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“This makes the casts in fact priceless”

Recently some of the GSA Archives and Collection’s plaster casts have moved from the Mackintosh Building to their new home over the road in the Reid Building. Those of you who have already seen the post Our Plaster Casts and Objects, you will know that the Mackintosh Building has always hosted a number of plaster casts comprising of human figures, architectural fragments, plaster reliefs, plaster friezes, tondos and busts. These casts have occupied the corridors of the Mackintosh Building since it opened.

Plaster Casts outside the Mackintosh Library, GSA Archives and Collections (Archive reference: GSAA/P/1/200)

Plaster Casts outside the Mackintosh Library, GSA Archives and Collections (Archive reference: GSAA/P/1/200)

Used as examples of classical statuary from the Roman, Greek, Italian and Medieval periods, these casts have been a common feature in the experience of GSA students. It is in fact possible to trace the casts through many of the pieces of student work in our Archives and Collections, as well as in our records and correspondence relating to the running of the School.

Alongisde sketches and paintings that feature these statues, there are letters in our institutional records discussing their up-keep, as well as giving tantalising snippets of what the casts have previously been used for (there is mention of these pieces being used in theatrical productions…). One such letter, from William Buchanan to Director Harry Barnes discusses the process of repair work on the casts and the difficulty in finding replacement parts (such as for broken arms, hands etc.) and comments ‘This makes the casts in fact priceless’ (Papers of Director Harry Barnes, DIR/13/41 29th May 1979).

Photograph of the plaster cast of Marsyas, GSA Archives and Collections (Archive reference: DB/153)

Photograph of the plaster cast of Marsyas, GSA Archives and Collections (Archive reference: DB/153)

For such important pieces of work it is indeed unfortunate that the fire in the Mackintosh Building has meant that many have been put into storage while those that were affected by the fire receive conservation work. However, a select few of these statues are now on display in the Reid Building!

These plaster casts will be on display for the duration of the Mackintosh Buildings restoration, so go to the Reid and see if you can spot a few!

 

 

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