'Uncovered mural to be restored by its creator' (The Herald, 13/04/2009)

A mural by one of Scotland’s most celebrated living painters and writers is to be restored by its creator it after it was discovered behind layers of wallpaper in a bar.

The Falls of Clyde was one of Alasdair Gray’s earliest murals, painted for what was then the Tavern Kirkfieldbank, but it was covered in wall-paper, paint and light fittings more than a decade ago, it emerged at the weekend.

Now Gray is to begin a 10-day project to bring the mural back to life after being persuaded to do so by the Lanarkshire bar’s new owner.

Gray - best known for his novel Lanark and a mural in Glasgow’s Oran Mor bar - was initially commissioned to paint The Falls of Clyde 40 years ago.

The mural, which is 4ft high and more than 25ft long, is said to be the only one he has painted of a real landscape outside Glasgow.

The painter was reunited with his work after being contacted by businessman Andy Boyle, who refurbished and reopened the premises as The Riverside Bar and Restaurant, along the New Lanark and Falls of Clyde Walk.

Mr Boyle said: “When I moved to the village a year ago I visited the Tavern, which was in a state of disrepair, but I was intrigued when I caught a glimpse of some artwork hidden away in the lounge.

“The then-landlord said that some guy called Gray had painted it on the wall and that they had discovered it after stripping wallpaper in 2006. It had been covered in wallpaper and paint for over 10 years.

“I began to see the potential of the mural and the location, allied to developing a quality food and drink offer, and expressed an interest to the landlord.”

He added: “We believe the mural is an invaluable piece of Scottish art history.”

When Mr Boyle was looking for someone to repair the damaged wall and prepare the mural for repainting, it turned out that the restorer he contacted had links to Gray through a friend.

During his time in The Riverside, the artist will concentrate on two parts of the mural that had been totally destroyed.

Gray said: “I tried to make this long, narrow mural combine many views of the Clyde gorge from Bonnington Lynn, down to Cora Lynn and New Lanark, being well aware that these falls had been painted by many greater landscape artists, including Turner.

Gray is expected to begin restoration work on the mural today.

The Business Gateway’s Lanarkshire office is advising The Riverside Bar on marketing the premises and the mural.