Posted On: 31/10/17
We met a lady at Sainsbury's in Colchester who showed us the first mural in this project that was ever created. She explained how the artists used wood to carve the patterns and then poured the concrete into the mould to make the detailed and textured wall. We were also told about how quickly the interesting motif caught on, as swiftly many more Sainsbury's stores requested for other designs to be made for them.
Afterwards, we took a short walk to FirstSite Art Centre to observe the three murals that British Home Stores had requested. One, in particular, was of a 3-dimensional basket of food and was said to be on the wall of the entrance of every branch of British Home Stores. This is because it encouraged customers to touch the mural and was an interesting addition to the store. Mrs Wood explained that when the artists had the money, they would also put colour into the murals, and even occasionally add mosaics to make them stand out even more. This is why the conservationists have now improved the murals in the subways, and added mosaic tiles in the places where the artists would have done.
We talked to a few of the conservationists and learned how they preserved and improved the murals, for example how they bronzed the concrete first before painting over in gold, so that if they weathered, or the workers made a small mistake, the concrete wouldn't show through. Also, the surface behind the murals had to be permeable, otherwise rainwater would expand and crack the concrete.
It was a very interesting experience both historically and architecturally.