine list was like, but I’ve no reason to doubt that it wouldn’t be as high quality as the rest of the order.
House for an Art Lover is a popular venue for private functions – and the day we visited it was preparing for a wedding. We were leaving just as the wedding party arrived. Their dinner was to be served in the Music Room, and consequently, the room was set up to cater for that. It spoiled the clean vertical lines of the room, but the house was designed for entertaining after all!
See the Flickr set for more photos of the day.
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