Summer 2013 Newsletter

Summer 2013

You'll be glad to hear that the poster exhibition at the Kemistry Gallery in the spring had very good reviews and was well attended.  It was also really pleasing to hear many positive comments from young graphic designers and students, who first of all, couldn't believe either that the posters were so old, or that Max had created every line, circle, and letter by hand, not by computer!

I've just come back from a trip - partly holiday and partly Max pilgimage - with my husband Gary to the North East.  Our first stop was the beautiful church of St Andrew's in Roker, Sunderland, to see the sanctuary decorated with Max's brilliantly coloured mural of 'The Creation' - a most unexpected sight in an otherwise dark interior.  It took Max and at least three assistants - two of whom were women - over three weeks in the early autumn of  1927 to complete the painting, which was done in egg-tempera - I think the local hens must have worked overtime!

Then we crossed the Tyne to Newcastle to see a very decorative reredos, painted by Max, in the 12th century church of St John the Baptist, a work commissioned by Max's former employer Sir Charles Nicholson in 1910.

A few days later we were in Lindisfarne Castle looking at the breathtaking wind-dial map in the entrance hall.  This was commissioned by Edwin Lutyens, who had just finished his remodelling of the castle for the owner of Country Life magazine, Edward Hudson.  Max's original scheme for this map was rejected as Hudson wanted the map to look more 'ancient'.  The map has recently been chosen for a virtual exhibition called 'A History of the North East in 100 Objects' held by museums, galleries and archives across the North East.  You can find out more at

The wind-indicator is possibly one of only two that still work - you can see it in action if you go to the 'youtube' website and type in 'lindisfarne wind indicator 2'.  The last port of call on the pilgrimage was Whalton Manor, a private house remodelled by Lutyens in 1908, for which Max painted another wind-dial.  This is a lovely map, very similar to the one at Nashdom (picture on the website

Just before we embarked on our trip to the north, I had some very exciting news.  This autumn the PMGallery, which is housed in Sir John Soane's Ealing villa, is hosting a slightly scaled-down version of the 2011 Brighton exhibition 'Out of the Shadows: MacDonald Gill', which will feature the full range of Max's work as well as personal papers, photos and memorabilia.    There's not much time before its public opening on September 20th, so life for the Johnstons and I will be busy, deciding on content and display, not to mention dealing with all the nuts and bolts that hold the show together.  The private view will be on 19th September (6 - 9pm) - if you'd like to attend, you will be very welcome - just come along.  The show runs until November 2nd 2013.  Opening times are: Tues-Fri 1-5pm; Sat 11am-5pm; Sun opening till end Sept only 1-5pm. For more information go to