'Colours of Gray' (The Herald, 14/04/2009)

One of Scotland’s most celebrated living painters yesterday began the painstaking process of restoring his mural The Falls of the Clyde, which for a decade languished behind layers of wallpaper in a Lanarkshire pub.

Dressed in blue overalls, Alasdair Gray, now 74, said he was “not depressed at all” by the recovery of the work. “I knew it had been papered over and hoped that it would still be under there somewhere,” he said, “And it was, in just the bad condition I expected.”

Best known for his novel Lanark and his mural on the ceiling of Glasgow’s Oran Mor, Gray slept on the floor of the pub for the 10 days it took to complete the original work. But that was a long time ago. Forty years on, he and his assistant are taking things a little slower.

“My wife worries about my health now, so we get picked up in the morning and are back home in time for dinner,” he said. “For some reason she doesn’t like the idea of me sleeping in an empty pub at my age.”

The 4ft by 25ft landscape was rediscovered by new bar owner Andy Boyle during renovations to The Riverside, in Kirkfieldbank.

Mr Boyle looked for a restorer, and finding one who happened to know Gray personally, quickly made contact with him. Speaking as he watched Gray at work, Mr Boyle said: “We are so delighted that he agreed; it is just too good a painting not to bring back to life.”