Art Deco traveller shines light on Scots buildings

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AN arts writer has released a new travel guide, exploring Art Deco buildings across the UK.

Genista Davidson’s fascination with Art Deco began as a child as her ancestors were church builders.

Her father worked as an architect and as a small child she would spend her time immersed in that world - when she wasn’t playing dress up with her great grandmothers clothes from the 1920s.

It was here her love of art deco formed.

“It’s the glamour; the good, old fashioned manners,” she explained.

“It’s just appreciating that architecture. I love everything about it. For others, it is the nostalgic feeling of it, looking through rose tinted glasses. Because of course there were bad times as well - the depression - but with art deco it transcends all of it.

“It wasn’t just the architecture - it was everything the fashion, the jewellery, makeup, handbags and even the designs on shoes or the glassware. It swept across Europe, it was nothing that was seen before or since - it affected everybody.”

When Ms Davidson was approached to write the book she looked back through years of travel journals, spanning most of her adult life, to find what had survived the test of time.

“It was a very emotional journey for me - some of these places I hadn’t visited in 20 years. Some places have been shut down - others have been converted in to things like bingo halls, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the beautiful structures live on.”

The Scottish art deco scene is quite different from the rest of the UK, because of the Charles Rennie Makintosh influence.

She said: “The Scottish buildings also used a lot of granite, making them decidedly different from the rest of the UK. They had their own personality to them.”

And because of this, The Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow are at the top of the list of must visit places in the book. Designed by the artist, he was given crate blanch on the decoration of the tea room, and also went so far as to remodel the exteriors and waitresses uniforms.

The book also features a great selection of lidos. “I love swimming, I’m a great swimmer. I have my own collection of knitted swim suits and a swimming cap I always wear. I get a few laughs but it doesn’t bother me. I think people think I’m quite a character.

“But that was one of my main focuses of the book, to make it accessible to everyone. I’ve not put prices in it, because it’s just supposed to be a guide you can dip in and out of. It is what you make of it. For example, Claridges in London is featured in the book. But you by no means have to stay there. You can just go in and get a cup of tea and enjoy the beautiful decor.”

Ms Davidson recommends dressing the part and listening to music from the era - if you’re going to go for it, may as well be all in.

Art Deco Traveller is available for £9.99