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The Alexander Thomson Society has launched a contest – held in memory of its former chair Mark Baines – for ‘beautiful’ architectural drawings or paintings (Deadline: 8 April)
The Remembering Mark Baines Architectural Illustration Competition –sponsored by the Glasgow Institute of Architects (GIA) – is open to everyone and seeks original, anonymous submissions which celebrate a chosen building anywhere in the world.
The contest is being held to commemorate Baines who died in 2020 and was instrumental in setting up the society which is named after the acclaimed architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson’s whose works include Holmwood House and St Vincent Street Free Church in Glasgow’s West End.
According to the brief: ‘The late Mark Baines was a founding member and chair of the society, an architect, and teacher of architecture at the Macintosh School of Architecture. He continually emphasised the importance of drawing architecture, was never without a sketchbook.
‘The brief for the architectural illustration competition is to create, using pencil, ink or paint, an architectural interpretation and celebration of a building of your choice. Quite simply a beautiful drawing or painting. There will be an exhibition of entries held in 2022.’
Thomson completed an impressive range of villas, terraces, tenements, warehouses and churches during a short career before his death at the age of 57. His buildings achieved international recognition during the 1950s due to their perceived influence on Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Alexander Thomson Society was founded by architectural journalist Gavin Stamp more than 25 years ago to preserve and promote his work. Baines was also one of the organisation’s early founders and its chair but passed away in 2020 aged 67.
The GIA, which is supporting the competition, is the largest chapter of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, with more than 1,200 members in a region spanning from the Scottish borders to Argyll.
Judges will include Robin Webster, partner at Cameron Webster Architects and emeritus professor of architecture at Robert Gordon University; Charlie Sutherland of Sutherland Hussey Harris Architects; the artist Alexandra Gardner; Ian Alexander from JM Architects; and Sally White, secretary at The Alexander Thomson Society.
Artworks must be submitted digitally in any size or ratio up to a limit of A2 square format (420 x 420mm). Computer aided drawings and photographs are ineligible.
Application costs £10 until 27 February and the fee rises to £15 thereafter. The overall winner will receive a £300 top prize while two highly commended submissions will each take home £100 and a £100 student award will also be announced.
Q&A with Sally White
The secretary of the Alexander Thomson Society discusses her ambitions for the competition
Why are you holding an international competition for illustrations named in honour of Mark Baines?
Mark Baines, late chair and founding member of the Alexander Thomson Society in 1991, was an architect who taught at the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow for thirty five years. He was a student there, tutored and greatly influenced by the late professors Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan, of Gillespie Kidd and Coia, and this informed his own approach to teaching and designing buildings. He was a master of the architectural sketch and encouraged his students to increase their confidence in drawing as a means of testing hypotheses and conveying design ideas, as he did himself. He strongly felt that drawing or painting architecture was an essential skill in designing buildings, and that this should compliment any computer aided design skills.
He curated three Alexander Thomson exhibitions which were inspired by Thomson’s architecture and drawings, the last exhibition fittingly entitled ‘Lines of Thought’. He was responsible for introducing many students and others, both in the UK and internationally to discover, appreciate and be inspired by Thomson’s work.
The Alexander Thomson Society wish to recognise the importance of his work and beliefs, and an international architectural illustration competition open to all is an apposite way of achieving this.
What would you like to see in submissions to the competition?
The competition brief states that we are quite simply looking for a beautiful illustration of a building of the entrant’s choice. Encouraging people to select a building and convey why they have chosen to represent it in their submission we hope will result in a diverse range of buildings and illustrative styles. The competition may offer alternative ways of illustrating architecture by both professional and non professional people.
What role do you see this competition playing in the development of new local, international and underrepresented architectural and design talents, and helping to address the underrepresentation and engagement of many communities in our interpretation of the built environment?
The brief is expected to attract submissions from individuals, although this is not restricted.
There is a growing interest in both historical and contemporary architecture and many opportunities exist for the wider community to engage meaningfully in discussion. The competition is inclusive to any member of the local and wider community for them to express their interpretation of a building encouraging them to create a beautiful work, which will be exhibited this year.
Are there any recent similar competitions or projects, either locally or internationally, which have delivered impressive results?
There are several well-established annual exhibitions of art which also incorporate architecture such as the Royal Scottish Academy which always has a fascinating exhibition of architectural drawings as does the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition in London. The Royal Glasgow Institute held an inspirational architectural drawing competition several years ago.
How do you see projects at the society evolving in the future and what competitions will you hold next?
This is the third competition held by the Society following two Thomson themed design
competitions relating to the Double Villa and Egyptian Halls. The interest was international and helps to further awareness and knowledge of the architecture of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson.
There is scope to create other design competitions in the future inspired by Thomson.
It is hoped that this drawing competition will be held biennially on varying themes, and that it will become a lasting acknowledgement of Mark Baines and his commitment to architecture, Alexander Thomson and his belief in creating beautiful architecture through drawing and understanding. The emphasis on hand drawn or painted submissions will remain constant.
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