Glasgow School of Art

Ash to Art

In May 2014, fire ravaged one of the most important buildings in 20th century architecture, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art.

Seeing beyond the devastation, J. Walter Thompson London worked with the School on a pro bono basis, sending 25 world-famous artists a piece of charcoal salvaged from the Mackintosh Building fire. The idea was for them to use the charcoal to create new works of art. These would then be auctioned to raise funds and publicity for the rebuilding of the school – thereby creating a new building from the remains of the old.

Artists chosen include Grayson Perry, Sir Antony Gormley, Sir Peter Blake, Anish Kapoor, Jenny Saville, David Shrigley and 19 others, including seven Turner Prize winners. This carefully curated group come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, and have created a distinctive body of work, reflecting the international importance and influence of the Mackintosh Building. Other leading artists participating in the project include: Paula Rego, Douglas Gordon, Tacita Dean, Rachel Whiteread, Conrad Shawcross, Cornelia Parker, and The Chapman Brothers.

The artwork will be displayed at Christie’s, King Street, London, in a special exhibition between 3rd and 7th March 2017. It will then be auctioned during the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale on 8th March 2017. The proceeds will be donated to The Mackintosh Campus Appeal.

Bill Hartley and Giles Hepworth, Creatives at J. Walter Thompson London, said: “It seemed appropriate to use a by-product of the School's fire as the tool of its rebirth. By putting debris from the fire into the hands of artists, it places the future of the School firmly in the hands of the UK’s creative community.”

Grayson Perry, said: “It’s a tragedy. It’s the most famous art school building in Britain. It’s also the masterpiece of Mackintosh - it’s a double tragedy. I really like the idea of using the charcoal from the fire. I thought it was very clever. It’s also fresh – it’s not something that has come up before. We’ve all been asked to doodle on t-shirts, knickers, mugs and helmets – endless charity rounds. I get about two a week. I had an idea almost immediately and the idea of making an urn was an obviously thing to do. The idea of memorialising or celebrating the difficulty - honoring the wound. It’s something I’m trying to do. Move on and make the most of it.”

Professor Tom Inns, Director of the GSA, said: “The Mackintosh Campus Project will enable The Glasgow School of Art to restore and upgrade the Mackintosh Building as a home for all first year students whilst also creating state of the art studio space for the School of Fine Art and workshop facilities for the GSA in the converted Stow Building. The project symbolises our commitment to our heritage and our confidence in the future. It has been a pleasure to work with the creative team at J. Walter Thompson London over the last two years on this imaginative initiative that will help in our efforts to raise the £32m required to make our vision a reality.”

The full list of artists:

Alison Watt

Anish Kapoor

Antony Gormley

Conrad Shawcross

Chantal Joffe

Cornelia Parker

David Shrigley

Douglas Gordon

Grayson Perry

Idris Khan

Ishbel Myerscough

Jenny Saville

Jim Lambie

Joseph Kosuth

Julie Mehretu

Martin Boyce

Miroslaw Balka

Nathan Coley

Paula Rego

Peter Blake

Rachel Whiteread

Richard Long

Simon Starling

Tacita Dean

The Chapman Brothers