Ho Ho Ho, Christmas is over and 2012 is already making its presence felt as we hope for new beginnings and fresh starts. So it’s a time for reflection over the last year. How has the London Mural Preservation Society faired in its second years, still all sparkly and new?
Feburary saw us rushing around getting ready for the event to mark 30 years of the Nuclear Dawn Mural in Brixton. Not only did we reunite the two original artists, Brian Barnes and Dale McCrea for the first time in 25 years but we managed to generate some publicity which led to an appearance on the BBC Radio London’s Robert Elms Show, an article in the South London Press and a small piece on the BBC London News.
This was all very exciting stuff for a little group in its infancy. We’d had an amazing event, with fantastic feedback from the people who came along and the profile of murals in London had been raised! More people took a look at the blog and the website as we spent time building up the number of murals to view online.
By May we had 40 murals live on the internet. This was the first time that London’s murals were appearing together with pics and history available for all the world to see! Our researchers were off visiting the length and width of London to photograph forgotten pieces or hanging around polling stations to get a glimpse of a mural in a school.
We also saw a great gallery of mural pictures put into the Telegraph ex-pats section and a mention in the Times. And we had visitors from around the world. The lovely people at Mural Locator came to visit us all the way from Washington DC in the USA.
May also saw the first of the 2011 Mural walks; a visit into North East London, starting at Dalston and finishing at Highbury Corner. We had muralist and artist, Diana Leary, with us, filling in some of the details about the pieces she had worked on.
June and July saw repeats of the Brixton Mural Walk. Once in the rain for the Brixton Society; well done to those who braved the weather, and once on a glorious Sunday afternoon with muralist Brian Barnes to assist us with the stories.
July also saw the Brixton Academy Mural get a little bit of restoration work. We were involved with some consultation on this and putting the 02 in touch with artist Paul Butler who did the work on it.
A meeting with the teachers of the MA in Wall Painting Conservation at the Courtauld Institute has led to assistance from one of their graduates over the course of 2011/2012. Now we have the real experts on board and are looking forward to improving our understanding of repairing and maintaining murals for future generations.
On a rather rainy August day, the London Mural Preservation Society gave a talk for the Whitechapel Gallery’s project ‘Reclaim the Mural’. The history of London’s mural was condensed into 40 minutes with 60 slides! (I think we need some editing next time!!!) The Reclaim the Mural project also led to contact with Vinnie O’Connell at the New Leaf project and the possibilities of restoring the Brixton Windmill Mural. A plan is in place and we are hoping to secure the funding in the beginning of 2012. Watch this space for more information!
We also did our final walk for the season through the back streets of Surrey Quays, New Cross and Deptford. The best bit was the enthusiasm from the local community about their murals in particular, the Love Over Gold Mural on Creekside, Deptford. Asides from learning the great history of the pieces, we also made connections with people who would like to see the mural restored. The original artist Gary Drostle is keen to be involved so fingers crossed this will be another piece repaired in 2012.
The following day bought riots to the street of London and the destruction of a mural in Woolwich. We launched a facebook campaign and got some press interest. Many locals expressed a wish to create a new piece and it has led to some new contacts being formed.
It also brought the London Mural Preservation Society to the attention of local radio producer and reporter Andrea Rangecroft who did a programme on murals for her show on Hammersmith local station On FM 101.4.
September saw the launch of the Reclaim the Mural Exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Art collective “The Work in Progress” had spent the last year investigating murals with the aim to eventually creating their own. Their research was displayed at the gallery and included a board about the work of the London Mural Preservation Society.
We also visited Paul Butler in September, who was working on the restoration of the Cable Street Mural. The mural got a new lease of life complete with an anti-graffiti layer and was ready in time for its re-opening on the 1st October.
There was also a great little exhibition at Studio 1.1 featuring many original drawings from the mural. At the private view I was privileged to meet many people involved with the mural over the years; it was quite an amazing evening.
Well, October turned into November and we managed to persuade our friends from Open Dalston to do a talk about the Dalston Mural for the Reclaim the Mural Project. So on a blustery November Sunday, we talked about the history of the piece and the want to conserve it. A bit of tweeting got the attention of the Hackney Gazette and an article about the mural and plans for restoration appeared the following week.
And finally, the end of the year we had an article published in the London Society magazine, making available the background and history of the murals to a new audience.
So what can I say…it’s been an amazing year! Please put your hands together and give a big round of applause for our team of volunteers who have helped this project tick over: Matt, Pete, Alice, Bee, Richard, Sylvie, Hannah, Jim, Stewart, Sandy, Reuben and Hilary.
And a big thanks to all the muralists I’ve spoken to this year with a special mention to Diana Leary and Brian Barnes!