A REPLICA of the stunning artistic centrepiece of the old Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow is to be installed in the restored building in Sauchiehall Street.

The Willow Wood gesso panel was a sculptural relief created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s wife Margaret Macdonald and served as the centrepiece in Miss Cranston’s most extravagant room, the Salon de Luxe.

Although the original survives, it is too fragile to be moved from its home at Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow and experts were asked to reproduce the famous piece exactly as it would have looked when the tea rooms opened in 1903.

Glasgow artists Dai and Jenny Vaughan, who have made gesso panels in Macdonald’s style before, have spent months painstakingly completing the work, which is set to be installed later this month.

In Mackintosh’s Tea Rooms, a BBC2 Scotland documentary to be shown tonight, Mr Vaughan says: “It is the central feature of the whole tea room. Mackintosh believed that the soul and heart of his interiors were the gesso panels. You can say this is the soul of the Willow Tea Rooms.”