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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Murals at Crossmyloof Skating Rink, c. 1949

Gavin Alston and Fyffe Christie complete paintings on the walls of the spectators gallery at Crossmyloof Ice Rink, Glasgow.


This newspaper cutting, from The Bulletin  (a Glasgow newspaper) September 1949, shows Gavin Alston ( on the left), holding a palette and brushes, looking on at Fyffe Christie, (on the right), with his pipe in mouth and mahl stick in one hand and paint brush in the other, at work on a set of four murals for the skating rink at Crossmyloof, in Glasgow. Some young skaters are watching work in progress. The murals were located in the spectator gallery above the main rink.

According to the article the four wall paintings included  a scene of  ‘Curling in the Georgian Period‘ and  one of ‘Skating in the Victorian Period.’ As can be glimpsed in this black and white photograph the imagery of this particular mural was strongly figurative. It is an  outdoor scene of people, wearing what looks more like contemporary dress rather than Victorian or Georgian, skating on an icy covered lake (?). Some figures, female and male, form a chain, clasping each other around the waist, they seem unsteady on their skates. One girl, in the middle ground, with her back to us, appears to glide with more ease. A dark tree breaks the flatness and monotony of the white skating rink-like-pond with it's curvilinear branches and snow covered roots. It adds depth to the composition, creating a foreground space for other figures, not participating in the skating, to be placed. Fyffe Christie is shown painting this mural. I think that the figures of the skaters shown in this photograph are not by Gavin's hand. These figures are willowy and slightly weightless. Gavin's figures are almost always more robust and have greater structure. However, the tree motif as a central compostional device, both creating space and as a design feature recurs in much of Gavin's work. Perhaps these murals were conceived jointly.

Both Gavin and Fyffe Christie were students at Glasgow School of Art at the time of this article, in the Mural Design Department.  


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