A designer forged his love of art and theater by creating intricate designs, including bringing an iconic scene to life in honor of his grandmother.
Stuart Smith-Gordon started making mock-ups of theaters during lockdown to reconnect with venues forced to close due to the pandemic.
His business Ice Cream at the Interval has been a huge success and he now sells DIY kits online and in theaters, raising money for charity.
The former Dumbarton man has now recreated 35 theaters in miniature form across the UK – with his latest inspired by his 94-year-old grandmother Stella McGoldrick, who lives at Argyle Lodge Care Home in Helensburgh.
Her recreation of Glasgow’s Alhambra Theater holds a special place in her heart as it is where she has danced and enjoyed watching many performances over the years.
It was famous for its spectacular musicals, premieres and pantomimes and was the last traditional theater built in Glasgow in 1910 before being demolished 50 years ago.
Stuart explained: “It was a big part of his life. She danced there when she was younger and often went to the theater alone after work.
“That’s what a lot of people did back then.
“It would have been very different from people’s living rooms and they would have been transported to a palace-like setting.
“Many are a work of art in themselves with incredible paintings and friezes.
“A lot of artists do illustrations of the exterior of theaters but the interior is a magical space.
“She suggested I do the Alhambra, so I dug through the archives and found photos of her appearance. I thought it would be a good way for her to reconnect with that world. It’s been 50 years since it was demolished and only exists in black and white photos, so I did some research and talked to her about how she remembers it to recreate it in color.
He spent hours researching and illustrating the theater in great detail, capturing its most iconic features and helping to transport people to what was a magnificent theater space.
He recounted how his grandmother was thrilled with the finished product, saying, “She loved the model. It brought back a lot of memories for him. »
Stuart’s love of acting stems from the fact that he was a young boy when he performed in drama school and his parents took him to see shows.
He continued: “I have always had a real affection for them. I love that feeling of the lights plunging you into darkness and you don’t know where you’re going to be taken.
“I had a little toy theater and would recreate the scene from memory and that’s where my love of theater and design comes from.”
Stuart studied interior design at the Glasgow School of Art and later moved to Edinburgh where he works as an exhibition designer.
He added: “In a way, exhibition spaces are mini-sets as they take visitors into another world to tell a story.
“I was fired when everything stopped during confinement and I decided to make models of theaters as part of a personal project.
“My husband had the idea to sell them for charity and it went from there.”
Stuart’s models have now raised an incredible £1,000 for theater charities and he has plenty of ideas to do even more, especially for theaters that are long gone.
The popularity of television and rising maintenance costs led to the disappearance of many theaters, some demolished and others converted to different uses, such as bingo halls and nightclubs.
Stuart added: “I would love to do one of Gorbals Palace Theaters which was demolished in the 1970s. It was really ornately decorated and had these amazing elephant figures.
“I would really like to recreate more iconic theaters that are now gone.”
“I love the detective work of recreating them. Putting the puzzle back together to what it once looked like.
As well as the kits themselves, Stuart also sells prints, greeting cards and posters of his designs at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/IceCreamAtThe