Student came face to face with Glasgow School of Art flames

A STUDENT who lost her work in the Glasgow School of Art fire told how she came face-to-face with the flames as they ripped through the city building.

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Hannah Hamill had gone to the basement in a lift when she saw the growing blaze that engulfed part of the renowned Mackintosh Building three weeks ago today.

The 23-year-old painting and printmaking student is one of 102 fine art students who have been allocated exhibition space in the city's McLellan Galleries to stage their Degree Show after much of their work was damaged or lost.

It was first thought that the degree show, which is usually shown in the Mackintosh, would have to be cancelled.

Hannah said she went to the basement - where the fire started - when the alarm was raised at around 12.30pm on Friday May 23.

She said: "I didn't think it was anything serious, but when I got out of the lift I saw the fire was coming at us and we had to run.

"It was terrifying. After we got out it hadn't sunk in. I was just thinking: 'When will we get back in to get our work?'

"We didn't realise how bad the blaze was."

Hannah, who yesterday found out she had been awarded a First Class degree, said it took a "long time" for the events to sink in but she felt salvaging the Degree Show would give the students some closure.

She added: "What really came through was the sense of community in the art school."

Painting and printmaking student Alex Haukrogh Jensen, who lost some of his work in the blaze, illustrates his loss with a blank canvas in the exhibition space.

He said: "I just felt numb after it."

The only surviving work belonging to Hannah Blackwell, 22, is a photograph of a sculpture taken in one of the now gutted art school studios.

Fighting back tears, Hannah said: "Everything is gone. It makes me feel sad but seeing the photo brings back good memories of working in the studio."

Rosie Dahlstrom, 21, from Finnieston, compared the run-up to the degree show as like preparing for a wedding - so it was "devastating" when the fire happened.

She said: "We were not sleeping, not eating, only working. Then the fire happened and we didn't know what had survived, we didn't know what to do.

"It was only when I saw a picture of firefighters standing in front of my paintings after the blaze that I realised they had been saved."

Fine art and photography student Samuel Hailey Watts, 23, said: "Even for people who didn't lose anything it's still a symbolic loss.

"I lost half my work but everything that did survive is unusable anyway."

Joe Hancock, 37, of the fine art, sculpture and environment department, said his steel sculpture escaped serious damage because of the materials he used.

He said: "It's a very emotional time for everyone. I think there will be a lot of tears, from me included, tonight."

rachel.loxton@eveningtimes.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment

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