This month, we took part in #MuseumPassion, a social media initiative to get museums talking about the items in their collections that they are particularly fond of. Posts could relate to anything – from every day domestic items to material relating to important current issues such as COVID-19, Climate Change or Black Lives Matter. You can learn more about the initiative here, which was run in partnership between the BBC and the National Museum Directors’ Council.
It’s always tricky to choose our favourites (there are just too many!) but we think the choices we made do a good job of reflecting the many facets of GSA Archives and Collections! Enjoy and don’t forget to email us at archives@gsa.ac.uk if you’d like to know more!

Our textile collection – full of garments, samples, embroideries, soft furnishings, lace work and designs on paper. You could easily lose yourself in this blue dreamcatcher-like embroidery by a student of the highly influential textile artist Kath Whyte, Head of Embroidery and Weaving at GSA between 1948 and 1974. Whyte spent part of her childhood in India, where we believe she developed a lifelong love of colours and textile techniques. Next to this is a Cypriot lace mat, made in Venetian style circa 1920s-1930s. This is part of our Needlework Development Scheme collection, a collection of embroidery examples from all over the world which were once used as educational tools. The next example of Kashmir cypress cones or “Paisley” patterns would have also been used in education at GSA. However, in its past life, this design may have been transferred onto wooden blocks and printed directly onto textile to make Paisley Shawls.

And that red coat…Well, it almost doesn’t need an introduction does it? It is in fact designed to be worn as a coat dress, woven in red wool and printed on top with this abstract purple pattern, complete with purple satin lining – beautiful!

Red coat with printed pattern and purple lining

We also wanted to highlight some of our brand new accessions as part of #MuseumPassion. Few illustrate current times as well as this wonderful collection of posters entitled “Power Tae the Key Workers” by Cobalt Collective. These posters depict the key workers who continue to provide communities with essential services during the pandemic, such as teachers, shop workers, medical professionals and post people. Copies of the were displayed around Glasgow in June, intended as a collective message of thanks to all key workers.

We also couldn’t let #MuseumPassion go past without mentioning our Recognised Mackintosh Collection. We hold around 100 pieces of work by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, including watercolours, furniture and architectural drawings, and images of them are often requested for inclusion in books, exhibitions and for academic study and research purposes. The selection we have included here includes a watercolour called “The Tree of Influence” from just after he graduated from GSA in 1895, as well as another called “Le Fort Mailey” painted in 1927, just a year before he died.

We have also included an example from our furniture collection – this High Backed chair which was designed for 120 Main Street in Glasgow in 1899, along with an example of one of the most popular items that we hold – architectural drawings of the Mackintosh building. Due to funding shortages, the building was completed in two halves, and the majority of the drawings that we hold (including this one) relate to the second phase.

Lastly, we included some images from GSA’s past. In the early 1900s, the School’s then Headmaster Francis Henry Newbery took the initiative to design a new curriculum, incorporating a number of new courses such as ceramics, stained glass and metalwork. These are some photographs and examples of work from around this time. I think we’ll all agree, this is proof that we’ve always been an art school of innovation!