Sunday, 20 September 2015

Stan Laurel, Glasgow Doors Open Day and a little bit of handicrafts

Bet that got your attention but they're all connected! We've just got back from a cheeky weekend over-nighter in Glasgow. We just thought why not? And in a stroke of genius we found out it was also Glasgow Doors Open weekend. For those of you who don't know what the 'Doors Open' events are, they do just exactly what they say and the doors of institutions and interesting places are thrown open to the public to come and have a look. There can be some very surprising places that are runaway successes, I remember the first time Mortonhall Crematorium participated in Doors Open Day and it was very popular.

So, the hitlist this weekend was all in the central Glasgow area and all within easy walking distance of each other, although my leg muscles are aching today because we did so much walking yesterday.

There are lots of photos in this post and I can't say they're the best quality either but I hope you'll enjoy hearing about the places we visited. There's fabric at the end for those who aren't interested in buildings. Here goes....

Glasgow School of Art, the Reid Building Visitors Centre. This is an ultra-modern newly opened in 2014 just before the beloved Mackintosh building went up in flames last year. This modern building faces 'the Mac' (designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh) and surprisingly the two sit very well together. There was a Visitors Centre you could look around and
I really enjoyed this. the displays were well laid out and even though it's a small space we stayed there for a good half hour. You can't get into The Mac as it's half covered in scaffolding for repair works.

There was also this lovely tea cosy displayed in a glass case. Can't imagine how long it took to sew that! I loved the stylised flowers, they seem full of life and movement. In another case was a hand printed skirt sewn during the Second World War. The noted beside it said that art supplies were difficult to get hold of in wartime so artists had to get by as best they could. Not a great photo but you get the idea!

Next on the list was St Vincents Street Church. This is on the World Monuments Watch as being in danger of falling into ruin but the Glasgow Doors Open Day brochure said you would be amazed at the interior. They were right! This was designed by Alexander'Greek'Thomson and it's a corker! It has a very exotic feel to the decoration inside but has been damaged due to water ingress. The building is now water-tight but the water damage hasn't been repaired. It's very interesting seeing a building that's been preserved rather than renovated.

After this, it was The Lighthouse which is now an arts venue but started life as The Glasgow Herald building designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. No photos, you'll be pleased to hear!

The we went to my favourite building of the whole weekend. The Britannia Music Hall (also known as the Britannia Panopticon or the Panopticon). I absolutely loved this! It's not a big venue and it's on the first floor. It's also gloriously shabby inside! There were great exhibits on display and I learnt that Stan Laurel had his stage debut at the Panopticon. Cary Grant also danced on stage in tights in this theatre before he became super-smooth and cool. There were various programmes on display showing you the variety of weird and wonderful acts you could see. No telly!

 Music of the era was playing and there were some costumes on display too. You may be able to see the peeling paint in this photo! The stage has recently been restored as they do performances of the period. A wonderfully atmospheric place and the 1200 people who visited yesterday probably thought so too!

 Today it was the Synagogue. I have been to a synagogue before, the Florence Synagogue so I was interested in seeing how it compared. Florence seemed much older and this one was built in the nineteenth century so there's lots of beautiful stained glass. There were lovely helpers from the congregation who answered our questions and explained lots of things to us about the Jewish faith and how they worship.

We also went downstairs to the Scottish Jewish Archive. As we entered the building C was asked to cover his head and given a cap (sorry I don't know what the correct name is). There were lots of other people visiting and I think opening their doors was a big hit. There were people visiting from other faiths too, some you might not expect would enter a synagogue but it was good to see.

After the synagogue it was the Glasgow Art Club. The entrance doors, fireplaces and ventilation duct covers have recently been proved to have been designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Yes, it's that man again! But he was a world class architect and designer. You can see one of the fireplaces in the photo below. We were able to wander around the floors of this beautiful building.

Our last building was the Glasgow Film Theatre, a lovely Art Deco cinema. We missed the last tour so didn't get to go into a projection room but we went to three auditoriums and the cafe.
So, back home in Auld Reekie now and thinking of the amazing places we've seen. Such a variety of purposes and states of preservation. Have you been to any similar event? Maybe you also went to see some buildings in Glasgow this weekend. If so, which one was your favourite?

The next post will be about trip to Glasgow is compete without a raid on Mandors!


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