The loss of the Mauleverer Road Mural

In February 2014, the fate of the Mauleverer Road Mural was sealed when it was decided at the planning appeal that the developers of the Mauleverer Road site could go ahead and remove one half of the mural. The retention of the locally listed artwork had been supported by Lambeth but at appeal level, the developers had a large team with a range of arguments that they could use against anything that the council or those attending the appeal could present as a reason to keep the mural.

Brixton Mural Walk 2012

The LMPS attended the appeal as we felt it was important to support the retention of the mural. The beautifully executed mural shows four different scenes: a view of woodlands, a bandstand with a Caribbean scene, a walled garden and some horses; most of these subjects are connected to the area’s local history. Compared to some of London’s better known murals of the period such as Brixton’s Nuclear Dawn mural, it contains no political messages. However it is a good example of a Community Mural; these artworks tended to involve community participation often in the design development stages.

Community Murals, which can be considered to be a separate artistic movement of the 1970s and 1980s, evolved from the practices of the Community Arts movement. For many community art workers, their job was to take art out to people, often in marginalised communities, to provide an opportunity for self-expression. There were varying degrees of input from local people, often dependent on the views of the artists leading the project.

For those working on the Mauleverer Road Mural, ideas were provided by the local residents and the artist, Jane Gifford, created a design which was approved by the community. The wall was repaired by Jane with the assistance of Ruth Blench, Caroline Thorp and Mick Harrison before work could be started on the painting. Once the wall was in a good condition, come rain or shine, the painting began.

The woodland area was perhaps the most complex to get right as it covered a large area. The design was divided into four parts, the artwork divided into a grid to correspond to grids drawn on the wall and the artists each worked on one section of the wall, square by square. As all artists have their own style of painting, they realised that if they each remained on just one section of the woodland scene, it would be obvious that there were four different artists painting the mural. To counteract this problem, they swapped the sections they were working on so that the layers of paint and brush strokes by the different muralists created a unified whole. The exceptional skills of these people as artists and muralists are identified by the quality of the finished work. The photograph below which pins together a series of photos shows the excellence of the artwork. Click it to get a closer view.

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When this work is finally demolished, not only will we lose an example of community arts but we lose one that is part of what has become known as the Brixton Murals. This group of paintings shows the work of eighteen muralists, mostly working as teams. It reveals different styles, approaches and contents and although many in the area are already gone, those remaining give a feel of what it must have been like to be surrounded by this type of artwork. Not only do these remaining murals tell us about art in the 1980s and the artists involved, they reveal stories about the local community, whether a reflection of the area’s general history or more specific requests for example, the wish of local people to see a picture of the River Effra in their neighbourhood.

There is an increasing interest in the work of community artists but by the time this is more mainstream, it will be too late for the Mauleverer Road Mural. Do visit the mural before it goes.

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Ray Walker’s Bow Mission Mural Damaged

Earlier this year we were informed that girders had been placed across Ray Walker’s Bow Mission mural. We took a trip into the East End last week to assess the damage.

The Bow Mission Mural was the first solo mural designed and painted by Ray Walker. Created in 1978, it shows the activities of the local community in their daily lives.

The mural is divided into different sections, each telling a different story, and is reminiscent of Renaissance church frescoes where each panel tells a separate tale. By comparing it to the Hackney Peace Carnival mural in Dalston, it is noticeable that Walker’s work moves from portraying many stories on one wall to creating a singular composition telling one story across the painted area.

This mural reveals something about the artist’s work and the local history of the area; however, its importance lies in the fact that it is Walker’s only remaining mural which he painted and designed as a solo artist. On visiting the mural, we can see two girders cutting across the top of the painting and the upper section has been painted out. Red filler has been used to seal the cracks on the render.

Although the damage is bad and it is unlikely that there is a simple solution to resolving the problem of having two girders across the composition, there is still the possibility of finding a positive outcome to repair what remains. We will investigate and keep you posted.

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Highbury Grove Mural Destroyed

Every year we know of two or three murals which are demolished. Most of the destruction happens because the mural is sited on a building which is about to be pulled down due to redevelopment. A few are lost due to circumstance; for example, the Tramshed Mural by Greenwich Mural Workshop was destroyed in the 2011 riots in Woolwich .

So we were sad to learn of the destruction of the Highbury Grove Mural in north London which was removed by the housing department of Islington council. This was in error as the arts department were to raise funds to repair the mural with the assistance of two of the original artists, Diana Leary and Karen Gregory.

The Highbury Grove Mural

The Highbury Grove Mural

The mural, painted in 1987, was created by Dave Bangs and featured wild plants and insects found in the surrounding Islington area. It also featured portraits of some of the people who were attending the school at the time. During the past few years, members of the local Highbury community have emailed the London Mural Preservation Society (LMPS) about the mural’s situation as they were aware that the painting was very faded and this could lead to its destruction in an attempt to improve the appearance of an area. However the local Liberal Democrats have been keen to see the mural repaired and last year we met to discuss plans for the painting’s repair.

Local residents are feeling pretty upset about the loss of this wonderful artwork but things might not be too bleak. According to the Islington Gazette, the council have vowed to replace the mural. Hopefully this means the repainting of the original design rather than the creation of a new piece. The artists would like a particular type of render to be used on the site so that the mural can be repainted in Keim paint which should keep it in a good condition for many decades.

We are hoping that funding can be found to make this happen and that the council fully understands the value of this particular murals. If you want to support the campaign to get it reinstated, please sign this petition.

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Review of the Year: 2013

Yes a little late but as I say better late than never! So last year was as jam packed as 2012. So let’s take a look at what happened!

Nuclear Dawn Mural

The beginning of the year was met with concerns about the preservation of the Nuclear Dawn Mural on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton. The mural is situated on the side of Carlton Mansion which will be repaired for use as part of the Somerleyton Road development. The car park next to the mural will be the new home for the Oval House Theatre. It is part of the site’s brief that Lambeth would like to retain the mural.

Nuclear  Dawn, Coldharbour Lane

Nuclear Dawn, Coldharbour Lane

Although they are keen to keep it, the language of the Lambeth’s proposal has always been loose and makes no promise that the repair and retention of the mural is a definite. With this in mind, the LMPS decided to create a petition to show local public support, something that was felt key to deciding whether the mural is preserved, and an application for listing was also handed to English Heritage who are still thinking about listing it. The proposal was supported by the Centre for British Archaeology and the 20th Century Society.

The petition attracted over 1000 signatures and can be found here. While we wait for decisions to be made, the condition of the mural is getting worst. Let’s hope a clear action plan is developed.

Mauleverer Road Mural

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Last chance to see the Mauleverer Road Mural

In the summer, it came to our attention that a planning application had been put in to demolish half of the Mauleverer Road mural to create a row of houses. This was campaigned against with the help of original artist Jane Gifford, Mick Harrison and Caroline Thorp, local residents, Nicky Bradbury, Charlie Ward, Keiran, Vivienne and the Brixton Society. An article in the South London Press, the Brixton Bugle and the Brixton Buzz hi-lighted the situation and the planning application was thoughtfully opposed. Lambeth planners recognised this and refused planning permission. The site developers put in an appeal which was heard in 2014. Unfortunately, the developers won and we await to hear when demolition starts.

Hackney Peace Carnival Mural in Dalston

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Paul Butler at the Battle of Cable Street Mural in 2012

A decision was made by Hackney Council to get the Hackney Peace Carnival Mural repaired. Hirst conservation and Paul Butler are currently working on the repair. Although this is great news for the mural, the lack of local community involvement exploring the heritage of the mural and encouraging local care of the piece is likely to mean that the graffiti at the bottom will continue to grow.

The Great Wave Mural

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What an excellent repair!

Damaged in 2012, a plan was hatched to repair the Great Wave Mural in Camberwell. A dedicated team led by Vinnie O’Connell from New Leaf, braved the cold weather to repair and repaint the piece, returning it to it’s former glory. Dulux donated the paint and many artists gave their time.

Stockwell Memorial Mural

Your Mural Needs You! Brian Barnes at work on the Stockwell Memorial Mural

Brian Barnes at work on the Stockwell Memorial Mural

Repairing the mural at Stockwell took up much of the summer. After some discussion with Lambeth and a plan and budget put forward, we were given the go ahead to repair the mural with the assistance of the Friends of Stockwell Memorial (FSM). Artist Brian Barnes was employed along with artist Morganico to do the repair work. The initial start of the project was delayed due to wintery weather. Once it was warm, the surface was repaired, holes filled, walls cleans and flaking paint removed. This did mean that vast areas had to be taken away as the paint was about to fall away from the mural. Much of this work was done by the volunteers. A scaffold was erected to repair the higher parts of the mural and construct a safe place to work from.

Several different volunteer painting days were held as the artists continued to work on the highest part of the mural. Volunteers continued to spend their weekends working on the mural. A date was set for an opening, which was organised, along with a plaque, by the LMPS and FSM.

Mural Walks

Two Brixton Mural walks were carried out in 2013. One was part of the Lambeth Local History forum walks which appears as on a leaflet available in local libraries and handed out by local societies. The other walk was part of the Lambeth Heritage Festival. Both were very well attend though we were also lucky enough to have good weather.

Lost Murals

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Crossing the Red Sea when it was originally painted.

Train from the Battersea Mural Puzzle

2013 witnessed the end of the Battersea puzzle mural, Plough Road, Battersea and the Crossing the Red Sea Mural on Old Ford Road, in East London. Both sites were marked for new development. This is the biggest threat to London’s remaining murals over the next few years.

So, as you can see it was busy! So many murals to look after, so little time! A huge thank you to all those involved in 2013 : Ben, Gillian, Hannah, Hilary, Hilary, Sylvie, Reuben, Saskia, the Friends of Stockwell Memorial and Gardens especially Naomi, the many people who gave their time to repair Stockwell, Brian Barnes and Morganico, Brixton Society especially Vivienne and Bill, Jane Gifford, Caroline Thorp and Mick Harrison, Nicky Bradbury, Keiran and Charlie.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer to help record the murals, save the murals, find the murals, promote the murals and anything else, then please get in touch.

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Planned Repair of the Lambeth Walk Murals!

Earlier this year we got the exciting news, that plans were afoot to repair the murals on the Lambeth Walk.  Creative Sparkworks  and Ethelred TMO are working to repair the artworks which consist of five paintings on boards which were created in the early 1980s by muralists, Gordon Wilkinson and Sarah Faulkner. Each mural shows a different aspect of Lambeth Walk life, from the women artists at the Lambeth Doulton factory, the local stars of the music hall to life on the busy market street of Lambeth Walk.

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To mark the beginning of their project, an event will be held on 24th May from 12pm to 2pm outside the murals which are located on Lambeth Walk. There will be a chance to learn about the history of the area, hear some music hall songs, have some pie and mash and meet the original artists.

Hope to see you there!

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Stockwell Memorial Mural Restoration by Ruth Miller

Apologies for the general quietness on the blog. We have been working away on lots of different things, trying to keep murals in their communities so that the next generation can enjoy them!

Back to the subject of the title! Spring and summer has been spent repairing and repainting the Stockwell Memorial Mural.  The mural is painted onto a rotunda that covers the entrance to one of south London’s deep level shelters. The last few years had seen an increase of deterioration particularly on the top part of the structure. There was also water damage from ineffective drainage causing the growth of moss and damage to the bricks and mortar. On close inspection it really was a sorry state.

Looking worn out (Photo:Ruth Miller)

So with a team of volunteers, original artist Brian Barnes and assistant Morganico, work started by removing flaking paint, filling holes and treating as much damage as possible. The first few sessions were in the snow as the end of March and proved to be exceptionally cold; we only lasted 30 minutes before we had to give up! Volunteers from the Friends of Stockwell War Memorial and Gardens were there week in, week out slogging away at all the work that needed doing.

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In the Snow! (Photo: Ruth Miller)

Spring turned into summer. Paint scrapers were swapped for paint brushes. A scaffold went up around the structure and Brian and Morgan beavered away at the top part of the mural. More paint fell away from the surface and large sections had to be re-drawn. Slowly the patterns, faces and colours reappeared around the top part of the rotunda.

Brian Barnes (Photo: Naomi L Klein)

Six weeks later the scaffold came down. And the workers continued on the bottom. We held a paint a poppy day where young and old painted a poppy. More volunteers arrived rallied by the call of Naomi Klein of the Friends of Stockwell memorial and Gardens. She was a huge assistance to this repair helping pick up the paint from the supplier, rally the team and support the London Mural Preservation Society in making sure it all ticked over.

Paint a Poppy Day (Photo: Naomi L Klein)

Lots of people popped down to visit the works as spring moved into summer and still the artists and volunteers pushed on with trying to finish the undertaking. From the extremes of the cold spring to the furious heat of the summer,  the volunteers were really asked to show their dedication.

Painting the large poppy (Photo: Saskia Walzel)

Catherine, Nicola and particularly Saskia turned up again and again to support the work being undertaken.  The last push to get the remaining work done was encourage by Saskia as the last weekends of summer started to go and it was now a race against the approaching autumn and the potential for rain!

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Nearly finished (Photo: Ruth Miller)

September came and Naomi and myself planned an opening event. The Mayor was invited to unveil a plaque to mark not just the repair of the mural but also the repair of the World War One memorial next to it. This was something important to local residents particularly to the families of those people listed on the memorial.

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Violette Szabo Panel (Photo: Saskia Walzel)

The finishing touches to the mural were added the evening before the event, the plaque was put up and everything was ready to go.

Saturday 14th September, the plaque was unveiled by the Mayor of Lambeth Cllr Mark Bennett who gave an interesting speech about the local history of the area and the memorial. A small crowd turned up either linked to the memorial or to the work on the mural. The rain held off though we could have sheltered under the gazebo kindly lent to us by the Brixton Society who also supplied some photos of what the area originally looked like.

Speeches (Photo:Naomi L Klein)

It’s a good day when you know another mural enjoyed by the community has been repaired. Maybe it’ll even inspire some people to go and paint more murals.

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Stockwell Memorial Mural Restoration – Volunteers Day, Sunday 19th May, 9am – 3pm

Your Mural Needs You! Brian Barnes at work on the Stockwell Memorial Mural

Your Mural Needs You! Brian Barnes at work on the Stockwell Memorial Mural. Photo by Ben Kaufmann

Since that snowy Easter weekend preparing the Stockwell Memorial Mural for restoration much headway has been made. Whilst the walls were in fairly rough and crumbling shape, anyone who has headed down the South Lambeth Road of late will testify that the Mural is now shaping up; the restored colours adding a real punch to the original design. With the help of Morganic, French filmmaker Julien Ferdinande and a sprinkling of volunteers, Brian Barnes’ restoration of the 1999 mural is progressing well, but we would like to put out a call for volunteers for this Sunday 19th May, to help us progress with the lower rotunda and in particular the poppies.

Brian Barnes at work on Stockwell Memorial Mural, May 2013

Brian Barnes at work on Stockwell Memorial Mural, May 2013. Photo by Ben Kaufmann

The Stockwell Memorial was erected in 1919 in memory of the 600 local men who died during the First World War. As Barnes explains in this recent film by Julien Ferdinande, his 1999 design for the Memorial Mural allocated one poppy to every two men killed in the conflict – with a total of 300 poppies across the mural. This Sunday, therefore, we would like to invite volunteers to come along and help us pay tribute to those killed in the war and paint a poppy.

Brian Barnes, painting Van Gogh's sky at Stockwell Memorial Mural, May 2013

Brian Barnes, painting Van Gogh’s sky at Stockwell Memorial Mural, May 2013. Photo by Ben Kaufmann

Please reply to stockwellmemorialfriends@gmail.com if you are able to help. Wear old clothes, bring paintbrushes (variety of widths if you can), some brush cleaner (if you can), and rags. Don’t worry if you don’t have all this – come anyway!

Supervised children are welcome.

Brian Barnes at Stockwell Memorial Rotunda, May 2013

Brian Barnes at Stockwell Memorial Rotunda, May 2013. Photo by Ben Kaufmann

The London Mural Preservation Society is delighted to see another mural repaired. We have been involved with Lambeth Council and Friends of the Stockwell Memorial from the beginning of the process and look forward to seeing the outcome of the repair work to both the memorial and mural.

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Links

For more information on the Stockwell Memorial Mural please see our website page or past blog post

For more information on Brian Barnes please see here

For more information on recent restorations please see the Great Wave Mural Restoration Video or our post on the Windmill Mural restoration

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