78 Derngate Archive

Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Rediscovered

31 Dec
David Walsh

Some of the Friends may have been alerted to the news in July that an amazing mural by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (CRM) that was thought to have been lost was re-discovered in Dysart Kirk, near Kirkcaldy, Fife, and the wall wasn’t just a whitewash.

The mural was painted in 1901 mostly in one of the favoured CRM greens and had been hidden from view for eighty odd years until the recent restoration work in the Kirk revealed that it was still very much in place. The detail of the design shows the tree of knowledge, three circles representing good, evil and eternity with the symbolic dove of peace. The main motifs are painted in green with some red and blue detailing and black edging.

We have reprinted here, with his kind permission, George Mcluskie’s photograph of the partly uncovered mural, and restorer Alan Ferdinand, that first appeared in The Glasgow Herald, July 23.

CRM was still with Honeyman and Keppie and their records show that he visited the Kirk in October 1901 and that he was paid £10 in fees for some ‘decorations’. It was thought that although the designs had been published in a German magazine in 1902 the subsequent ten layers of paint over the years on top of the mural had destroyed the ‘decorations’ until they were re-discovered by conservator Alan Ferdinand.

Dysart Kirk itself is undergoing restoration and once the conservation work on the mural is complete it is hoped that the church will be open to those who wish to see it, both as a testament of faith and an acknowledgement to those of the 1901 congregation who had the foresight to commission Mackintosh’s work.

First published in September 2004 in The Friends of 78 Derngate Newsletter Issue 31.
Transcribed 2018: Barbara Floyer