Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Patricia Tew Mural Grange Junior School, Letchworth

Whilst searching through Hertfordshire County Archives I found that Patricia Tew had painted two more murals under John Newsom's 'Art for All' programme in new build schools schools from 1947-53. After over ten years of looking at the three at Templewood School Patricia Tew murals (where my children have attended) I was justifyably excited. (I have written about them below).

I visted the Grange Junior School to see the murals. Once again, the school was finished in 1952 and it was part of the enlightened Hertfordshire school building programme after WWII. All schools were built with children very much in mind. There are wonderful colour schemes on the walls, huge windows to maximise light, wide open spaces, corridors of light and colour and most of all, every school had an artwork sum included in the budget. Most of these artworks were carried out by newly qualified artists. John Newsom's plan had been to encourage young artists and to give them something to put on their c.v., rather than use established artists.

Sadly one of the murals "Ullyses" has been covered up over the years and its whereabouts in the building is not exactly known. The enthusiastic Head, Jonty Hall, hopes to carry out a search as to its whereabouts.

However, on turning the corner to see the one mural left is a real wow moment. The colours are amazing. (It having been covered by cabinets for some years has, no doubt, helped to preserve the colours from the ravages of time, wear & light). It is of a well known local story of The Giant of Weston. The tale is one of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. It has a biblical quality about the injustice of life. In the mural he has stolen bread from uniformed, rather furious looking bakers with sticks, furrowed brows and glorious striped stockings, to give to the poor of the village.

The giant is of golden colours and is the focal point of the mural. He is tall and slim with leaves for his attire and headdress, giving suggestions of a green man of old tales. He has a bow and arrows and a large bowl of beautifully shaped large stolen loaves. He throws them out to the waiting hands. His face has a knowing smile.

As with the Templewood Patricia Tew Murals, the background colour is a stunning element. The turquoise colour has a luminescant quality to it. There are stalks of green leaves all over the picture. It is approximately 8 feet x 9 feet and was completed and signed by Miss Tew in 1952.

Because the mural has been covered up for some years, it is being looked at in earnest, almost like new, once again by staff and pupils. It is being very much enjoyed. The power of art here is absolute. It enriches what is already a light, colourful and hard working school.

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