As part of Creative Mackintosh Month (October 2014), the Willow Tea Room offered tea and a tour, hardly something that one could pass up – to both learn about Mackintosh and have a cup of tea in the same historical spot. Ms. Sylvia Smith was a fountain of everything Mackintosh; a one-person archive of all things Cranston/Willow/MacK and MacD.
We started on the top floor, the billiard room where she told us the history of Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms as they were known back then.
The art work of Mackintosh often represented nature, often as translated by the Druids. Willow and Mistletoe were sacred in their religion; and “Sauchiehall” means Willow in Druid-speak. Mistletoe was represented in the doors.
Miss Cranston came from a family of prohibition activists…which at the end of the day might have been a benefit to Mackintosh as he fell under the influence of drink to his art’s demise. Miss Cranston had a keen eye for business and a kind heart. She often took young women into her care giving them careers as waitresses in the tearooms (she had four) and a place in her home as well.
Cranston had an artists eye as well; giving Mackintosh free rein inside and out; and bringing her own style to the internal design. The chandelier was designed as a flowers, from which she each day placed flowers from her own garden into each vase overhead.
If you stop by the Tearoom you are likely to see Sylvia; she can tell you more. I would hate to spoil the entire story – but can leave you with more photos to entice you to come in.
One of Mackintosh’s legacies, it also contains the genius of his wife; Margaret Macdonald. Mackintosh was quoted saying that, “he had talent; but Margaret had genius“.
I might agree; her work is marvellous. Earthy. Grounded, but with mystic.