An echo from Scotland on Mackintosh’s 152nd birthday.

An echo from Scotland on Mackintosh’s 152nd birthday. This year 2020 will not see the Dome Gardens animated by a smiling crowd to celebrate Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s birthday this Sunday, June 7th as was the case last year at the garden party organised by our association. Because of the Covid crisis, the CRM Society of Glasgow has also announced a similar decision, however let us welcome their clever initiative to launch a “Letters to Mackintosh” competition to mark the occasion.

But this anniversary has brought about a tribute to Mackintosh’s work in our region. Our loyal Scottish fan, Cathy Bell, lover of both CRM and Roussillon, found time during the confinement period to write a third article on our association which you will find attached in English and French. The article’s distribution and translation have been validated by the author and editor of Artwork. Remember that she is a journalist, artist and art historian. In thanks for her unfailing support for several years, she was recently appointed by our Administrative Council, to be classed as a “benefactor member” of our association, as well as David Cairns, currently the elected president of the CRM Society in Glasgow referred to in the article.

Toshie memories alive and well.

Like countless numbers of cultural organisations closed due to the devastating Coronavirus pandemic, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Association in Roussillon is currently on hold. The CRM association, based in Port Vendres in southern France, is responsible for running three interpretation centres and the CRM trail which maps the locations where Mackintosh painted watercolours in the area when he and his wife Margaret lived there in the 1920’s.

Before lockdown the association was active undertaking the essential maintenance of the CRM Trail by replacing badly damaged stands holding boards that show replicas of the watercolours in situ on the coast, in the Vallespir (Amélie les bains) and the Conflent and Upper Conflent (Ille sur Têt and Mont-louis). Alongside the accompanying informative text, they also plan to add a review of each of the watercolours.

Past events in 2019 include a Saint Andrew’s night complete with Scottish food, a piper and dancing. They also hosted a stall at the town’s Christmas Village selling Mackintosh related items, one aim of this being to take CRM out of the centre and connect directly with the Port Vendrais.

In June 2019 a garden party was held in the grounds of the centre to celebrate Mackintosh’s birthday. On this occasion there was a performance both in English and French of “Dear Margaret” adapted from Lorn McIntyre’s “Sonnets from Port Vendres”.

In March last year four members of the committee made a trip to Glasgow when they were invited to visit the Mackintosh designed Windy Hill house by the owner and Chair of the CRM Society in Glasgow David Cairns. The trip strengthened connections with both the society and the Hunterian Gallery.

With the addition of a new website and blog the association are now getting back on track after some unfortunate internal problems a few years ago.

They have also been collaborating with the public library in Port Vendres where a dedicated “Mackintosh corner” has been created. This is a section of the library which has been set aside featuring a study area and Mackintosh designed replica furniture. Due to the lockdown, the inauguration of this facility planned for March was postponed, however, when able to open, it will be another addition to an already impressive catalogue.

Recently at the French local elections there was a change in administration in Port Vendres. The president of the association Michele Grau is keen to keep the momentum going and maintain the good work they have done in the town.

She states “the association would like to thank the previous municipal teams who have graciously provided a place to open the interpretation centre thus allowing CRM to be known. At present the District Council and its tourism managers wish that this world-famous painter becomes emblematic for Port Vendres in the same was as Matisse and Derain for Collioure and Malliol for Banyuls-sur-mer”.

She continues “the association hopes that the City Council will embrace this dynamic and allow us to move into more spacious and visible premises”.

It seems that the memory of Charles Rennie Mackintosh in France is safe in the hands of the CRM Association in Roussillon. In better days they should be pleased to welcome visitors again.

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