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Friday, 12 July 2013

Gavin Alston, Mural Painter (1926 - 1963)

Gavin Alston, Self-Portrait, pen and ink, c. 1955
Gavin Alston, Self-Portrait, pen and ink, c. 1955
Gavin Alston, Self-Portrait, pen and ink, c. 1955

I have become more and more aware that there is growing interest in the field of 20th century mural painting. In Salisbury, where I now live, there is currently an exhibition of Rex Whistler, English painter, illustrator and muralist. Brian Sewell noted in tonight’s Evening Standard (11.7.13) that the current exhibition on Mexican Art at the RA is sadly lacking the work of the Muralists, who were undeniably the life force of revolutionary Mexican art in the first half of the 20th century.

 My uncle, Gavin Alston, trained in Mural Design at Glasgow School of Art  (1946-1950) and completed several murals in and around Glasgow, at Crossmyloof Skating rink, Kingsridge Secondary and The Curlers bar. His murals have long since gone, the skating rink and the school both demolished. The paintings from The Curlers removed and currently to be found in Oran Mor are not by his hand, but by his friend Fyffe Christie. He also painted and exhibited at the Glasgow Institute and Royal Scottish Academy exhibitions. The poet, Sydney Goodsir Smith, wrote movingly about his work in newspapers at the time. 

Gavin was inspired by the art of Whistler and the Mexican muralists, and more besides.  He died untimely, aged 37 and his work and talent has, until now, been forgotten. In this blog I will begin to catalogue some of his work.


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