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Glasgow School of Art

I was devastated to hear today of the fire at Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘s masterpiece building, the Glasgow School of Art. (For pictures of the undamaged building see here.)

I have featured another of his buildings, Scotland Street School, here.

I have also visited the House for an Art Lover, built to Mackintosh designs in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park (on part of the site of the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938,) and Hill House in Helensburgh as well as the Mackintosh House at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow but all without benefit a modern camera. All are visually stunning.

I must confess to being a teeny bit annoyed when Lorna Gordon, BBC London’s Scotland correspondent, called the Art School an Art Deco building. None of Mackintosh’s buildings are Deco. They are leaning towards it, certainly, but really have more in common with Art Nouveau. At a pinch you could say they act as a bridge between the two styles. While some Mackintosh designs have the blend of horizontal and vertical that is a signifier of Art Deco he also had a strong liking for curves which grew firmly from the Art Nouveau tradition of evoking nature and natural forms.

I assume the plans for the School of Art are still in existence somewhere – and that there is insurance in place. Even if it is costly it is to be hoped that some sort of effort at restoration can be made to the Art School. The result may not be original but so few of Mackintosh’s designs were erected in his lifetime it would be tantamount to a crime to allow to disappear the outstanding example that was.

In the meantime, not just Glasgow, not only Scotland, but the world, is a poorer place to live in tonight.

Modern Glasgow at Night

Most of the buildings I featured in the two previous Modern Glasgow posts are lit up with coloured lights at night.

This is BBC Scotland from the North bank of the Clyde.

And its entrance on Pacific Quay.

Here’s Glasgow Science Centre (at dusk.)

The Hydro manages to look like a spaceship.

Modern Glasgow 2

The first is engineering rather than architecture. The Clyde Arc – immediately dubbed by local wags the Squinty Bridge as it crosses the River Clyde on a diagonal. Also in the photo is the Finnieston crane – all that remains of the shipyards that once lined the River Clyde here.

Right next to the Glasgow Science Centre (see previous posts) on the south bank of the Clyde is the new BBC Scotland building. It looks externally like a giant shoe box. Internally it’s more interesting as anyone who’s seen television interviews given inside will know.

The entrance is on the west side and is adorned with BBC Alba as well as BBC Scotland. There is a largeish scuptural thingy here too on the right of the photo. (Squinty Bridge in background on left.)

This is how the BBC building looks from the north bank of the Clyde.

Just a touch along the south bank towards the Squinty Bridge lies the premises of STV (Scottish Television) part of the Independent Television network, ITV. This shows the STV logo at the access road (and the Finnieston Crane.)

This is a closer view of the STV building. Another shoe box, though smaller than the BBC Scotland one. The round building to the right was I believe once an entrance to a pedestrian tunnel under the Clyde. (There is a similar rotunda building where it debouched on the north bank which now houses four restaurants.)

Reelin’ In the Years 78: El Doomo

I remember hearing this on the radio in the 1970s and thinking it was very different indeed from the stuff Ellis produced when he was with Love Affair, but I don’t think I ever caught its title. I’m not even sure I realised at the time that Ellis was a band name. I recognised it straight away when listening to last Sunday’s Sounds of the Seventies on the iPlayer.

This is about as far from Bringing on Back the Good Times as you can get.

Ellis: El Doomo

Scottish Avenue, Empire Exhibition 1938

Another Brian Gerald drawn art postcard from the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938. This time of the Scottish Avenue. It shows both Scottish Pavilions (the ones with the towers) and the BBC Pavilion in the foreground. At the other end of the avenue is the Palace of Arts, the only building from the Exhibition still standing in Bellahouston Park.

Just Like Buses

Today is another anniversary. Again just about inescapable if you’ve been near any BBC outlet the past week or so.

You wait 50 years for an anniversary and then two come along at once….

On 23rd November 1963 a strange, spooky TV programme with a first episode entitled An Unearthly Child appeared on BBC 1.

The programme was of course Doctor Who.

On Thu, 21/11/13, BBC 2 showed a good drama about its genesis, An Adventure in Space and Time. It’s on the iPlayer here.

The BBC has got a bit of a cheek calling it the longest running TV programme, though, considering they axed it for years after Sylvester McCoy’s run finished – apart from the Paul McGann one-off.

For any nostalgia freaks here are all the different title sequences.

BBC Bias

I see Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has been sniping at the BBC.

Well, sniping isn’t quite the word. Threatening would be nearer the mark.

If you recall before the last General Election I predicted this sort of thing would happen if the Tories were to win office. The only surprise is it’s taken this long for them to get round to it. Too busy demonising the unemployed and telling lies about the mess they inherited (the UK economy was growing in May 2010 when they took over. They immediately set that into spectacular reverse.)

In any case what have they to complain about? I rarely hear much criticism of the government or its policies on the BBC news. It might not be 100% suppportive. But it’s not supposed to be.

I read over the weekend that during the last government Gordon Brown was seen on the BBC twice as much as David Cameron – aka Mr Irresponsible. At the moment it’s four appearances for Cameron against every one for Ed Miliband. As I remember a similar ratio applied during John Major’s time as PM. (Now there’s the return of the undead.)

Whenever there’s a Tory government the letters BBC might as well stand for Bend over Backwards to the Conservatives.

Joining the Wildest Side

Lou Reed has died.

Member of The Velvet Underground (of whom it was said that not many people bought their records but everyone who did rushed out immediately and formed a band) and inspirer of David Bowie plus countless others.

He became well-known in the UK due to the song Walk on the Wild Side becoming a hit. Much, much later Perfect Day was turned into a magnificent BBC promo video.

I suspect everyone will be posting one or other of the above two tracks so here’s another of his better known songs.

Lou Reed: Satellite of Love

Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed:- 2/3/1942 – 7/10/2013. So it goes.

Grangemouth

One of the mysteries – to me at any rate – of the dispute between management and workers at Grangemouth petrochemical complex is that the company that owns it, INEOS, says it is losing £10 million a month there.

The workers are faced with signing up to significantly reduced terms and conditions or the prospect of redundancy.

But…… Losing £10 million a month running an oil complex? One, moreover, that is capable of supplying all the petrol stations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of the North of England?

What sort of mismanagement led to this situation? How can anyone in this day and age not make money from owning an oil refinery and its associated petrochemical works?

On Reporting Scotland tonight a glimmer of an answer appeared.

It seems INEOS has been expanding rapidly. We were told – in passing – its owner Jim Ratcliffe has incurred debt in doing so even though otherwise he appears to be doing all right.

Reading between the lines it seems he wants to make the workers at Grangemouth pay for it.

The most disturbing thing about this whole rigmarole is that little mention has been made of this aspect up to now. Politicians and the media have been shying clear of criticism of the company’s conduct. Serious questions ought to be asked of the company and politicians – UK wide. I doubt the Scottish Government has much real clout in a situation like this. I’m not holding my breath for the UK coalition to do anything about it though.

But still.

Is Jim Ratcliffe a fit and proper person to be in charge of any commercial enterprise? Have the losses been built up deliberately to engineer a diminution of workers’ conditions and pay?

How on Earth was such a chancer allowed to get anywhere near control of Scotland’s largest industrial asset?

The whole thing stinks.

Poppy Watch 2013

First spotting of the season, BBC Scotland News on Friday 18/10/13. Just shy of one week less than a month before Armistice Day.

At the SNP Conference, Alex Salmond addressing the devotees – complete with poppy.

The next news item featured a farmer or something (he was in the great outdoors, whatever) who sported a poppy in his lapel. I wonder if the BBC supplied it to him.

Curiously the presenters in the studio were sans poppies. Give it time.

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