Monday, August 23, 2010

Lees's painting update

I was pleased to read this announcement on the Royal Club website when I got home this afternoon:

Update: Charles Lees Painting
By Willie Nicoll

Following a discussion at the ASC and taking into account the sentiments expressed in the e-mails submitted by the members, the Board has decided not to put the Charles Lees Painting up for auction in December. The Board will now explore what possibilities may exist to raise sufficient funds to have the picture restored and put on display.

I am heartened by this, however concise the content. But I am ever the pessimist and, I suspect that, although those who wish the painting to be retained as an asset by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club may have won the first skirmish, there will be many battles ahead in the future of this iconic painting.

The first problem is in keeping interest in the painting alive, and bringing together members who have the time and inclination to work for the painting's future. I gather that the initial efforts may come from the Areas Standing Committee. I hope the Ladies' Branch will have input to make too. I'll try keep you updated with regular posts here. Let's hope that there will really be a group, 'The Friends of the Grand Match Painting', willing to help the Board's efforts.

Firstly, I need your help. The image above comes from David B Smith's book, Curling: An Illustrated History, which was published in 1981. It's the only image I have of the full painting.

Has anyone a photo of the painting in recent years, perhaps when it was at Scone Palace, or hanging in the RCCC offices at Coates Crescent and Great King Street? Has it been reproduced anywhere else?

A large engraving of the painting was made in the nineteenth century, and there should be many copies. Does anyone know where one still exists? Perhaps someone has a photo of the engraving?

A print of Charles Lees's Grand Match painting was sold at the historical exhibition which accompanied the 1975 Silver Broom World Championship in Perth. This was much smaller than the original, at 27 by 20 inches. I actually owned one of these prints, although it was a poor representation of the original, and it faded badly over the years. Does anyone still have a print on their wall?

Robin Welsh used Lees's image for the Scottish Curler Christmas card in 1975. Does one survive anywhere?

Tonight I am pleased to learn that I'm not the only one who sees the value in retaining the painting, and a 'well done' to everyone who has lobbied the Board and its chairman with their views. And it is good that Willie Nicoll and the directors have listened.