The Great Wave Mural Restoration – Video, by Larissa Alves

Following the successful restoration of the Great Wave Mural in Camberwell, we have a video interview with Vinnie O’Connell (of New Leaf), who helped oversee the restoration. Video by Larissa Alves.

We would like to extend a big thank you to Vinnie, Solo One, Morganico and all of those of you who turned out to make this project such a resounding success. A big thanks also to Dulux Let’s Colour, for their supply of paint!


Please click on the below links for further information

For more information on New Leaf

For more information on Solo One or Morganico

For more information on the Windmill restoration or our a link to the If Walls Could Speak Documentary

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British Murals 1920-1960: Book, Exhibition and Conference Reviewed, by Ben Kaufmann

Murals seem to be enjoying something of a Renaissance in popular consciousness at the moment. From our very own Nuclear Dawn Restoration campaign (petition here) or the attempts to save the Chartist Murals in Newport, to the recovery of a Gibbs mural in Nottingham and the unfolding of a new mural campaign in Swansea – newspapers, campaigners and the wider public seem increasingly aware of the importance of, and the difficulties facing, murals in this country.

Newport’s threatened Chartist Mural, by Kenneth Budd, 1978. Photograph by Chris Downer, under Wikipedia Commons License

Last Friday’s conference at Morley College could be seen as part of this wider moment. Organised by the 20th Century Society the conference coincided with an exhibition at the Fine Art Society and the release of an impressive 351 page hardback book, published by Sansom and Company. All three ventures took as their subject British Murals from 1920 – 1960, and taken together they offer some long overdue insights into the historic evolution of mural painting across the early 20th century.

LMPS Nuclear Dawn Restoration Campaign makes the billboards. Photo by Leo Johnson

LMPS Nuclear Dawn Restoration Campaign makes the billboards. Photo by Leo Johnson

Shining through the conference and book, however, was a lingering question – addressed by Alan Power’s catalogue essay under the title of ‘The Mural Problem’. For despite the efforts of the eight speakers and multiple catalogue writers it is perplexing that murals remain so popular with media and public yet so excluded from the realms of Art History. It was interesting to learn that this is a fate that has befallen not only the Community murals (on which the LMPS has focussed much of its attention owing to their public engagement of the London community) but also a great deal of their precursors. If dealt with at all much of these (often institutional) murals have tended to be considered in relation to the wider work of an individual artist – rather than on their own merits.

Paul Peter Rubens, Banqueting House, Whitehall, London. Photograph by Michael Wal, 2008, under Wikipedia Commons license

Yet as Friday’s conference showed, there is an untapped wealth of mural painting in this country. From Medieval churches and the Baroque schemes of Thornhill and Rubens, through the pre-Raphaelite cycles at the Oxford Union and the Manchester Town Hall right through the last century and into our own, the Mural format has provided a rich interaction with architecture, place and the spectator which has marked it out from its more esteemed relative; the panel painting.

Clare Willsdon and Alan Powers introductory speeches did much to flesh out this historic ancestry to the 20th Century Mural, focussing on the faltering civic status of the mural across the 19th century and leading us towards the murals of Rex Whistler, Frank Brangwyn and those of Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious at Morley College across the early 20th. (These latter works were unfortunately destroyed by bomb damage in the Second World War – very shortly after their execution). Clare Willsdon’s book on Mural Painting in Britain 1840-1940 will surely make a fascinating read to any interested in this pre-history with the newly published book now taking us through to the 1960s.

Duncan Grant (left) and John Maynard Keynes (right). source Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey: A Critical Biography (1967), Volume 1, p. 344. under Wikipedia commons.

Moving through the day Jonathan Black moved from the avant-garde mural practice of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant (whose Borough Polytechnic Murals were relocated to the Tate collection in 1931) and Wyndham Lewis, and on through Frank Brangwyn (whose controversial Rockefeller mural was overshadowed by Diego Rivera’s contribution, but is the subject of a fascinating chapter in the new book). Black culminated with reference to the mural scheme devised to brighten the walls of the ‘British Restaurants’, set up across the country to provide affordable meals to the British public during the Second World War. This extensive scheme included hundreds of murals by the likes of John Piper, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant – among others. The work has been largely lost and remains overlooked by historic records.

Visitors to the Festival of Britain in front of the Dome of Discovery. (Southbank Centre Archive/Mrs Holland).

Dr Margaret Garlake ushered us into the post war era, focussing on the mural work of panel painters like Peter Lanyon, John Piper and Victor Pasmore as well as the evolving hand of the Arts Council and other civic bodies in the commissioning process of murals. Her reminder of the fact that the Arts Council was established in 1949 owing to the belief that artistic production was an essential part of civilised society and should thus be supported by the welfare state, seems a timely one in this age of the unflinching fiscal axe. In many senses the highlight of her talk was the focus upon the enormous quantity of murals produced for 1951’s Festival of Britain (well into the hundreds). Whilst John Piper’s contribution has survived and was a highlight of the Fine Art Society’s exhibition, the Festival’s murals remain largely overlooked, and once more most of the work has been lost or destroyed. Alan Powers notes in his catalogue essay that it was one of Winston Churchill’s first acts on the Tory return to power in 1954 to rid London of the ‘three-dimensional Socialist propaganda’ of the festival site. It is unfortunate that much of the historical record seems to have followed suit.

This mural by William Mitchell, is located at the Three Tuns pub, Bull Yard, Coventry. It is designated at Grade II listed building structure. Image source Wikipedia Commons user RobJN

As the afternoon beckoned we moved more firmly into the territory of the LMPS with Lynn Pearson’s fascinating study of the Public Art and Murals since 1950 (largely those across the North of England) and Dr Jeremy Howard’s introduction into his Decorated Schools Project.  Whilst the fantastic Brockley School Murals had been on my radar before, we were presented with a wealth of slides of murals from Huddersfield to Edinburgh, and by artists including William Mitchell, Fred Millet and Patricia Tew.

The day culminated with talks by Henrietta Billings of the 20th Century Society, Dr Roger Bowlder of English Heritage and Andy Ellis of the Public Catalogue Foundation. Through these talks became apparent the extent and importance of the work to be done in preserving, protecting and celebrating murals across London, and throughout the country. Murals –owing to their direct engagement with public and architectural spaces, and their resistance to the commodity principle, which governs so much of our values system – remain consistently under threat, be it from developers, damp or simple neglect. The dangers of the threats are plain to see – murals bridge a gap between the hallowed ranks of art and public consciousness, they enrich our public spaces and institutions and they constitute a rich strand of our historical commonwealth.

Floyd Road Mural, by Greenwich Mural Workshop, 1976. One of London’s first Community Murals

The fate of murals following 1960 would in itself make a fascinating conference: one which would have to include the towering influence of the community mural movement and perhaps move us further into the realm of art historical neglect. Friday’s conference though, gave many positive signs of a growing interest in the fate of Britain’s murals amongst institutions and the Art Historical establishment and this is undoubtedly an important step in the right direction. The Public Catalogue Foundation’s, (as yet loose), plan to document the Murals of Britain would provide a fantastic resource for those seeking to extend their knowledge of murals across the country. In the meantime the newly published book offers a precious record of those produced between 1920 and 1960 – with good historical surveys, many previously unpublished photos and case studies of fifteen mural cycles.

It was wonderful to see the work of the LMPS credited on so many occasions throughout the conference and to perceive the extent to which other organisations and scholars are working along similar lines. As the multiple examples of lost murals across the day emphasised, however, much work remains to be done – extending the case for, and understanding of, Britain’s murals. We look forward to continuing our work along these lines.

Brixton’s Nuclear Dawn, by Brian Barnes, 1981. Help us to save and restore it by following the below link.

In the meantime Paul Liss’s Preface to the new book suggests a wealth of murals in London, which may be of interest to those tracking down the rich history of the mural movement across the early 20th Century. In Central London alone there are murals by Edward Bawden, Jean Cocteau, George Clausen, Edward Halliday, Alfred Kingsley Lawrence, Colin Gill, Charles Sims, William Rothenstein, Rex Whistler, D.Y. Cameron, Hans Feibusch, and Ivon Hitchins. To that list can be added the 50 or so murals that are documented on our website and which have transformed the face of our city and mural history across the last 50 years. These are by artists including Brian Barnes, Dave Binnington, Paul Butler, Jane Gifford, Greenwich Mural Workshop, Mick Harrison, Des Rochfort, Christine Thomas, Caroline Thorp and Ray Walker. There are many more besides! Happy hunting!
And don’t forget to voice your support for the future of the Nuclear Dawn mural here



For More information on London’s murals and our work please visit our website

For more information on the 20th Century Society please click here

For more information on the book ‘British Murals &Decorative Painting 1920 – 1960 see here

For more information on Nuclear Dawn restoration campaign click here

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Mural of the Month! Floyd Road Mural

If you have ever taken the train from London Bridge, through Woolwich and onto Gillingham, you might have noticed a mural whizzing past just as the train leaves the station at Charlton. If you are like me, you might have taken note of the location and come back for a look at a later date. What you will have discovered is one of London’s oldest murals from its community murals period. The piece is known as the Floyd Road mural and it was painted in 1976 by the Greenwich Mural Workshop.

Floyd Road Mural

Floyd Road Mural

The piece shows how the local community stopped the houses being bulldozed.

Stopping the diggers

Stopping the diggers

Many people from the area are featured in the painting. They were also involved in helping with its execution.

Local People

Local People

The piece remains in good condition and seems to be much loved by the residents of Charlton.

Door detail

Door detail

To visit the mural, take a train from London Bridge to Charlton. From the train station, take a right and head up Charlton Church Lane. Cross the road and take the first left. This is Floyd Road. Follow the road around. The mural is located on the corner of Floyd Road and Valley Grove.  Please take a look at this lovely mural!


Other Murals “of the month” local to this piece include:

Other Murals by Greenwich Mural Workshop can be found here

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“Super Mural Saturday”, 2nd February, 2013

With six top-flight football games and the Six Nations kicking off in London, you may think that any discussion of ‘Super Saturday’ would be confined to Murdoch-paying pubs, terraced stands and overzealous sports journalists. For those of you looking for escape from the endless chasing of balls across muddy fields, however, the LMPS have not one, not two, but three major mural events (in Brixton, nb Brixton consultation postponed as of 10am Saturday….)Elephant & Castle and Camberwell). Please come and get involved in as many as possible. Details are below.

Nuclear Dawn Site Consultation

NB We have just been informed that the consultation for the Somerleyton Road site has been postponed until Saturday 9th. Please try to make it then and we hope to see you today at one of the two fantastic mural events below….

Nuclear Dawn Mural, the site in front of it is due for redevelopment. Consultation this Saturday. Make your voice heard.

Nuclear Dawn Mural, the site in front of it is due for redevelopment. Consultation this Saturday. Make your voice heard.

As mentioned previously the site next to Brixton’s much loved Nuclear Dawn Mural is almost certainly to be developed in the next year. The future of the site will have a profound effect on the future of the mural. The local community is being consulted on the site development Next Saturday. Please come and make your voice is heard and tell them that you want the mural to stay! Please click on these links for more information on the mural , the artist and the ongoing restoration campaign.

Here is some more information about the consultation:

“We want to ensure this vision is built on the best knowledge of our whole community. Starting in February Social Life will be running a series of community workshops so we can develop the proposal in more detail. Alongside this there will be on-line resources and activities with local groups and door-to-door discussions.

If you would like to contact us before please call 020 7183 5838 or or email us”

Elephant & Castle Roundabout ‘Spruce up’

‘Super’ Saturday, 2nd February, 2013, 3pm

meet at the centre of the Elephant & Castle roundabout

A small detail of the Elephant & Castle Subways (Richard Reynolds /

A small detail of the Elephant & Castle Subways (Richard Reynolds /

As we reported last year the Save our Subways campaign has been set up in response to TFL plans to do away with the subway system under the Elephant & Castle roundabout. David Bratby‘s ceramic murals would be a major costs of any redevelopment and this Saturday a ‘Guerilla Grime Buster’ event aims to clean them up, restoring them to the community in their full glory. Cleaning materials and refreshments will be provided. For more details of the please see the event’s facebook page

Camberwell’s Hokusai Great Wave restoration

‘Super’ Saturday, 2nd February, 2013, 12.30 pm

meet 12.30pm at Rock Steady Eddies cafe

Hokusai Wave Mural, Camberwell, after the fire. Much of the lower left of the mural has been destroyed.

Hokusai Wave Mural, Camberwell, after the fire. Much of the lower left of the mural has been destroyed.

Coming up for a year since a fire decimated much of the lower portion of the Great Wave Mural in Camberwell, and with paint very kindly donated by the Dulux Let’s Colour project we are now in a position to make a start on the restoration. With rain forecast we are not certain if we will be able to get painting this week but we hope to have a planning meeting regardless and hopefully the skies will allow us some time to get our brushes out (NB as of Friday 1st, sun is forecast – keep an eye on weather here). More volunteers and spectators are very welcome so please feel free to come on down. Meet 12.30pm at Rock Steady Eddies Cafe at the Camberwell end of Coldharbour Lane. For more information please visit the event page on facebook

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Mural of 2012: The Brixton Windmill Mural, by Gillian Da Costa

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.

Community in Action

Community in Action

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.

The Portrait

The Portrait

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.

Painting the mural

Painting the mural

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.

The Unveiling

The Unveiling

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

And finally, more information on our forthcoming restoration projects please follow us on twitter @L_mps and Facebook



Posted in Brixton Windmill Mural Restoration, London Mural Preservation Society, Mural Events, Mural of the Month | 1 Comment

Review of the Year: 2012

Wow! Another years passes. The London Mural Preservation Society is nearly three! How time flies!

So what have we been up to this year?

In January, we were mentioned in the Wandsworth Guardian in reference to the threat of demolition of the Battersea Puzzle Mural. A few more murals were photographed and over ten more added to our website.

Photographed in January: a detail from Danebury Avenue Mural, Roehampton

A new addition to the team was welcomed at the end of February!

Baby Chloe born in February to Ruth (Founder of London Mural Preservation Society)

Roll on March and we got confirmation that the Heritage Lottery Fund were happy for the If Walls Could Speak Project to go ahead!  This was the project which involved restoring the Brixton Windmill Mural and creating the documentary about the Brixton murals.

April and a big bang blew away part of the Camberwell Hokusai Wave mural. Local blog picked up the story from us.

Hokusai Great Wave Mural - before the fire

May saw the beginning of the repairing and restoring the Brixton Windmill Mural.

Original Windmill Mural by Mick Harrison and Caroline Thorpe

A local consultation was had to ask locals what they would like to see in the mural. Brian Barnes came to give a talk about his history with murals. A Brixton walk was taken with a film crew along! That was quite a day!

Our team blogged away as the mural evolved from a faded cracked facade to a beautiful masterpiece.

June saw the grand opening and an appearance on the local BBC news!


The team who painted the mural!

Following the revamping of the mural, we were involved in workshops with children from Stockwell School to create a painting influenced by the murals in Brixton. A mini tour was devised for them, however their favourite bit was when they got an ice cream – even beating their experience of being shown how to do spray painting by Solo One at the Stockwell Graffiti Hall of fame!

Asides from this project a season of walks were taken. We had a new East London Line walk, written about in Londonist, and the Brixton Mural walk was run again with a grand turnout of 30!

Brixton Mural Walk July 2012

During the Olympics we got interviewed for Australian radio. Click here to listen!

September saw the beginning of the launch of the Nuclear Dawn Restoration Campaign on facebook – if you haven’t had a look, please do. We hope to update people soon with what is happening.

Save Our Mural!

We also had the premier of the If Walls Could Speak documentary. A great little piece. Do watch it!

The last couple of months have seen a campaign to get people on board with helping to repair the Camberwell Hokusai Mural. Artists have offered their time, paint had been  promised so there is just a wait for money for scaffolding. All in good time – we’ll keep you posted.

Other good news was that the Love over Gold mural got a little bit of repair – the doors had the mural painted back on them and bits of tagging of painted over. However, this is till the beginning of this story. Money needs to be raised for a proper repair job.

Detail of Love Over Gold mural

And finally, we have got involved with the Save our Subways campaign. The Elephant and Castle subways which are covered in murals are under threat. We are involved in raising awareness of just how great they are. Check out their facebook here and look out for events coming soon!

So, another amazing year for us! Lets keep at it – onwards and upwards. A big thanks to all our volunteers:  Jim, Hannah, Hilary, Hilary, Sylvie, Gillian, Ben, Pete, Matt, Richard, Bee and Sandy

And thanks to the people we have worked with: Vinnie O’Connell, Brian Barnes, Art4Space, Greenwich Mural Workshop, Clapham Film Unit, Verusca, and Postive Arts.

Posted in Brixton Windmill Mural Restoration, London Mural Preservation Society, Mural Events, Restoration | 1 Comment

If Walls Could Speak – Film Review

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

Nuclear  Dawn, Coldharbour Lane

Nuclear Dawn, Coldharbour Lane

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

Mauleverer Road Mural, Mauleverer Road

Mauleverer Road Mural, Mauleverer Road

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

Bellefields Road Mural, Bellefields Road

Bellefields Road Mural, Bellefields Road

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

Children at Play, Stockwell Park Walk

Children at Play, Stockwell Park Walk

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.

Posted in Brixton Windmill Mural Restoration, London Mural Preservation Society, Mural Events, Restoration, Uncategorized | 4 Comments