This blog is to remember the 90th anniversary of the death of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who died 10 December 1928.
There’s a wonderful illustrated letter  in Archives & Collections in the Gaskin collection, MS 2945, from Joseph Southall about a visit he and Arthur Gaskin made to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald in about 1905.
Dearies,  both of you
Tis so pleasant to get your letters in the morning & to hear that you feel better. Well I am having a busy time here but very interesting & of course it is flattering to hear that one is well thought of including you my dear — all this in fact we seem looked upon as one.
We went for a game this morning such pretty links I did not shine with borrowed clothes & club tho’ I put my man 5 down.
Well last night we went to call on the Mackintoshs. Now Mackintosh & his wife are the inventors of the Glasgow School. She that is Mrs Mac is a most charming young lady – I was quite gone. I assure you. I also think that you would like her. Let me see if I can draw you the room.
Mrs Mac (rather early 60s. beautiful hair) Mrs Newby (aesthetic, intense)
Letter illustrated with a drawing of two women either side of a fireplace [Ref MS 2945/1/2/79]
The room is tones of white.
Two pipe racks in fender. Smoked and signed by more or less notable people. Your’s ‘umbly for instance.
They are interested in your work & she is to my mind especially charming. He is rather stout and jovial but their art has such a queer mad look though they are both extremely able.
Drawing of two men smoking pipes, in a room with stained glass and a chandelier [Ref MS 2945/1/2/79]
Ta ta lots of love to you both
This archive collection is a joy to look at, with many illustrations in Southall’s letters to Gaskin. Many of these illustrate Gaskin playing golf – obviously a hobby he enjoyed, and was teased about.
I love finding out about interesting projects that reinterpret and bring archives to light in imaginative ways. One local project that I am enjoying following is the work of Sarah Moss the artist in residence at Winterbourne House and Gardens.
Sarah is currently working on a series of linocuts depicting moments from the life of the Nettlefold family who built Winterbourne and lived there in the early twentieth century. John Sutton Nettlefold was a member of the prominent local manufacturers Nettlefold and Co. (later Guest, Keen and Nettlefold) as well as being the managing director of the ammunition manufacturer Kynoch Ltd for many years. He was also a local councillor concerned with social reform and urban planning; in his role as first chairman of the local housing committee he extended the slum clearance programme and established the Moor Pool Estate in Harborne. John and his wife Margaret (nee Chamberlain) were part of the interconnected group of Unitarian families in Birmingham at the time. The family archive which is housed at Winterbourne is a rich resource for understanding domestic and personal experiences of life in a middle class Edwardian family.
Christmas design from the Tony Fisher collection. © Fisher Estate. [MS 4856 Acc 2016/053]
It’s been another busy year for the Iron Room blog. In 2016 we published 66 articles (this being number 67) and we have already begun planning for 2017! We would like to say thank you so much for your support and contributions – we really couldn’t (and wouldn’t want to) do it without you.
Archives and Collections at the Library of Birmingham has also been busy and amongst the new accessions taken in this year, the highlight, at least for me, has been the Tony Fisher archive (MS 4856).
Educated at the Moseley School of Arts & Crafts, Tony went on to become a print designer, a lecturer at the Bournville School of Art & Design and eventually Senior Graphic Designer at the BBC, Birmingham.
Big Hoot at the Library of Birmingham
Birmingham has been invaded by owls! Artistic owls of course. As part of the Big Hoot, 89 owl sculptures have appeared across the City, decorated with many different wonderful designs, each representing a unique theme.
The owls were created by artists for a project run by Wild in Art to bring local schools, businesses and artists together, and form a trail inspired by Birmingham’s culture and heritage. The owls will be perched in the City until 27th September, at which point they will be auctioned to raise money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
As part of Big Hoot’s Little Hoot, school children have been creating their own little owlets (120 in all) and you can discover where the owls have nested by downloading the trail leaflet from the Big Hoot website.
See if you can discover where these owls are at the Library of Birmingham
Despite the Harris Hawk, owls have even taken up residence in the Library of Birmingham. See if you can discover where!