Sunday, 21 September 2008

Charles Rennie Macintosh: Artist's Vision and Creating Beauty

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day - Monday 22nd September 2008
Amanullah De Sondy

I've just realised recently that Charles Rennie Macintosh and I have something in common. Macintosh lived in the Townhead area of Glasgow, the same place I call 'home' today. I didn’t know he used to live in my neighbourhood until a commemorative stone sculpture appeared recently in the area.

Macintosh has been in the news recently because some of his previously unknown drawings have turned up. A vendor bought them at a car boot sale in Glasgow for £10 two years ago but was unaware of what exactly he had bought, and now they’re expected to fetch up to £6,000 at an auction. The auction will also feature a rare Mackintosh cabinet, which is expected to go for up to £100,000.

Artists plan, and then they execute. Michelangelo’s sketches for the Sistine chapel, or Leonardo’s intricate, mind-blowing plans for flying machines are all about imagination and vision. Then comes the execution. As I reflected on the work of Macintosh I thought about planning and final products. I wonder why the end product in the form of the cabinet is valued higher than the plans drawn by Mackintosh? Do we value planning and ideas, or do we naturally seek the finished creation?

There’s an important prophetic tradition in Islam which says that our actions come out of our intentions. Does that mean that good intentions can produce bad actions, and vice versa? The terrorists who detonated the bomb at the Marriot Hotel in Pakistan probably believe their intentions are for the greater good of Islam, but their actions are barbaric, no matter what their vision.

Surely the artist’s vision of creating something beautiful is what believers of all faiths should embrace. I think of Mackintosh’s drawings, and I think of the carnage of the bomb in Pakistan, and I long for a world where we all share the vision of artists, not bombers.

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