As a consequence of remaining out of the public domain murals often end up being written out of the accounts of the lives of the artists who created them - not withstanding the fact that for sheer size and scale it might be assumed that they were amongst the most ambitious projects they ever undertook. The inspiration for this exhibition was the recent re-emergence of a number of historically important murals: two by Mary Adshead commissioned for Lord Beaverbrook’s dining room, (previously listed as destroyed), a cycle of large scale studies by Brangwyn for the Rockefeller Center, Edward Bawden’s The English Pub (1949-51), important works relating to the Festival of Britain by Alan Sorrell, John Piper, John Armstrong, Gilbert Spencer and Charles Mahoney, Barbara Jones’ mastepiece Man at Work (1961) and Peter Lanyon’s Porthmeor Mural (1962). Almost without exception these works have not been shown in public for over a generation and in most cases have never even been reproduced in colour. This in itself is remarkable. This exhibition coincides with the publication of British Murals & Decorative Painting 1920-1960 (Sansom & Co.). A debate is now long overdue – a debate about heritage, about murals that have been lost and murals that might still be recorded and saved. It is also time for a more inclusive view of 20th century British Art in which murals and decorative paintings are fully accounted for.
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