by Henrietta Billings
We have recently been to look at one of Dorothy Annan’s few surviving murals, in Cayley Primary School in Tower Hamlets, East London. Still fixed in its original location, the large textured glass and plaster panel, concealed under plyboard since the 1970s, had almost been forgotten.
But a former pupil who as a child remembered the colourful mural hanging on the wall of the library, uncovered it in 2008 while doing some decorating work in the building. The head teacher Lissa Samuel welcomed me to the school to take a closer look, and its wonderful to see the mural on display again in all its former glory.
Little is known about the history of this work, but it was commissioned by the London County Council in the 1960s as part of their programme of art in schools. Annan produced several works of public art during this period, and her most well known piece is the ceramic mural of nine panels (c 1960) that lined the former Fleet Building on Farringdon Street in the City of London.
The Twentieth Century Society and TACS (Tile and Architectural Ceramics Society) were instrumental in getting the
Fleet Building mural listed at Grade II in 2011, which is now in the process of being re-located to the Barbican. This, the Cayley School mural and her work at Durham University library are the only murals by Annan known to survive.