A FAMOUS mural thought lost after decades of searching failed to find any trace of it has been brought back to Glasgow.

Christ Feeding the People, which was painted by Glasgow School of Art graduate Fyffe Christie in 1951, will now go on display in the city for the first time in 40 years.

Glasgow Times:

The groundbreaking work of art, which is almost 10-metres wide and two-and-a-half-metres high, comprises scenes of ordinary Glasgow family life - a mother bathing a baby, a woman baking, a labourer returning from work - with the figure of Christ standing among them.

Govan couple Molly and John Harvey traced the artwork, which has now been purchased by Govan Heritage Trust for display at the former Govan Old Church, where there are ambitious plans to transform the A-listed building into a £5.9m tourist attraction.

Trustee Pat Cassidy said: “This is a fantastic acquisition and will enhance what Govan Old has to offer.

"I’m sure people will come here just to see the Fyffe Christie mural. It’s an asset which will enrich the exceptional artefacts already on display, including the Govan Stones, a rare collection of early medieval sculptures as important as those celebrated nationally at Iona, St Andrews and Whithorn.”

The genesis of the Fyffe Christie mural lies in work for social justice in 20th century Glasgow, explains Pat, and exposition of the appalling conditions many people were living in.

“For more than 25 years, the mural hung in a busy public canteen at the IC base in Clyde Street until the building was demolished in 1977, when it went into storage,” explained Pat.

“A few years on it made a brief appearance at an art exhibition in Edinburgh before disappearing altogether and being lost. Then in 1998 it was spotted in the hands of an Oxford art dealer who had bought it auction, but who then went on to sell it to a person unknown.”

Rumour had it that it had been exported to America, and in 2017, it was finally traced to an art dealer living in Canada.

“That it was traced at all is the triumph of a small group of people led by Molly and John, who both have strong Govan connections. 

"John was a minister at Govan Old in the 1980s and Molly’s father was an assistant minister to George MacLeod in the 1930s,” Pat added.

“It was their tireless commitment and clever detective work over a period of 30 years that finally led them to Canada.

“They saw Govan as a fitting home if the mural could be recovered and asked us to become involved in bringing it back. That only became possible thanks to a generous benefactor.”

The painting will now go into storage while funds are raised for its conservation.

Glasgow Times:

The Govan Old site dates back to the sixth century or earlier, and is one of the most ancient Christian settlements in the west of Scotland, and the oldest known place of Christian worship on the Clyde.

“We are building regeneration plans around that rich heritage and look forward to the day when tens of thousands will travel here to enjoy Govan for the remarkable place it is,” said Pat.

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“We have completed our first phase of works and are today launching a public appeal to help get the next phase under way, an extension building providing facilities that will allow the former church to function better as a venue and museum.”

The trust has already raised £1.85m of the £2.2m target and is calling for donations. Visit the website thegovanstones.org.uk for more information.