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 mural. 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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Hands on Brixton! Windmill Gardens Community Mural, by Gillian Da Costa

The Brixton Windmill Gardens Mural, in progress. Photograph by Camila Cardenosa

The Brixton Windmill Gardens Mural, in progress. Photograph by Camila Cardenosa

If you visit the Brixton Windmill Gardens over the next few days, you’ll see Camila Cardenosa busy at work adding finishing touches to the Hands On Windmill Gardens Community Mural. She’ll welcome you with a smile, offer you a paintbrush if you’re willing to give it a go, and let you know that it’s easy and you don’t have to worry about making a mistake. All of these being things you want to hear when putting a brush to work; because it’s scary, and you’re obviously no good at this, and you’re bound to make a big mess (that’s what everyone says).

But Camila’s got a friendly convincing way about her, that will have you painting away in no time.

Windmill Gardens, Photograph by Owen Llewellyn

Windmill Gardens, Photograph by Owen Llewellyn

Columbian by origin, Camila is currently studying Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins and her focus is on examining how graphics can contribute to giving people a better sense of place and identity within public spaces. This mural is part of her final year project and has turned out to be an amazing collaboration, bringing together the Friends of Windmill Gardens and the members of the local community of all age groups.

Painting the Windmill Gardens Mural, Photograph by Camila Cardenosa

Painting the Windmill Gardens Mural, Photograph by Camila Cardenosa

While designing the mural, Camila and Stephen Lawlor, a visual artist and Education Officer for the Brixton Windmill, conducted several workshops with local schools and adult groups, so that the mural could be designed around the history of the windmill, how the local community relates to the it and their hopes for the gardens in the years to come. The final design for the mural comes from the fonts, imagery and text that emerged from these workshops, and added value has been worked into it so it can be used as a visual aid to tell the story of the miller and the historic windmill.

Painting, photograph by Camila Cardenosa

Painting, photograph by Camila Cardenosa

The mural is longer than it is taller, and has been designed in such a way that the parts closer to the ground are highly illustrative, thus giving younger people a chance to play an important role in the painting. At the same time, the fact that it is being hand painted ensures that everyone can be involved.

Photograph by Camila Cardenosa

Photograph by Camila Cardenosa

It has taken months of coordination, unpredictable weather, many painstaking hours of painting, and the ideas and efforts of over 200 Brixtonians, for Camila and her team to bring this project together. And finally the finish line is near.

One for the future. Photograph by Camila Cardenosa.

One for the future. Photograph by Camila Cardenosa.

The Hands On mural will be officially launched on Monday 6 May with a special celebration and everyone’s invited. It isn’t every day that a mural is created from scratch, using such a democratic process (albeit some artistic direction from Camila). It will definitely be interesting to see in the months ahead, how the project and the mural itself impacts the community around it.

To see images of Camila and the others at work, check out the Hands On Windmill Gardens website. A project that started out with one idea, this has grown into one that has drawn many in.

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Links

For a video of another recently completed mural please see our video of the Great Wave Mural restoration

For information on last years nearby Windmill Mural please see here

For information on nearby Brixton murals please see here

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Mural of the Month! Royal Oak Murals, by Ben Kaufmann

Royal Oak Murals, by Ben Kaufmann

Royal Oak Murals, photograph 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

In a month that has seen much thought cast on the pre-Thatcher state of affairs it seems worth paying a visit to two of the most forceful and controversial murals of the 1970s. Tucked away beneath the Westway, just to the North of Royal Oak tube station, David Binnington and Desmond Rochfort’s Royal Oak murals were completed in 1976-77 and stand as testaments to a not so distant (but rather short lived) age of large scale, ideologically charged, political murals. Heralded by Richard Cork as ‘an object lesson in how publicly sited murals can gain great resonance in their surroundings’ and by William Feaver as ‘a large dose of social realism [that] has done wonders for the grey desert of Royal Oak’, they were dismissed equally vehemently. Sarah Kent saw them as pathetic examples of pseudo-Socialist Realisms and Peter Fuller as a ‘montage book of art clichés’. Shrouded in controversy from the off, therefore, the murals provide a microcosm of the ideological dissonance of their time, and reveal the extent to which murals once played a forceful role in these wider polemics.

Royal Oak Murals, photograph 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

Royal Oak Murals, photograph 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

Arriving at the murals today you might be forgiven for missing their once iconic status. Buried in graffiti to a height of six feet or so, and now partially obscured by the hoardings of a Crossrail generator site, they – like the debates they touch upon – have not escaped the hands of time. With this said, above the height of eight feet they remain in remarkably good condition – no doubt owing to the fact that they were some of the first murals in London to be executed in the laborious but highly durable Keim silicate paint.

Office Work, by Dave Binnington, photograph 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

Office Work, by Dave Binnington, photograph 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

On approaching the murals from Royal Oak station (a right out the station and a swift left under the shadows of the Westway) the first thing one notes is a giant cog, which looms illusionistically over the Crossrail hoardings. It is only with the sight of the eagle which perches to its left, however, that you notice that the cog is in fact a part of Binnington’s cycle – stretching across the concrete pier of the motorway. Whilst the upper portion of the mural reveals something of the overall statement – the driving mechanisms of the Capitalist system, the strange offering made to the glass enclosed emperor figure, and the media workers dissolving into the apparatus of their trade – the current obscuring of the lower section hides the long benches of office workers – passively awaiting missives from above – who lie at the heart of the mechanical system. We can only hope that the completion of the Crossrail construction will reveal them once more to the public gaze.

David Binnington, Office Work, Detail, Photograph 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

David Binnington, Office Work, Detail, Photograph 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

Des Rochfort, Work, photo by Ben Kaufmann

Des Rochfort, Work, photo by Ben Kaufmann

As we move round the pier to the right Des Rochfort’s homage to construction workers hovers above. Stretching out across the diagonal slant of the pier it is as impressive and engulfing as it is difficult to photograph. It was Rochfort’s panel that seemed to draw the more favourable comments in its time – and has survived the best. It portrays what William Feaver described at the time as ‘Herculean’ figures at work upon giant scaffolds and cranes. Utilising the multiple perspective schemes pioneered by David Alfaro Siqueiros it commands the space below – our attentions shooting off into the blue skies via the monumental figures of the workers. Sitting, as it does, on one of the largest scale urban constructions of its time (and, indeed, right next to a present day one) it seems a fitting tribute to the human labour which is, after all, the engine of such projects.

Desmond Rochfort, Work, Panorama, 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

Desmond Rochfort, Work, Panorama, 2013, by Ben Kaufmann

Funded by Abbey Harris the murals were, at the time of their completion, the largest exterior murals in England. They followed from extensive consultation with the local community (which had been torn in half by the construction of the Westway some half decade previously), and were intended to offer a focus to their thoughts and concerns and to animate the desolate wasteland created by the Westway’s construction. It is difficult to gauge the extent to which the murals succeeded in the first regard – for the raw cut of the Westway through the area continues to obscure any overt signs of community embrace. To this day, however, they offer a focus of contemplation and symbol of conviction amidst the concrete expanses of the underpass.

Desmond Rochfort, Work, Detail from Royal Oak Murals, Photo by Ben Kaufmann

Desmond Rochfort, Work, Detail from Royal Oak Murals, Photo by Ben Kaufmann

More concrete is the influence the mural scheme had upon other projects – serving as a rallying point and mark of ambition for a new generation of mural artists who were coming to the fore. Most specifically, in their wake Dave Binnington became involved in the planning of the Cable Street Mural. Whilst Binnington eventually desisted from work on Cable Street, Paul Butler – who had contacted him and Rochfort during their work on Royal Oak soon became involved – and encouraged Rochfort (and Ray Walker) to help him see Cable Street to completion. Des Rochfort was to go on, in the 1980s, to write two seminal studies on the Mexican muralists whose influence is so discernable in both Royal Oak and Cable Street.

The murals remain a startling reminder of the ideological convictions of the 1970s mural movement, and their message resonates strongly to the present day. It seems unlikely that Crossrail or the Mayor of London could be tempted to see the murals restored to their former glory as a compensation to a community once more disturbed by a heavy development project which will do little for local residents. It is to be hoped, however, that in dismantling their hoardings the murals will at least be left in as good a condition as they were found. They remain some of the iconic works of the era.

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Links

For more information on The Cable Street Mural please see our website or blog post

For more Murals of the Month see here

For more political murals please see our website entries on Cable Street, Poplar Rates Rebellion, Nuclear Dawn, Riders of the Apocalypse, Floyd Road and  Tolpuddle Martyrs

For a set of photographs of the Royal Oak Murals (before the Crossrail hoardings) please see our set on Flickr

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Stockwell Memorial Mural Clean Up Day (Part 1)

Welcome to the wonderful British weather! Last weekend saw our first attempt to give the mural a clean and to scrape away peeling paint and vanquish the moss and mold.

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However the snow came and sent us packing to huddle in the warmth of a cafe. But we did get at least half an hours work done!

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Thanks to those who came along!

So we have arranged another day – Friday 29th March – 10pm to 3pm.

Wear old clothes and gloves! Drinks and refreshments will be served!

For more information:

Email stockwellmemorialfriends@gmail.com or londonmuralpreservationsociety@yahoo.com

In the event of bad (that is really really bad) weather, phone or text 07738 552 516 to check that the clean-up is going ahead.

See you Friday!

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