Debris of Glasgow School of Art to be used to rebuild

Debris of Glasgow School of Art is going to be turned into artworks to fund rebuilding. Big artists like Grayson Perry and Anish Kapoor create pieces using debris from Mackintosh building gutted by fire in 2014.

It was in May 2014 that the school was gutted by a fire, and as part of an appeal towards resurrecting the historic Mackintosh building, artists were sent the charred remains and asked to craft them into a work of art.

The project is named as “The Ash to Art”, which has seen Perry make a glazed ceramic urn with the words “Art is dead. Long live art” emblazoned on it. Douglas Gordon has created a sculpture in the shape of a cross from the ashes and then cast it in bronze. Anish Kapoor make a red perspex box filled with burnt wood fragments.

Perry said, “It’s a tragedy. It’s the most famous art school building in Britain. It’s also the masterpiece of (Charles Rennie) Mackintosh. It’s a double tragedy. I was very excited when I received the box of charcoal. I had an idea almost immediately and the idea of making an urn was an obvious thing to do. The idea of memorializing or celebrating the difficulty – honouring the wound. It’s something I’m trying to do. Move on and make the most of it.”

There are some more artists supporting the project, which includes Simon Starling, Cornelia Parker, the Chapman brothers and Sir Peter Blake. All of them was sent a specific piece of debris, telling them where it had been collected, and given free rein to make whatever they chose.

Gordon stated he got a small section of wood from the building’s library, he said, “It sat in my studio in Berlin, on my desk, next to a classic 60s ashtray that a friend had given me – the irony.”

He added, “In any case it reminded me of my times in the library, where one either craned one’s neck in order to look up very high, or bent one’s head in order to read a book. It has a kind of traditional, religious or at least a devotional gesture to it. And when I looked at the pieces of wood, I moved them slightly and realised that it was, indeed, a cross.”

“Regarding the material and the process, I wanted to use extreme heat in order to make something that would not burn, therefore, the bronze,” he said.

Initially commissioned by the branding agency J Walter Thompson, all the works is supposed to be auctioned by Christie’s in March to help raise the £13.5m needed to fully rebuild the Mackintosh-designed building. Reopening of the restored building is scheduled in spring 2019.