Reclaim the mural

Drew, Benedict, Hart, Emma, Jenkins, Dal, Kenning, Dean and Till, Corinna (2013) Reclaim the mural. London, U.K. : Whitechapel Gallery. 32p. ISBN 9780854882090


Why has the production of public murals in London declined in recent decades? Can mural making be reclaimed as a critical art form? What is the relationship between public surface and public space? This new publication focuses on ten key murals in London – ranging from the well-known and visible such as The Battle of Cable Street in East London to the forgotten and hidden – to examine how these public paintings have changed over time and how the spaces around them have transformed. The murals are presented through newly-commissioned photographs, each accompanied by a text which draws on and reflect on the broader questions of the project. How does making a mural in a local community alter artistic decision making? Why confront the difficulties of making an image collectively? How have changes in the distribution of art funding in recent decades affected mural production? Reclaim the Mural marks the end of two year’s research by the art collective The Work In Progress (Benedict Drew, Emma Hart, Dai Jenkins, Dean Kenning and Corinna Till), who were commissioned as part of the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme of new art beyond the gallery. This publication brings together their findings in order to disseminate and share their ideas, and provoke further questions. With an introduction by the curators of the project and an essay by writer Owen Hatherley, Reclaim the Mural offers a unique insight into a long-term, artist-led project. It is the only publication which looks critically at the legacy of the mural and community arts movement of the late seventies and provides an important analogy with contemporary questions surrounding the social function of art.

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