The Real McKay: A Tribute

The Real McKay

This blog post has been on my mind for a while. I’ve never had to compose a tribute about someone before. Today would have been my aunt’s birthday so it’s fitting I write it today. My Aunt Angela passed away at the beginning of the year. This blog post is dedicated to her, The Real McKay.

Angela was a creative person, working primarily as an illustrator. She moved from Glasgow to London in her 20s and then soon after made Brighton her home. She used ‘The Real McKay’ as a logo/brand name.

Unfortunately, a few things obstructed the family from being a regular part in Angela’s life. This meant my relationship with Angela was surprisingly new. Having only seen her twice when I was young, I was thrilled when she called out of the blue last year.

Angela had only been in contact for about six months before she passed away. In that time we encouraged each other as we began new freelance jobs; shared a love of travel and talked about our family history. We texted recent photos of one another and followed each other on Instagram. She even illustrated on my blog! A highlight was a spontaneous yet brief meeting in person whilst Dad and I picked my brother up from University. It felt like a long lost family reunion.

Angela’s will is a short and sweet one. As a creative your online portfolio, blog, website and domain name only stays viewable and yours for as long as money is being paid into it. What happens when you die? The sad truth is all your work will disappear if you don’t take precautions to keep it safe after you’ve gone. This means her website and domain name might be gone in less than a years’ time. Her little space on the internet will vanish. It’s a shame to think that small creatives don’t get the same opportunities to inspire after they die like the famous do. So, I’m using my platform to showcase some of Angela’s work.

The Real McKay

House of Fraser summer window display.


Angela’s work for House of Fraser was in 57 stores in the UK.


Here’s a list of clients Angela worked with:

Molton Brown, Allan Fuller Estate Agents, Kimpton Creative, London Magazine, Country Homes & Interiors Magazine, Grand Tour Magazine, selvedge magazine, Random House Publishing, Quarto Publishing, Smithsonian Magazine, English Garden Magazine, RPS Publishing, House of Fraser, Angel + Blume, House & Garden Magazine, Countryfile Magazine, I.B.Tauris Publishing.

Angela even illustrated a book cover which I still think is amazing!


Smithsonian Magazine June 2013 Astronaut food article teaming up with NY photographer David Arky.


The Real McKay

On visits to Angela’s home I was able to see and learn more about my Aunt. Firstly, I didn’t realise how much photography she once did. Finding her negative book and folders made me think about the discovery of photographer Vivian Maier. Like Maier, Angela had a quirky fashion taste, was quiet in nature and she even once worked as a babysitter. There was a huge wooden antique set of drawers for maps or drawings in the front room where Angela kept most of her illustrations. We also found many boxes full of sketch books.

Phoenix Open Studios 2012 from hugh fox on Vimeo.


I’ve learnt that Angela had many creative interests. Not only did she enjoy photography, but she also liked making videos and writing poems and lyrics. Gardening was a big hobby of hers too. Angela also loved comedy and had a desire to try stand up. She told me how much she loves to laugh and how Billy Connolly is her favourite. He is my favourite too. It’s funny and nice to discover similarities with a family member.

Housekeeping Pigeon


Swan Lake


For now, this is my way of paying a virtual tribute for my Aunt on what would have been her 57th Birthday.

A friend of Angela’s shared an email conversation a few months ago. It’s poignant and makes sense I finish the blog post with a thought/quote by The Real McKay.

“Sometimes I think of all the amazing artistic people whose work has been chucked out and destroyed. I remember one female artist who died, can’t remember her name, whose work was burned by her husband who didn’t think it was important! And to think this must happen so often as art, especially by women, is considered by non-artists as having no value.

I also think of war and the millions that die needlessly who are artists who never get to fulfil their potential. The pure waste. And also the scientists, inventors, pioneers, architects, geniuses that never live on. Creativity is so fragile. What with all those talented people, I think like an iceberg we all only see the tip.” – Angela McKay

Angela McKay

Photo Taken By Sally Bream.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Bill Parslow
    28th September 2018 at 10:20

    Hi – this is a lovely tribute to Angela – it was a real shock to read of her death in the paper and realise that’s why we hadn’t seen her for so long. My wife Janice and I had known Angela for many years – in fact just before she moved into her flat in Springfield Road in 2004 she lived with us for a few months – and I have to say it was a very happy harmonious few months – Angela adapted to living in a busy family house with two boisterous teenage boys very well indeed! It was such a pleasure to have her as a long term guest. I’m hoping to come to the Memorial service later this morning so perhaps will speak with you there.
    Bill Parslow

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