Greenwich Mural Workshop

After investigating the (still) fabulous Rathmore Benches and in my continuing search for the answer to a question that Jonathan asked back in February about the Mural at St Alfege’s School, I discovered Greenwich Mural Workshop.

It’s the kind of organisation that could only have come out of the 1970s and 80s – a time when whatever else utterly horrible was going on, the arts were considered an essential part of the community – and that to decorate buildings and dull places was all part of a larger enjoyment of life. People moaned at the time that the Arts Council wasn’t coming up with enough cash – but it was probably the very best time the arts have ever known for public funding. I don’t know how Greenwich Mural Workshop was (or is) funded – but I’ll bet my boots that the impetus came from that glory time.

Even the website has a 80s/90s feel to it, one that I, for one, find rather comforting. On it they have a gallery (not nearly big enough) of the work they’ve created and you can see just how fab the public (and not so public) spaces they’ve decorated are. They’ve produced many of those incredible giant murals that sprang up in urban areas in the 80s and 90s (I can’t find the St Alfege’s School one there, Jonathan, but the style is so similar, perhaps it’s just not been included in the gallery) multi-media projects in schools and community centres and my own favourites, exquisite site-specific mosaics with frustratingly few details of where they can actually be viewed. The more modern projects that they seem to be taking on have a much less bright, more ‘environmental’ feel – ‘natural’ colours and materials. Such is progress.

They clearly know what they’re doing – no school-kid daubing here. These are trained professionals; highly-skilled artists. They may “combine the talents” of the local community, but anything that actually goes up on the walls is actually something worth seeing by people other than doting parents.

How they’ve survived the thin times of the nineties and the even thinner times of the noughties beats me, but they are still very much going – taking on new commissions, youth training and consultation jobs (presumably the ‘consultation’ is the key to the funding – I doubt they’ll have much joy from central government these days)

They’re based in Woolwich, and I notice that they seem to have had a lot of input into public spaces there. I hope they get the opportunity to make their mark on the new-look Woolwich that will be emerging over the next few years. In the meanwhile, maybe Greenwich Council could find a few quid to use their “repair” service on Rathmore Benches…

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