A Christmas message from the President
There is an expression which states, “if you want something done, give it to a busy man.”
I certainly fill the criteria for the “busy man” part of the saying as I always seem to be working towards one solo exhibition or another, and any leisure time quickly fills up with golf and travel. So taking on the Presidency of Glasgow Art Club was never going to be easy. Having said all that, it was such an honour and a privilege to hold this illustrious office that I jumped at the opportunity.
It is hard to believe that almost three years have passed since I took over the Office from Raymond Williamson, and a tricky three years they have been. You will recall that we were just entering the structural phase of our refurbishment programme, and major puzzles had to be solved regarding storing and repairing of gallery furniture. Fundraising for new furniture began, and a general battening down of the hatches commenced before the big gallery closed its doors for 18 months.
During this time my Council worked closely with the members of the Property Company who had the daunting task of seeing the huge project through to a successful conclusion.
My enduring memory of the last three years has been how well the Club has continued to flourish despite many inconveniences. The bar area became a little Bistro and our Billiard Room Gallery served our members well, catering for numerous exhibitions and functions.
I never heard anyone complain about the reduced size of the place, and it all seemed to be accepted with mutual good natured optimism. I would also like to add a word of thanks to our amazing members of Staff who kept up a high level of efficiency throughout the project. What pleased me even more was the steady flow of new members who joined us over this period.
Now apart from a few finishing and decorating jobs to complete by the end of January 2015, those difficult days are firmly behind us, and we can enjoy our refurbished and redecorated Club premises. Celebration Dinners and Exhibitions are in full flow and Christmas festivities can be enjoyed within our warm and friendly Club.
I will be stepping down as President at the Annual Business Meeting in February and would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support and friendship during my period in office.
Have a Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year.
Glasgow Art Club
This November the magnificent Glasgow Art Club Gallery, once described by the late art historian Sir Kenneth Clark as, "one of the most perfect small galleries in Europe" will throw open its doors to the public following an extensive programme of refurbishment and restoration.
Closed since May of last year, the Gallery will be opened by Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden on the 22nd of November 2014. The Gallery has undergone a major £1.2 million transformation in partnership with Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland, and will be proudly showcased by key stakeholders at the launch event.
Of particular interest come the reopening in November will be the restoration of a hidden Charles Rennie Mackintosh frieze, discovered by Dr James Macaulay, retired head of architectural history at the Mackintosh School of Architecture. Painted in 1893, the stencilled artwork was Mackintosh's first major public work and the centrepiece of the club's gallery but due to its position under the eaves, where it sustained water damage, it was eventually plastered and painted over. The Club is resplendent with historically significant interior features including fireplaces, grilles and door fittings – all designed by a 25-year-old Charles Rennie Mackintosh whom was working as an apprentice to John Keppie at the time. This replication is a main feature of the project and one of national significance and importance. To coincide with the reopening, Glasgow Art Club will mount a major exhibition featuring the work of Glasgow Art Club members, past and present. Works on display will range from those by William Denniston, EA Hornel, John Cunningham, John Lavery, Norman Kirkham, David Donaldson, Barbara Rae, George Henry, Harry Benson, Ken Howard, Robert Kelsey, Frank To, Joe Hargan, Hazel Nagl and Bet Low amongst many, many more.
“Visitors to the exhibition will be able to enjoy a rich thread of artistic excellence that transcends several decades of Contemporary Scottish Art, including the works of our younger, currently emerging artist members. Glasgow Art Club has a long and noble heritage and we should be proud that it continues to flourish, and provide an environment where our artist members display all the skills of those who have gone before them.” Robert Kelsey, Glasgow Art Club President.
Glasgow Art Club would like to acknowledge the support of our lead exhibition sponsors Tilney Bestinvest. Paul Frame, Managing Director and Head of Tilney Bestinvest, Glasgow said: “The Glasgow Art Club is one of the city’s iconic institutions and we are delighted to show the Club and its members our continued support. The damaged Mackintosh building and works of the Art School have found their place in many hearts this year and it is therefore great to be part of a good news story in the city. The completion of the refurbishment of the Art Club, in particular the main gallery and the reproduction of the Mackintosh frieze is something really worth celebrating. We look forward to seeing the gallery, the Mackintosh frieze and the works of Glasgow Art Club members showcased in all their glory now the renewal project is complete.”
On Friday 30th June 2014 Glasgow Art Club was honoured to host the Rt Hon Lord Provost, Sadie Docherty who was joined by Glasgow’s second citizen, Lord Dean of Guild, Raymond Williamson and Deacon Convener, Hamish C Brodie. The Lord Provost, with the assistance of Glasgow Art Club President, Robert Kelsey and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Paul Dowds, placed a time capsule under the floor of the magnificent Art Club Gallery, once described by the late art historian Sir Kenneth Clark as, "one of the most perfect small galleries in Europe."
This landmark and historic occasion presented a unique and meaningful opportunity to celebrate the past, present and future of Glasgow Art Club.
The capsule is to be unearthed 29 years from now (2043), to mark the 150th anniversary of our occupation of 185 Bath Street.
View the photographs of this event in the photo gallery - All photographs courtesy of Laura McAllister
The Gallery at the Art Club is temporarily closed to allow for much needed refurbishment and restoration works.
Refurbishment of the Gallery is scheduled for completion by October 2014, and the main contract by the end of December of that year. All other principal rooms of the Club are currently still in use by the members.
The building contract was awarded to W. H. Kirkwood Ltd. of Greenock. W. H. Kirkwood have successfully completed several historic building projects. The Design Team is led by MAST Architects.
The replication of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh frieze in the Gallery is a main feature of the project, and of national importance. The contract for this work has been awarded to Nevin of Edinburgh who recently restored the ceiling decorative scheme at Stirling Castle. The design for the work, based on CRM’s sketches, is being undertaken by Chris Allan, formerly Deputy Director of the Hunterian Art Gallery, and has been assessed by a panel comprising Roger Bilcliffe, Professor Pamela Robertson of Glasgow University, and one of our members, Dr. James Macaulay.
There will inevitably be some degree of inconvenience to members during the progress of this essential work, but the Trustees are confident that once completed the building will be there to be enjoyed by both members and visitors for many years to come.