Rathmore Benches Revisited
They were commissioned by Irena McFarland, then senior Youth Worker at thecentre. Paul Stephens( not Paul Simmons), also involved in the Centre,worked with us on the benches.
The theme for the murals and benches were agreed with local residents andyouth centre workers and users, and yes in response to a point you made Ithink, they were deliberately socio-political to reflect the aspirations ofthe local residents, also because that was the genre of GMW.
Each section of the walls reflected the theme of the benches. So from westto east – the first section showed portraits of local people debating /accosting national politicians, the second, people printing leaflets andposters, above the benches of faces; the next above the flames showed imagesof people welding and repairing parts of barges / boats, reflecting localinterest in re-establishing a working economy linked to the river Thames;the fourth section showed people growing food using wind, solar and waterenergy – way before the current interest in climate change etc.
The doorway had a Mexican image of life – an eagleholding a snake in its beak, an artistic reference to Los Tres Grandes -Siqueiros, Rivera and Orozco – all muralists in the 1930′s working on anational programme of mural painting within an education programme teachinga mainly illiterate indigenous population their history and education, andartistic mentors for GMW muralists. The pillars boasted images of the Rowantree – also a symbol of life.
Just a thought – but how easy would it be when you get a new commission, to add in a ‘trust fund’ contingency for upkeep? Presumably the amount wouldn’t need to be huge and could be ring-fenced, the interest earned keeping it in line with inflation. I am always saddened by things that were once ‘projects’ loved by the locals, opened with great pomp by dignitaries and then abandoned to vandals, weeds and Time.