Fresco study, NdA. Instituto Allende, Mexico.
|La Despedida. NdA. Plaster bas-relief study. 3.25 x 2.5 meters. Instituto Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
|Some time later,
when I lived in Paraguay, I won
a competition (scroll to the bottom of this
design and execute an abstract mural for
a new hotel in Asunción. But
it was not until the 1980s in London that
an opportunity arose to really exercise
my wall-painting inclinations. I
happened to see a job advertisement to
join a team of artists, organised by CSV
(Community Service Volunteers) to paint murals
for public locations in the borough of
was interviewed, accepted and began
a thrilling, if ephemeral, adventure. Ephemeral
for reasons I willl explain.
There were seven of us, artists of various backgrounds, ages and experience but all keen to use our skills on a large scale. We discussed ideas and made general plans but each person was responsible for designing and executing different sections of some murals while in other projects only one artist was needed. This was an ideal situation since I prefer to work independently but also enjoy the camaraderie of a congenial group.
On the façade of Godwin Court, a building on Crowndale Road near Mornington Crescent, my designated section was alongside the entrance to a mother-and-child clinic. I decided to paint it as though you were looking through the wall into the waiting room and reception area. I took photos and made a lot of preparatory drawings, transferred my final sketch to the rough brick wall and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of painting in the middle of a busy street, cars and buses whizzing past and curious pedestrians stopping by to chat. The other artists were busy on their own sections of the long wall but at lunchtime we would all go to the pub, like good workmen, and talk about art and life and all that jazz. It was the best job imaginable.
all that's left of this mural are the photos
and slides I and other people took of it.
This is not the age of sacred walls! The
lovingly painted surfaces gradually became
fair game for the aerosol and magic marker-wielding
vandals of the neighbourhood and several
years of this activity later, Camden Council
decided to cover the entire façade with grafitti-proof
gloss paint. None of us were ever consulted
or told our work was being destroyed and
there's no law that could have prevented
it. Nevertheless I'm proud of this work and
of the huge assignment I was offered next.
The Hampden Community Centre off St. Pancras Road was a popular meeting place for local pensioners and teenagers and when the idea of a mural in the common room was suggested, the organisers embraced it enthusiastically. I was still part of the Mural Team but the other artists were busy in various locations and I was delighted to take on the 50' x 12' wall entirely on my own. The scale drawing I submitted was approved by a committee and I began working on the wall on Valentine's Day, February 14th, 1983.
|(to be continued tomorrow)|