Leaves within leaves – a Denys Lasdun mural

How do you get nearly 600 children to participate in a school mural project? That was the challenge to be tackled when Hallfield Primary School in Bayswater invited me to come and fill some empty display boards in one of their curving corridors. The school was designed in 1951 by architect Denys Lasdun to be filled with light, curved spaces and tree-filled courtyards – it is a real gem. Lasdun’s original concept drawings for the school showed the classrooms as leaves, dining area as pea pods and hall space as a flower. This seemed a good starting point for the mural – a black and white outline over blocks of colour, with a leaf for each class just as Lasdun had planned – except that now there are 24 classes in the school.

Over the last couple of weeks the teachers have been working with their classes to make leaves using different media and carefully controlled colour palettes so hat the resulting leaves could be divided into four seasons. The result was hundreds of miniature works of art, in pastel lines over painted patterns, printed from real leaves, in pen, collage and chalk. I used hairspray to fix chalk and pastels, but charcoal was a bit more challenging. I’d also recommend checking any marker pens for bleed first. Having painted the background shapes I then used pva to glue all the small leaves within the big leaves – and now it’s finished.

I’d been at the school in February for a drawing project and it was lovely to be remembered by lots of the children. I also enjoyed hearing them rehearse their school production of ‘Skellig’ while I worked.


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