Did you see our #CastFromThePast social media campaign?! If not let us fill you in…

The premise of this project was to share stories about favourite Plaster Casts from the GSA collection and the memories that these evoke. We were so grateful for the responses from GSA staff and students who took part, each of the eleven stories delightfully unique!

We therefore wanted to share them all with you in a dedicated #CastFromThePast blog post. First though, a little background history on our Plaster Cast collection…

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Archives and Collections holds a collection of plaster casts comprising human figures, architectural fragments, plaster friezes, plaster reliefs, marble reliefs, tondos and busts. Casts were used as an important teaching aid by the School, from the late 19th century onwards. The casts are generally based on classical statuary and were originally sourced from Greek, Roman and later Italian and medieval periods. Whilst not totally unique (most art schools in the UK and across Europe owned their own collections, purchased from established suppliers in London, Paris etc.), their continued existence within an art school setting gives them an added significance. Importantly, the Glasgow School of Art’s photographic archive contains many period images of how these casts have been used by staff and students since they were first introduced. GSA’s institutional archive also contains catalogues from the early period of the School detailing casts bought, how much they cost, who they were made by and much more.

The majority of GSA’s plaster cast collection was located in the School’s Mackintosh Building at the time of a fire in the building on 23rd May 2014. As a result, these items suffered damage of varying degrees and were surveyed by a conservator. Six casts were lost in 2014 and eleven larger casts underwent remedial conservation in 2016-17. Unfortunately, the Mackintosh Building suffered a second major fire on 15 June 2018 and a number of large casts located in the building are now presumed lost. Cleaning and re-display of the surviving cast collection (c.200 items) is now almost complete and many of the casts are now on display in other buildings around the GSA campus.

#CastFromThePast Videos