Of all the projects that the London Mural Preservation Society worked on last year, the Brixton Windmill Mural Restoration Project was the highlight of 2012. A restoration project that was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it was a collaboration between the London Mural Preservation Society, Vinnie O’Connell (of New Leaf), Clapham Film Unit and Positive Arts. Not only was the project a wonderful team effort by these organisations, but it also brought out the enthusiasm of the local community that live around the mural and other volunteers.
Tracing back the history of the Brixton Windmill mural, the original was completed in 1983 by artists Mick Harrison and Caroline Thorp. The original project like the restoration, also had people from the local community getting involved and a few residents can even claim to have been around for both. While bringing the mural back to its former glory was the main idea behind the restoration, some new elements of the neighbourhood and residents were incorporated including the likeness of one little boy who will probably be pointing it out to all his friends as he walks home from school.
Here is a timelapse video of the project from start to finish including the plastering and priming of the wall, the first coat, the public painting days, and the final clean up. The sheer number of people involved in this project that had a limited budget and timeframe, stands as testament to those who kindly donated their time and efforts.
And it’s not every day that someone like me get’s to climb up scaffolding and paint on a wall in a purposeful way. As someone who made full use of at least two of the public painting days, I say with great certainty that I would do it again and again.
And that’s why neighbourhood projects like these continue to be so important. They bridge the gap between the old and the new, while allowing for stories to be retold and contemporized. And the meaning it gives to being part of such a project versus ‘liking’ street art and murals, makes it all the more special.
For 2013, the London Mural Preservation Society is giving its support to the Nuclear Dawn Restoration project which will hopefully garner the same kind of enthusiasm and community following. As we fleetingly move in and out of neighbourhoods and become more deeply involved with our virtual worlds, these murals are the tangible traces we leave behind for those coming after us. A trace of the things we have shared and care about. A sign that we were there.
For a look at the film which accompanied the mural please see our review
For more information on the process of the Brixton Windmill restoration see here
For more murals by Caroline Thorp and Mick Harrison see here
For BBC report on the unveiling see here
For more information about project ringleader Vinnie O’Connell see here
For more information about the great work Positive Arts do see their website
More information about the Nuclear Dawn Restoration can be found here