Tuesday, 5 April 2011


As part of the same programme of school building in Hertfordshire after WWII, Swallow Dell School was completed in 1952, 2 years after Templewood School. It was planned and designed by the same team, headed by the then County Architect, C H Aslin. The school is very reminiscent of Templewood with its concrete cladding panels, flat roofs, large windows and a very spacious site. It no longer has its Crittall windows, but otherwise remains as it was. The school today is airy and colourful with a great atmosphere. As part of the art for schools & for all, Swallow Dell School was given the mural.

Artists Julian Trevelyan (1910-88) and Mary Fedden (1915-) painted the bold, stunning very large mural for the school hall, (the heart of any school). Even at almost 60 years old, on first view, the harbour scene mural is breathtaking and must have been a large undertaking. The colours are vibrant, the mural feels spacious. The harbour looks idyllic and relaxed. The line of the harbour wall curves through the centre - drawing you in to the middle of the painting. There are fishing boats, fishermen, ravenous seagulls, fishermen in groups talking over their nets, a fisherman with his catch watched by a hopeful tabby cat, diners in a cafe, a postman with his van and the village around the harbour. In the far left corner a black cat climbs the wall in an attempt to get his paws on a caged parrot.

The mural is a great example of Trevelyan & Fedden's work. Both painted other murals together for schools in the 1950s. Trevelyan was one of the founders of the School Prints Ltd scheme where famous artists gave paintings to be lithographed and given to schools. These two artists were at the vanguard of the idea for art in schools to become a natural occurence.

Both became RA's, Trevelyan only the year before he died. Mary Fedden continues to paint & exhibit as an Royal Academician.

The children who attend Swallow Dell School are very familiar with the mural and are often encouraged to turn around (from facing the stage the other end of the hall) and observe the mural. It is a much loved and admired part of their school.

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