• Press release
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  • 31 January 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Leading International artists use materials recovered from The Glasgow School of Art fire to create new works of art to be auctioned at Christie’s, London

Artists including Sir Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry, Jenny Saville and Simon Starling have created works to help raise money for Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building restoration

The Mackintosh Campus Appeal has raised £18.5 million to date, with £13.5million still to be raised of £32million target

 Christie’s Auction to take place during the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale on 8th March

London, 30 January: 25 leading international artists, including Simon Starling, Sir Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry, Cornelia Parker, Jenny Saville, David Shrigley and Douglas Gordon have used materials retrieved from The Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh library after the fire to create original works of art to help raise money for restoration of the Mackintosh Building

Each one of the diverse and distinctive pieces, covering a range of practices including Sculpture, Photography, Drawing and Painting has been created using remains from the fire, from charred timbers and debris to books and furniture.

In an auction titled Ash to Art, created by J. Walter Thompson London in collaboration with The Glasgow School of Art Development Trust, the new art works will be displayed at Christie’s in London King Street in a special exhibition between 3rd and 7th March 2017, then auctioned during the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale on 8th March 2017. The proceeds will be donated to The Mackintosh Campus Appeal.

Artists chosen by J. Walter Thompson London, and including seven Turner Prize winners, come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to create a distinctive body of work, reflecting the international importance and influence of the Mackintosh Building on those who studied there and further afield. Other leading artists participating include Anish Kapoor, Tacita Dean, Conrad Shawcross, The Chapman Brothers and Sir Peter Blake.

Each artist was sent a piece of debris specifically chosen for them with a note telling them what it was, where it was from and explaining the concept. The brief was left open for each artist to interpret what they received and create their own new piece of art.

The diverse body of work includes Anish Kapoor’s wood fragments in red Perspex box, Douglas Gordon’s burnt wood cast in bronze and Grayson Perry’s ceramic with the words “Art is dead. Long live Art”.

The idea was created by J. Walter Thompson London’s Bill Hartley and Giles Hepworth.

See notes for editors for a full list of artists

Douglas Gordon, said: “I was sent a small section of wood that came from the famous library in the building. It sat in my studio in Berlin, on my desk, next to a classic 60's ashtray that a friend had given me - the irony. In any case it reminded me of my times in the library, where one either craned ones neck in order to look up very high, or bent one's head in order to read a book. It has a kind of (traditional) religious or at least a devotional gesture to it. And when I looked at the pieces of wood, I moved them slightly and realised that it was, indeed, a cross. Regarding the material and the process - I wanted to use EXTREME heat in order to make something that would not burn - therefore, the bronze.”

Grayson Perry, said: “It’s a tragedy. It’s the most famous art school building in Britain. It’s also the masterpiece of Mackintosh. It’s a double tragedy. I was very excited when I received the box of charcoal. I had an idea almost immediately and the idea of making an urn was an obviously thing to do. The idea of memorialising or celebrating the difficulty - honoring the wound. It’s something I’m trying to do. Move on and make the most of it.  I really like the idea of using the charcoal from the fire. I thought it was very clever. It’s also fresh – it’s not something that has come up before. We’ve all been asked to do t shirts, knickers and mugs – endless charity rounds. I get about two a week.”

Professor Tom Inns, Director of the GSA “The Mackintosh Campus Project will enable The Glasgow School of Art to restore and upgrade the Mackintosh Building as a home for all first year students whilst also creating state of the art studio space for the School of Fine Art and workshop facilities for the GSA in the converted Stow Building. The project symbolises our commitment to our heritage and our confidence in the future. It has been a pleasure to work with the creative team at J. Walter Thompson London over the last two years on this imaginative initiative that will help in our efforts to raise the £32m required to make our vision a reality.”

Bill Hartley and Giles Hepworth, Creatives at J. Walter Thompson London, said: “It seemed appropriate to use a by-product of the School's fire as the tool of its rebirth. By putting debris from the fire into the hands of artists, it places the future of the School firmly in the hands of the UK’s creative community.”

Leonie Grainger, Head of Christie’s Day auction, said: “Ash to Art ably shows how the creative process can transform the humblest of materials into compelling works of art that are not only a powerful tribute to the history of Glasgow School of Art but also a fitting overture to its future. An integral part of the Christie’s Day Auction of Post War and Contemporary Art in March, we look forward to showcasing this formidable line up of talent and are delighted to be a part of a project that has such imaginative ambition.”

In May 2014 the world-famous Mackintosh Building, at the heart of The Glasgow School of Art’s Garnethill campus, suffered a fire that caused significant damage to the west wing including the loss of the celebrated Mackintosh Library.

The GSA Development Trust subsequently launched The Mackintosh Campus Appeal to raise £32m to help the institution recover from the consequences of the fire, and to deliver an authentic and sympathetic restoration of the Mackintosh Building, including returning the library its original 1910 design. To date the campaign has raised £18.5 million.

 The fire in the Mackintosh Building resonated across the world with individuals and institutions wanting to help the GSA in any way they could. Through the intervention of our artists and their unique body of work, we are helping to support the GSA’s recovery from the fire. Their support will be invaluable to the GSA as it undertakes the restoration of the west wing and upgrade of the east wing of the world-famous Mackintosh Building, and converts the recently acquired Stow Building into studio space that will bring together the whole of the School of Fine Art for the first time in decades.

Further quotes

Alan Horn, Director of The Mackintosh Campus Appeal: “From the very first conversation with the team from J Walter Thompson London in the weeks immediately after the Mackintosh Building fire in 2014, this felt like a very special and sincere partnership. The creative process has been fascinating and it has been a real joy to work with the team at JWT and latterly with our partners at Christie’s to make this project a reality. However, it has been the extraordinarily generous response of the artists that has been the most humbling aspect of the project. We are delighted by the range of creative responses to the material and the pieces that will be auctioned in March. They underline the generosity of this community that has responded so enthusiastically to our cause.”

 MT Rainey, Trustee of the GSA Development Trust: “Ash to Art, which grew from an original idea from the creative team at JWT, is fascinating, and its execution by the project partners has been a tremendous example of world-leading experts in their fields collaborating to create something special. That so many leading contemporary artists have chosen to support this project by contributing meaningful work to the auction is testament to the significance of the Mackintosh Building and the dedication of the JWT/GSA/Christie’s team.”

Full list of artists:

Alison Watt

Anish Kapoor

Antony Gormley

Conrad Shawcross

Chantal Joffe

Cornelia Parker

David Shrigley

Douglas Gordon

Grayson Perry

Idris Khan

Ishbel Myerscough

Jenny Saville

Jim Lambie

Joseph Kosuth

Julie Mehretu

Martin Boyce

Miroslaw Balka

Nathan Coley

Paula Rego

Peter Blake

Rachel Whiteread

Richard Long

Simon Starling

Tacita Dean

The Chapman Brothers

Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction

8 Mar

8 King Street, St. James's, London, , SW1Y 6QT

  • Auction

    8 Mar, 1pm (Lots 101 - 317)

  • Viewing


    3 Mar, 10am - 5pm

    4 Mar, 11am - 6pm

    5 Mar, 12pm - 5pm

    6 Mar, 9am - 7pm

    7 Mar, 8:30am - 4pm

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