The iconic Glasgow School of Art is not only a hugely-popular choice amongst the student population, it has also become one of the city’s most fascinating attractions, as one of the UK’s oldest art and design institutions.
Founded in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design, before taking its current name eight years later, it started life on Ingram Street, before switching to the McLellan Galleries in 1869. At the end of the century work started in earnest on a new building on Renfrew Street, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The project took more than a decade to complete, with the final brick laid in 1909.
One hundred years later, an international competition was held to discover an architect-led design team to develop the campus masterplan and design a new building. The winners completed the Reid Building in 2014, and it is positioned adjacent to the Mackintosh Building.
Today’s courses include Fine Art Photography, which was introduced by Thomas Joshua Cooper in 1982, Fashion Design, Silversmithing and Jewellery, Interior Design, Painting and Printmaking, Sculpture and Environmental Art, Product Design, Interaction Design, Communication Design, and Architecture.
Towards the end of 2012, the school started running years three and four of the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Programme in Communication Design & Interior Design in Singapore, having partnered with the Singapore Institute of Technology, at the Temasek Polytechnic campus in Tampines. This enables Diploma students from a Singapore polytechnic to work their way up from a Diploma to a BA (Hons) degree. Students based in Singapore receive the same curriculum, award and equipment as the institution in Scotland.
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Glasgow School of Art is split into four academic schools – Mackintosh School of Architecture, which of course was named in honour of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the School of Design, the School of Fine Art, and the School of Simulation and Visualisation, which was unveiled in 2016 and specialises in virtual and digital technology. Both the School of Design and the School of Fine Art have their own research centres and separate academic programmes.
The school hit the headlines on a global level in 2014 when a devastating fire tore through the original Mackintosh campus, although thankfully there were no casualties. The long process of restoring the building began soon afterwards, with special care taken by those involved with the project to replicate the design originally put in place by Mackintosh.
A large chunk of Scotland’s most celebrated contemporary artists started out at the school, including Turner Prize winners Martin Boyce, Simon Starling, Richard Wright and Duncan Campbell.
Other notable alumni include Peter Capaldi, the Oscar-winning actor and star of The Thick of It and Doctor Who; Robbie Coltrane, as seen in a number of Harry Potter and James Bond films; illustrator Jessie Marion King; artist Christine Borland; and Norman McLaren, the Oscar-winning animation and filmmaker.
The school runs a public schedule of events and exhibitions every year. The Reid Gallery is home to a curated programme that works with staff and students, as well as designers, architects and contemporary artists, and makes connections to the heritage of the school and its collections.