Leading artists including David Shrigley, Cornelia Parker, Antony Gormley, Tacita Dean, Peter Blake and Grayson Perry have created artworks using materials saved from The Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh library fire. The group of 25 international creatives, which also includes Jenny Saville, Douglas Gordon, Anish Kapoor, Conrad Shawcross, Simon Starling, Chantal Joffe, Martin Boyce and The Chapman Brothers have made original works to raise money for the Mackintosh Building restoration. The project has been put together by J. Walter Thompson London in collaboration with The Glasgow School of Art Development Trust.
The works will be displayed at Christie’s in the show called Ash to Art, and include sculpture, photography, drawing and painting using remains from the fire such as charred timbers, books and furniture.
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 the item. Grayson Perry has created a ceramic urn emblazoned with the message “Art is Dead. Long live art.”
“It’s a tragedy,” Grayson says of the fire, which destroyed the Grade A-listed library building, originally designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, in 2014. “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 obvious thing to do. The idea of memorialising or celebrating the difficulty – honouring 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.”
Ash to Art will be exhibited at Christie’s on King Street, London from 3–7 March 2017 and auctioned on 8 March 2017.