Monday, 17 January 2011

Susan Lawrence Primary School, Poplar

The school, built in 1949-51, was designed by Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall, as part of the 'Live Architecture' exhibition of the Festival of Britain. It was called at the time the Ricardo Street Primary and Nursery School.
The lobby's interior was clad with ceramic tiles. Their abstract white and yellow pattern covers the entire wall facing the entrance, providing a colorful counterfoil to the diagonal staircase which appears to be suspended in space.
The ceramics were designed by Peggy Angus, an artist, industrial designer and teacher at t North London Collegiate School, where she promoted her social vision of 'Art for Life'. Her art combined an interest with folk art and avant-garde artistic practices, using simple materials and a set of rules to develop abstract patterns that could be industrially applied to ceramics and wall papers. This school was the first of a decade long collaboration between the artist, the architects and the firm of Carter of Poole which manufactured the tiles. Other collaborations included the Warren Wood Secondary School for Girls and Merthyr Tydfil College of Further Education.
The lobby appeared on the cover of The Architectural Review in July 1951. It shows the original lighting scheme which was designed to highlight the mural. Recent renovations, especially the addition of electric ducts and florescent tubes have muddled the original relationship between the artwork, the architectural design, and the lighting fixtures.

The building's exterior includes a statue of a human figure, and a plaque states that it was dedicated by the Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Griffin in 1950.

Additional information on the school is found at British Listed Buildings Online

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