At the end of October MacDonald Gill: Charting his Age – the exhibition at Kelmarsh Hall – came to an end. It was sad to see the maps and other items packed away, not knowing when or where they’ll be on show again. 2017 has been another good year for Max with several of his works included in major exhibitions around the country. On display at Ditchling Museum of Arts & Crafts until March 2018 is a 1924 Wonderground Map of London Town alongside this portrait sketch of Max by his older brother Eric.
Edward Hunter and the Frensham Map
A while ago an enigmatic email led me to deepest Sussex in search of a ‘lost’ painted work. This turned out to be the panel map commissioned for Edward Hunter, owner and managing director of the printing firm Sun Engraving.
Painted in 1930, it shows the Surrey/Sussex countryside Hunter loved. Amongst the mass of detail is Hunter’s country home as well as Lloyd George’s house at nearby Churt. Interestingly, Max had painted a map for the former Prime Minister just a few years earlier (does anyone know where this is?).
The Frensham panel originally hung in the entrance hall next to a grandmother clock – also designed/painted by Max Gill. Decorative lettering on the top section of the dark green case cleverly entwines the initials of Hunter family members. Both the map and clock were displayed at the Arts & Crafts Exhibition of 1946. Hunter’s daughter Eileen left the clock to the V&A where it is kept in store. For many years it was thought to be the work of Eric Gill, but is now correctly attributed to younger brother Max.
In earlier years Hunter had also commissioned many works for Sun Engraving, including the firm’s sundial emblem. By the 1930s ‘the Sun’ was the largest magazine printer in the country, producing such titles as Vogue, Country Life and Picture Post.
Henry Akers Tablet
A further discovery was a modest metal plaque designed by Max to commemorate Henry Akers of Black Bourton in Oxfordshire. The tablet, located on the north nave wall of St Mary’s, a church best known for its remarkable medieval wall paintings and RAF graveyard, was the ‘thankoffering’, of ‘M’, presumably the Miss M. Simpson who paid for the plaque in 1915. Whoever this mysterious lady was, she clearly had a high opinion of this local philanthropist. I have also been unable to find out much about Henry Akers himself except that he lived in the local manor house.
I wish you all the best for a happy and peaceful 2018