designers pam hogg, jonathan saunders and louise gray on the glasgow school of art
For the second of our Global Street Style documentaries, we headed to Scotland to meet the young people ripping up Glasgow's underground scene from in and around its prestigious art school. Here, we speak to three of the school’s best loved graduates...
Photography Nick Knight
"Last June, I received an honorary doctorate from the Glasgow School of Art for my contribution to fashion. Yet I never studied that subject, there wasn't the amazing fashion course they have now, and way back then I'd no intention at all of being in that arena. I was going to be a painter. At school I used to win all the art prizes but because it came so easy to me it didn't mean much. I felt you had to excel in maths and science. I hadn't realised that what came so naturally was in fact a skill. My art teacher assumed I'd be going to "the art school" but I didn't even know there was such a place. It seemed crazy that there was an institution where you'd go to do what you loved best. When I arrived at the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building I knew my life would change forever. It was like landing on another planet. I hadn't been exposed to anything like it before; the insane design, the irregularities, the unexpected corners, the craftsmanship. It was a place that before that moment in time had never existed, but where instinctively I knew I'd always wanted to be. I was astonished at the standard of other student's work. It was the first time I'd felt challenged. It was so inspiring and exactly the catalyst I needed. In my first year all I focused on was drawing and painting but going into my second year I realised there were other areas to explore. I was drawn to the textiles department even though there was no fashion course at that time. But that didn't matter as I'd taught myself to sew when I was a child and had been customising hand me downs from the age of six. Here was an opportunity to design my own fabrics. The Mackintosh building disastrously burned down in 2014 not long after the new building was opened across the road. It'll never be quite the same but thankfully the restoration has begun. Glasgow Art School has a reputation for being the best in the world. I feel that hasn't changed. Most importantly it's one of the few still generating grants for the underprivileged. I received the best grant there as we had the poorest family income. Without this on offer, many gifted kids will fail to realise their potential because of a lack of family money. Without a grant I've no idea where or what I'd be doing now, but probably not receiving mail through my letterbox addressed to Dr Hogg!"
"It was significant that I studied at the Glasgow School of Art before doing a masters at St Martins. The great thing about The GSA as an institution was they believed in blurring the lines between design and fine art by having us all together for certain projects, always critiquing work from a philosophical point of view. The building itself is incredibly inspiring, designed by Rennie Mackintosh. They allowed me to change from product design to textiles in the middle of my degree because they knew it was what I believed in. They also were very process driven. I went to St Martins having a strong technical understanding of how to produce printed fabric and also how to construct garments. It was something that Louise Wilson noticed and it helped me get through the MA. One of the most important things though is that, because of the Scottish government, my fees were paid and I received a grant because of my financial situation. I worked part time throughout my degree but I still could never have afforded to go to uni without this support. I noticed that many of my classmates were in this position. This doesn't happen in London so we are starting to see a very middle class pool of students who are privileged. There is nothing wrong with that, but it's not good for fashion to have everyone from one background. It doesn't push ideas. I think universities outside London now may have a better balance of this because the cost of living is lower."
"Studying at the Glasgow School of Art gave me the space to grow my ideas within design. I love that it is drenched in history of Rennie Macintosh. The design school is taught around the Bauhaus theorem where you can experiment within all areas before you become specialised in one field. This is so important as you navigate through what you want to try to do within your own work. I loved that the cohort was pretty small and the place to mix was the Vic bar. So much special dancing went down there! I value my time there as being able to grow, and I think it's defined who I am now still as a person. Perhaps that's what I've chosen rather than than was given. The fine art painters were in the Mac building and we were in the now knocked down textile tower - the higher you went up in years there, the higher you went in floors in the building. I remember well my friends and I flashing our bras or writing notes on the window to the painters over the road. I think it helped me understand the value of creating things. The lectures, lecturers and technical staff are all brilliant - the level of teaching there really is something special. I've kept in touch with my tutors always as I really think that is important for me. I've since been back to teach there myself and I only have great things to say about it - the studios are incredible and spacious, the weave room has the most knock out views over tenement Glasgow. The students should really love that they aren't in London and enjoy the creative freedom you get to investigate yourself."
Read our beginners guide to Glasgow here.
Text Matthew Whitehouse