Winter & Spring 2015 Newsletter

Winter/Spring 2015 Newsletter

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

In September MacDonald Gill was officially recognised as being a figure of some standing in the artistic world with an entry in the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  Eric is no longer the only Gill so honoured!  This link will take you to the article:

Maps to Memorials

This exhibition at the Lettering Arts Centre in the Snape Maltings ended just after Remembrance Sunday with a flurry of last-minute visitors eager not to miss the show, especially the display on the military headstone and its alphabet.  The show, curated by Andrew Johnston, Caroline Walker and Angela Johnston (L-R in photo), attracted a record  four and a half thousand visitors!

The Gomshall Map

A mystery was solved in October when one of Max's lost painted maps surfaced in Surrey.  I began searching for Max's 'Gomshall map' - a large bird's eye perspective of Surrey painted on wood panels - seven years ago.  I thought I'd have one more attempt and fired off an email to a Surrey historian.  What timing!  By some remarkable coincidence, her parish magazine had only a few days before published a small feature on this very map, which had been donated to the Shere Museum after languishing in a brewery basement for over 50 years.  It was commissioned in 1926 by Lord Leconfield's daughter, the Hon. Margaret Wyndham, who grew up at Petworth House and became a Lady-in-Waiting, first to Queen Mary and later to the young Queen Elizabeth.   The museum curator hopes that funding will be available for this magnificent painting (detail left) to be restored (donations welcomed).   A short piece about the map is due to appear in the April issue of Surrey Life magazine.  For museum opening times check the website:

Holy Trinity Church, Bothenhampton

Another mystery was solved this February.  Years ago  I read the following on the Dorset Historic Churches Trust website about Edward Prior's church of Holy Trinity in Bothenhampton: "The stone pulpit ... was encased in carved oak panelling by E.H.Gilbert of Bridport in 1904 to hide painted decoration by Macdonald Gill, whose work had ceased to find favour by then".  This always struck me as odd, not least because Max, 19 in October 1903, only started his career as an architect's assistant in London and had no known experience in mural painting.  Although no diary or ledger entry mentions the work , there are gaps, and it's possible it was done without payment as a favour to Prior, who had in the summer of 1903 given a lettering commission to his brother Eric Gill.  The late Cyril Kay, author of the Holy Trinity guide - and a meticulous researcher -  seemed certain that MacDonald Gill was the artist.  Describing the work as 'a rather bold exercise in Art Nouveau style' , he goes on to explain why the painting was covered up: 'Evidently it did not find general favour at the time'.  This February I visited Holy Trinity - a lovely and interesting church - and made contact with someone who has now sent me the only known colour image of this naïve, rather startling work.  Apart from a brief outing some years ago, the work remains tantalisingly concealed under the panelling. It remains a significant work as it is almost certainly Max's very first mural painting.  

Maps to buy

Osprey Books, which owns Shire/Old House, publishers of the excellent MacDonald Gill repro maps, has been taken over by Bloomsbury Publishing.  Sadly, it seems that most, if not all, the Max Gill maps are to be discontinued.  I have a limited number - if you'd like to buy one, then choose from the list below and send a cheque payable to 'Mrs Caroline Walker'  for £6.80 per map (£5 + £1.80 p&p) ¬to: 62 Tring Avenue, London W5 3QB, with a note of your name & address, which map(s) you want and if you want the rolled (R) or folded wallet version (W).

Wonderground Map (W or R)
Tea Revives the World (W or R)
Where our Tea comes from (W or R)
Theatreland (W only)
Highways of Empire (R only)
Mail Steamship Routes (W only)
Pratt's Map of European Aerodromes (W only)


The Wonderground map together with its pen-and-ink artwork will be on display at Kemistry Gallery's show 100 Years of Graphic Design from Saturday 7-  Sunday 15 March at the Protein Studios 31 New Inn Yard London EC2A 3EY                                             


The first of the year was in January to a full hall at the Highgate Literary and Scientific Association in North London.   There were lots of interesting questions and afterwards a chance to meet many of the audience over a glass of wine.  Two more talks are already confirmed - all are welcome:

Wednesday 11th March 7.30.  Acton History Group. St. Mary's Parish Hall, The Mount, Acton, London W3 (opposite Morrisons main entrance on the High Street). £2 for

Saturday  9th May 2pm Surrey & Sussex Branch of the British Printing Society. Merstham Village Hall, Station Road North, Merstham, Surrey. RH1 3ED.

Many people are eager to see another show of Max's work. So,  if you know of any venue that might be interested in hosting an exhibition, large or small, then do get in touch.