Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow School of Art: Clean-up operation continues

Art school after fire
Image caption Fire crews have began the huge clean-up operation inside the badly damaged building

Staff at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) have started to remove artwork and other items from the fire-damaged Mackintosh building.

The GSA said the "first priority" was to retrieve archives or collections which needed immediate conservation.

It is hoped that it will later be possible to retrieve students' work from the building.

Firefighters managed to save about 70% of the building's contents from Friday's fire.

Final year students had been preparing for their end of year degree show in the building when the blaze broke out.

Many of the students' final-year work had been stored in the building's studios.

Academic staff confirmed that some students will have lost all of their work and said they wanted to ensure they were supported.

Image caption Documents and art works are being removed from the art school

Staff will also be looking for new studio space for the fine art students, and will need to re-house other departments based in the Mackintosh building.

The whole campus is to remain closed until 10:00 on Friday to allow the fire-damaged building to be cleared and precious work stored in other buildings.

Marathon efforts

Glasgow School of Art professor Tom Inns said that the main damage was to the west wing of the building, built between 1907-09 - which included the Mackintosh library.

The 1897-99 part of the site, including the Mackintosh Museum and Mackintosh Room, has "survived intact", he added.

He said: "The first priority is to retrieve any of our archive and collections in need of immediate conservation, followed by the student work which will where necessary be given over to experts for conservation work to be undertaken. Other items will then be systematically retrieved."

Prof Inns also praised the work of the the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRC) and thanked people who had sent messages of support and offers of assistance.

"The SFRC did not simply go the extra mile, but a marathon in their efforts to ensure that the as much of the Mackintosh Building and student work as possible was protected," he said.

"We have been overwhelmed by the number of messages of support from the local community in Glasgow and friends across the world, and the generosity of individuals and organisations in offering expert assistance to help us in these difficult times".

Image copyright Scottish Fire and Rescue
Image caption Fire crews worked through the weekend after the blaze

Scottish Fire and Rescue's chief officer Alasdair Hay said that fire crews had done their best to save as much of the building's contents as possible.

He said: "Those involved in this incident were predominantly drawn from greater Glasgow and they were certainly very aware of the importance of the Mackintosh to the city.

"We have all been conscious of the fact this is also a building that houses the hard work of Glasgow School of Art students, especially at this time of year."

He added: "By working very closely with staff from the art school, we were able to identify items and target our efforts to recover items of great importance and save everything that could possibly be saved."

At its height there was 200 firefighters at the scene, with some of the crews being drafted in from other areas of Scotland.

The work of the crews was praised by Assistant Chief Officer Dave Goodhew, who was incident commander for about eight hours.

He described the operation to extinguish the fire as being "particularly difficult".

He said: "This is a beautiful building with a great heritage, truly loved by the people of Scotland.

"The fire started in the basement and soon spread to the roof. It is a very old building so we knew it would be a particularly difficult fire to fight and extinguish."

'Truly heartbreaking'

The fire service is working with Police Scotland to identify the cause of the fire.

Some students have suggested it could have started in the basement when a spark from a projector caught a piece of foam.

Over the weekend a number of bodies pledged to help assist in the restoration of the building.

Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop, said the fire was "truly heartbreaking" and confirmed the Scottish government would "support the funding effort required".

The UK government also said it would make a significant contribution towards the costs of restoring the building.

A fund has also been set-up to allow the public to contribute to the clean-up and restoration of the building.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh building is recognised as being one of the greatest examples of art nouveau in the world.

Originally opening in 1909 after an near twelve year construction the building's dramatic heavy sandstone walls and large glass windows are considered to be key architectural calling cards of a new style in 20th Century European buildings.

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