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The Art of Genealogy update

Posted on May 12, 2013 at 10:20 AM

In my January blog I talked about commissioning a painting based on the family legend that my grandfather John McGee talked about when an artist came to Springside near Dreghorn in Ayrshire. The artist chose my grandfather to represent the wee boy having thistles pulled from his foot by an old man. This was the brand image for Isdale & McCallum's Paisley soap manufacturers, the Thistle Soap Company. If the painting was done it would have been about 1899-1900; however, the brand image can be dated back to a statue commissioned for the 1881 Glasgow Exhibition at Kelvingrove. The model for the wee boy was well documented on that occasion as Alexander Stirling Cross. Alexander S Cross later emigrated to New Zealand and was a merchant seaman. He joined up during WW1 and unfortunately lost his life in that conflict. Totally co-incidentally, my wife's great-grandfather was also called Alexander Cross, no relation to A S Cross, but his son Sgt John Alexander Cross MM died in WW2. I have now received my commissioned artwork called "Ye Maunna tramp on the Scotch thristle, laddie!" and it is a magnificent rendition by local artist Gordon Wilson of Fetch & Frame, Milngavie. Although, it is based on the perceived original painting I have incorporated my own subtle hidden messages. The modern version has the old man represented by my grandfather and myself as the wee boy; my grandfather is acting as my 'guardian angel' in this respect. Although the landscape is an eclectic impressionist modern take on an Ayrshire landscape by Gordon Wilson, it is based on photographs taken at Springside looking towards the dark silhouette of Arran. Arran is known as the "Sleeping Warrior" and again this represents my dead grandfather who fought as Corporal John McGhee (Army mis-spelling) 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders. In a sense it could also represent Alexander Stirling Cross, who indeed fell for his country. I asked Gordon Wilson to add poppies and thistles in the foreground; again this represents the fallen soldiers of WW1, the Scottish combatants and Scotland as a nation in general. Check out Gordon's work at www.gordonwilsonart.com

 

Categories: Genealogy

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