Bid to breathe new life into the Tory Dracula

Thursday, 9th September 2010

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Published: 09 September, 2010
by JOSH LOEB

A SUBVERSIVE wall mural defaced by “taggers” could be restored to its former glory in time for the London Olympics.

Community leaders are appealing for funds to help them repaint the Fitzrovia Mural in Whitfield Gardens off Tottenham Court Road.

The “cartoonish” work was created on a Camden Council-owned building in 1980 by local artists Mick Jones – son of the late Jack Jones, the legendary trade union leader – and Simon Barber and is a montage of scenes depicting problems faced by the area at the time.

It also contains a portrait of poet Dylan Thomas, who lived in Fitzrovia, and an unflattering portrayal of then leader of the Greater London Council, Conservative politician Horace Cutler, who is pictured as a bat-like creature. 

The Fitzrovia Neigh­bourhood Association (FNA) and the London Mural Preservation Society are hoping to win backing from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will hold a meeting on September 21 to rally support for the repainting, which is scheduled to begin next year. 

FNA campaigner Pete Whyatt, who lives in Riding House Street, said he hoped Fitzrovia residents would get involved in the scheme, which will include producing a booklet about the artwork’s history.

Mr Whyatt said: “It is 30 years old and has faded over time and become covered in graffiti. It needs some tender loving care. At the time when it was painted there was more community art around. The Heritage Lottery Fund is keen not to just give money for refurbishments but for projects that involve people from the community, and that is what we are trying to do.”

Mr Jones, who lives in Swains Lane, Highgate, said the public artwork was one of several that he painted in Camden in the 1980s. “It took six months to finish and we made a lot of it up as we went along,” he said. “We did it in a cartoonish style with a narrative reflecting what was happening in the area, after speaking to local people. At the top you can see a lot of high rises, which were a new thing in London at the time. That was to do with speculation – building not to benefit the community but purely to make money. By the crane you can see there is a man with a face like Dracula. He is Horace Cutler. There are two boys playing behind a fence, reflecting the lack of green space in the area.”

Mr Jones said he was surprised the painting was still clearly visible as it had not been painted using permanent acrylics.

It was rated number one in a list of London’s best murals compiled by listings magazine Time Out. Artist Kristina O’Donnell has been enlisted to help with the restoration.

There will be a public meeting about the project at 7.30pm on Tuesday September 21 at the Neighbourhood Centre, Tottenham Street, W1.

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