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The legacy of MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill – maps, murals and master of lettering

Thursday 25 February 2021

Detail from a section of the Wonderground Map of London 1914 by MacDonald Gill

About this event

Max Gill … belongs to a rich chapter in the history of English art and design that is all too often over-looked in our enthusiasm for the rise of the adventurous but clinical modern, which (all too quickly) overtook it.’   (The Art Newspaper, 23 October 2020)

Caroline Walker, great-niece of MacDonald ‘Max’ Gill and author of MacDonald Gill: Charting a Life  (Unicorn Publishing, 2020) celebrates the artistic legacy of this versatile and multi-talented artist. Max Gill was architect, draughtsman, letterer, mural-painter, and standout mapmaker-artist. Rooted in the Arts & Crafts tradition, his versatile artistic output aimed to make the simple and ordinary beautiful and useful.

‘Max’ Gill, younger brother of the sculptor and typographer Eric Gill was. Now considered to be one of the most important map designers of his time, Max Gill also worked with many eminent architects including Edwin Lutyens, producing painted maps for Arts & Crafts houses including Lindisfarne Castle, and magnificent murals for Cunard liners and churches (such as a ceiling decoration on the subject of The Creation for the chancel for St Andrew’s Church in Roker, Sunderland.

Less known is MacDonald Gill’s wide array of graphic work including magazine and book covers, publicity material, heraldry, logos and letterheads for organisations such as Rolls Royce and Sun Engraving. Underpinning every design was elegant lettering – the influence of classes with his calligrapher friend Edward Johnston – and he soon became sought after as a memorial designer. His most enduring legacy to commemorative design, however, is the alphabet (and regimental badges) he created for the Imperial War Graves Commission at the end of the First World War, still used on British military headstones today.

About our speaker

Caroline Walker is the grand-daughter of Evan Gill, brother of MacDonald and Eric Gill. Caroline became fascinated in the life and work of her great-uncle ‘Max’ in 2006. At that time she knew little about him and there was little information in the public domain. Since then she has pieced together a detailed picture of his life and uncovered a body of work remarkable for its quality, quantity and diversity.

Caroline has co-curated many exhibitions – the most recent was Max Gill: Wonderground Man at the Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft in Sussex. She has also written articles for a wide range of publications including Country Life magazine and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. An accredited lecturer for The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) since 2016, Caroline has given talks for many other societies and institutions around the country including Letter Exchange, U3A, the Art Workers’ Guild and Christie’s. She also runs the MacDonald Gill website.

Register for this event

This talk is free for SDS members. For non-members, the ticket cost is £10 per person. To join our Zoom talk, please get in touch with our administrator Kate at for the event link, ID, and password.

[Update 24/02/2021: on this occasion, the main talk/presentation will not be recorded, although the end Q&A session will be.]


Via Zoom


25 Feb 2021 18:00

Price : £10.00

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