As you may remember from the last newsletter, the Society secured a grant from the Heritage of London Trust to uncover and refurbish the Magic Garden Mosaic (Francis Carr, 1961). There was a degree of trepidation as we pulled the plasterboard away from the wall to reveal the mural, which has been covered now for nearly twelve years (the headmistress at the time didn’t like it). The mural was in remarkably good shape and we set about cleaning, under Francis’s direction, all the individual elements accordingly and replacing the bits that had become damaged. Across the course of the week we had an army of volunteer support turn up at the school to assist Francis in his work and as we go to press, the mural is looking bright and rejuvenated. The Society is now working closely with the school on a number of projects to get the most out of what is and always was a wonderful educational resource. Headmaster Miles Chester is formulating a programme of events for the children, some of them based around responding through art to the work—these will be displayed on the wall at the unveiling.
The Society and the School, along with representatives from the Heritage of London Trust and the Public Monuments and Sculptures Association, will be unveiling the restored mural on the 14th Sept at 4.00pm. We plan to let the children give their opinions and hear from Francis about the mural’s conception and initial completion. The Society will also tell the story of its involvement with the case. It’s rare that we get our hands dirty with practical conservation, so this case, seemingly innocuous but with the potential to affect many children’s lives in a deprived area of London, is something the Society can justifiably be very proud of doing. By resurrecting a key piece of “child-centred” design from the post-war period, a piece that was interactive, stimulating and educational, we are also pointing to possible directions for the future of public and community art projects.