Winter 2013/2014 Newsletter

Winter 2013/14


The highlight of the autumn was the arrival of 'Out of the Shadows: MacDonald Gill' in West London.  It was an adapted version of the 2011 Brighton show, and again co-curated by Andrew and Angela Johnston and myself.  It was a triumph!  According to staff, it was one of the most popular exhibitions the PM Gallery has ever hosted! It received nearly 4000 visitors and the Visitors' Book overflowed with glowing comments.  The public response to Max's work has been overwhelming - it's made all our hard work worthwhile!  I think Max is well and truly 'out of the shadows'!  Many thanks to all of you who managed to get to see the show, some even came twice!   Heaps of praise must also go to the gallery staff who were simply fantastic - unfailingly enthusiastic and amazingly efficient.   The displays looked marvellous in the wonderful space and natural light of the gallery, housed in a wing of Sir John Soane's Ealing villa.  If you've never been, do go, the exhibitions there are always interesting and very varied.   You can go round the Soane house too!  All free!

If you missed that, there's still a chance to see a couple of Max's maps in the 'Poster Art 150' the London Transport Museum exhibition.  Otherwise you'll have to wait a while.   A small lettering exhibition is planned for next late summer/ autumn at the Lettering Arts Centre in The Maltings at Snape (see Events page), and we're in discussions to hold a large show in Cambridge, perhaps in 2015.

Talks are in demand.  In June I was at the National Archives, where the talk was recorded and is now available to listen to directly or to download as a podcast from the NA website:

The wonders of modern technology!  And recently I talked on the lettering of MacDonald Gill to members of the Letter Exchange - a very attentive and informed audience.  A great evening and thanks for the pizza!  Several talks are already in the diary for 2014:

  • Wed 5th March 7.30 National Trust Ealing, Ealing Town Hall.
  • Sat 22nd March 7.30 Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge
  • Tues 3rd June, Ealing Civic Society, Ealing Town Hall
  • Fri 5th September 7 for 7.30pm, Chichester Literary Society, St George's Church Hall

Several years ago, when reading through some old diaries and letters, I learned that Max was commissioned in 1906 to create a missal, a book of the church services, for Burgh-le-Marsh Mission College in Lincolnshire, where his brother Romney was studying.   It became clear that this was something very special.  Written on vellum, with small illuminations, it was bound in tooled and gilt-embossed calfskin.  The College closed in the early 1930s and a housing estate now stands in its place.  But what had happened to the missal?  Enquiries led nowhere and I gave up my search, but this autumn I decided to try again.  One of my emails was to the local vicar.  The very next day my inbox had a reply with the amazing news that the Missal was at the vicarage!  So, in January I'm off to Lincolnshire to see it, also taking in a visit to Lincoln Cathedral to see Max's work there.  

Meanwhile, Angela's been busy researching the two heraldic tapestries Max designed for St Mary's Hall in Coventry in 1937.  Woven at the William Morris looms at Merton Abbey, they may have been the last tapestries ever made there. We hope one day the designs will be on public display together with the actual tapestries, which are currently in store at the Herbert Gallery.

That's all for now!

I wish you all Happy New Year!

Caroline Walker