Autumn 2014 Newsletter

Autumn 2014

Maps to Memorials: Discovering the Work of MacDonald Gill

In mid-August, Maps to Memorials: Discovering the Work of MacDonald Gill opened at The Lettering Arts Centre in the Snape Maltings, Suffolk.  The show focuses on Max's lettering skills, with a small selection of posters, including some original artwork, memorial  designs, calligraphy (including the Burgh Missal) and graphic work, and of course - in this centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War - a military headstone.  The show has been immensely popular and with another two weeks to run, there's still a chance to see it!  The Centre is a perfect venue for the show and boasts a shop full of handcrafted lettering treasures - well worth visiting anytime you're in the area.


Bladen Estate Centenary Exhibition

In the last newsletter I mentioned the exhibition in Briantspuddle, Dorset, celebrating the building of the Ernest Debenham's Bladen Estate farm and model village, where Max was architect-in-residence from 1914 to 1919.   I hope some of you were able to visit this picturesque village and see the amazing collection of information, photos and artefacts gathered under one roof.  While there, I saw inside Max's silos and one of the cottages he designed and to my enormous surprise and delight I discovered upstairs an old beam which had been decorated by Max himself a hundred years ago!

Mary Corell

The Gill family came together in West Wittering on 17th September to say our farewells to Mary Corell, Max's daughter, who died on August 31st aged 96.  Over the last 8 years we've had such fun times together, chatting about her father,  looking through old photos and just enjoying each other's company over long lunches.  She adored Max and was so thrilled that he was at last coming 'out of the shadows'.  A very determined and feisty lady, she refused to obey the paramedics when they tried to take her off in an ambulance after she'd suffered a nasty fall just outside the Brighton gallery where she was due to be guest of honour at the opening of the show in 2011!  I'm indebted to Mary for her invaluable insights and anecdotes, some of which will be incorporated into the Max biography I'm (still!) writing.  She'll be greatly missed.

St John the Divine

Last week,  my mother and I navigated the North Circular down to Richmond to visit St John the Divine in Richmond.  This Arts & Crafts gem was refurbished and extended in around 1912 by Max's friend the architect Arthur Grove, a pupil of J.D. Sedding.  My interest lay particularly in the Lady Chapel, which houses a magnificent gilded reredos, recently restored to reveal long lost colours and detail, both in the four statues painted by Max in 1912, as well as the beautiful painting by Dorothy Smirke of the Virgin and Child with Two Angels (after Verrocchio).   As with other Grove (and E.S. Prior) churches, the interior was decorated and fitted out by the leading craftsmen of the day including Ernest Gimson, Henry Wilson and Max's brother Eric. Sadly, Max's flamboyant mural painting of St George and the Dragon decorating the proscenium arch of the stage in the parish hall  disappeared long ago - though I gather it may well still exist under layers of paint - how tantalising!


GPO Radio-Telephone Services Map

Anyone interested in telecommunications must surely love Max's GPO Radio-Telephone Services map (1935).  Many of its roundel pictures are based on Rugby Radio Station, the home of the Speaking Clock.    Now most of the Station is redundant, but some of the old equipment is being rehoused.  The gigantic wood and copper Aerial Tuning Inductance coil featured on the map (see right) is now the centrepiece of the new Information Age gallery at the Science Museum, opened by the Queen last week.  You can see the coil on the link:



Fri 15th August – Wed 12th November 
Maps to Memorials: Discovering the Work of MacDonald Gill at the Lettering Arts Centre, Snape Maltings, Suffolk IP17 1SP. Open: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays 11am until 5pm. If you make a special trip to see the show on another day, do ring to make sure of a welcome (but not Tues 28th or Wed 29th Oct).


Talks on The Life and Work of MacDonald Gill

Thursday 30th October 2014  -  6pm  A 3-part illustrated talk by Caroline Walker, Andrew Johnston and Angela Johnston, co-curators of the exhibition at The Lettering Arts Centre (see above). Small charge.

Monday 10th November 6.30pm  by Caroline Walker, Andrew Johnston and Angela Johnston at Christie's, 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LD.  This preludes a sale on Nov 13th which includes a number of Max's well-known map posters. Free.

Tuesday 25th November  7pm by Caroline Walker at the South London Lettering Association, St Bride's Institute, Bride Lane, LONDON EC4Y 8EQ £3 for non-members.

Tuesday 27th Jan 2015 8pm by Caroline Walker at the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, 11 South Grove, London N6 6BS
Non-members £5. 

Wednesday 11th March 2015 7.30p, by Caroline Walker at the Acton History Group, St Mary's Hall, The Mount, Uxbridge Rd, London W3.

I hope you've enjoyed this rag-bag of information and pictures.   The next letter will be in early 2015.  In the meantime, have a great Christmas and New Year (I know it's a bit early!).

Best wishes

Caroline Walker OR
Tel: 020 8992 0445