An undoubted highlight of the mural calendar in London this year was the If Walls Could Speak project. Jointly run by Clapham Film Unit, Vinnie O’Connell and the London Mural Preservation Society, the project included the tremendously successful revamping of the Brixton Windmill Mural, oral history training and the production of a short film to commemorate the history of Brixton’s Murals.
Beautifully shot and edited the film commemorates a great proportion of Brixton’s prestigious mural assets. Combining contemporary interviews and archival footage the film places the murals in the wider context of their production and reconstructs their part in the life of the local community.
For those searching for more information on the featured murals, below are a handful of useful links – in order of appearance.
Mural 1 – Nuclear Dawn
The first featured mural is Nuclear Dawn, by Brian Barnes and Dale McCrea. Completed in 1981 Nuclear Dawn preceded a group of murals completed on similar themes as part of the CND peace year (including Riders of the Apocalypse in New Cross and The Hackney Peace Carnival Mural in Dalston). For more information on Nuclear dawn please see here and for more information of our forthcoming restoration project see here.
Mural 2 – Mauleverer Road Mural
From there we move onto the 1983 Mauleverer Road Mural by Caroline Thorp, Jane Gifford, Mick Harrison and Ruth Blench. The mural combines forest scenes, stables, and Caribbean beaches – reactions to the history of the building and the wishes of local residents.
Mural 3 – Big Splash Mural
A quick hop round the corner to Glenelg Road takes us to Christine Thomas’ 1985 Big Splash Mural which, once more, mixes local reference (including Lambeth Ware pots, portraits of local residents and thematic inspiration from the River Efra) with an essentially escapist scene.
Mural 4 – Bellefields Road Mural
Images of the surrealist leaning Bellefields Road Mural feature next. The mural was completed in 1987 by Eugene Palmer and John Saward.
Mural 5 – Children at Play
The iconic Children at Play Mural, by Stephen Pusey, which celebrated its thirtieth birthday this year, then guides us through to the concluding scenes. (our recent blog post pays homage to the wall).
Mural 6 – Brixton Windmill Mural
The film concludes with the Brixton Windmill Mural. Interviews with the original 1984 artists (Jane Gifford and Mick Harrison), the restoration project organiser Vinnie O’Connell, Positive Arts (who led the painting) and the local residents round off a fantastic film.
The London Mural Preservation Society would like to extend our thanks to Clapham Film Unit for providing a lasting testament to some of London’s greatest murals and the excitement of the past year, and to Vinnie O’Connell and Positive Arts for their fantastic work in helping bring the Windmill Mural project to completion.