Macbeth, Ann

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Macbeth, Ann

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Ann Macbeth was born in Bolton in 1875, as the eldest of nine children of a Scottish Engineer.[1] She was at the Glasgow School of Art in the capacity of a student from 1897-1909. We know from the student records that are held within the school that her father’s occupation was that of engineer.[2] Her addresses are also listed: she came to Glasgow from St. Anne’s on the Sea, Lancashire, and in Glasgow she lived from 1897-98 at 9 Park Quadrant, 1898-99 as 15, Windsor Circus, Kelvinside, from 1899 as 6 Melrose Street, and from 1905 as Queen Margaret Hall.

Before 1902 her occupation is given in the student registers as either “Art Student” or “Designer”. From the session 1902-3 her occupation is listed as that of “Teacher”, but she still appears in the student registers because she continued to advance her formal education through the attendance of classes at the school.[3] For example, we know from the registers that in 1904-5 she was a day student in the upper course, design, and she took further courses in design up until 1909.[4] In 1902 she was appointed to the position of Assistant Mistress, teaching courses in needlework, embroidery and applique, in the Design and Decorative Art Section.

She continued to teach in the Glasgow School of Art until her retirement in 1929, gaining extra responsibilities until she left. In 1903-5 she taught Design and Instruction, from 1906 taught Metalwork and Repousse, and Bookbinding and Decoration from 1907. In 1909 she became the head of the Needlework and Embroidery Section, adding Bookbinding and Decoration and Decorative Leatherwork to these responsibilities in 1910. In 1911 Macbeth published Educational Needlecraft, a course in needlecraft for use in schools, with fellow GSA teacher Margaret Swanson. The course was tailored for each stage of childhood development, to nurture both creative and technical development as students mature, and sought to promote the artistic merits of embroidery.

In 1912 she finally became the Director of Studies in the Needlecraft-Decorative Art Studios.[5] The same year, Macbeth was briefly held in solitary confinement and subjected for forced feeding as punishment for her suffragist activism. This experience is described in letters Macbeth wrote to GSA administrators; their response shows support for her recovery over five months of absence.

In addition during her time at the Glasgow School of Art Ann Macbeth also taught classes in Ceramic Decoration and China Painting. Even after she moved to the Lake District in the 1920s she held the prestigious position of Visiting Lecturer – Needlework and Embroidery from 1921 until her retirement in 1929.[6]

Related Material: Please note, GSA Library has digitised the following volumes from its collections related to Ann Macbeth:


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[1] Liz Arthur, “Ann Macbeth (1875-1948)”, in Burkhauser, Glasgow Girls: Women in Art and Design 1880-1920, (Glasgow, 1990). P 153.
[2] GSA Alphabetical Student Register, 1897-1898.
[3] GSA Alphabetical Student Register, 1902-9.
[4] GSA Student Register, 1902-9.
[5] GSA Annual Reports and Prospectuses 1901-2 to 1913-14.
[6] Liz Arthur, “Ann Macbeth (1875-1948)”, in Burkhauser, Glasgow Girls: Women in Art and Design 1880-1920, (Glasgow, 1990), p 155, also GSA Annual reports and Prospectuses, 1920-21 to 1929-30.

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