This mural, our New Parks mural at Saint Aidan’s Church, showing the story of St Aidan, is truly a hidden treasure. Leicester has rightly been excited at the discovery of King Richard III and his reburial in Leicester Cathedral and all the time we have had this King, King Oswald, and a Saint, Saint Aidan, weaving their magic through the great ceramic tile maker and muralist William Gordon. The mural was designed in 1958 and installed in 1959 when the church, designed by architect Sir Basil Spence, who also designed the famous Coventry Cathedral, was completed.
When great culture is sited in over looked or looked down on, working class communities and housing estates it becomes sometimes invisible, it’s worth negated.
Here we see members of the ‘Involuntary Painting 1 New Parks : New York’ group standing by the mural, one of the greatest surviving post-war tiled ceramic murals in the country.
After visiting the mural and viewing it, mediated by a photograph of an involuntary painting sent specially to the group, along with a video message, from New York based photographer and artist, Lucien Samaha, the group returned to New Parks Library to decorate tiles of their own.
The New Parks community involuntary painting group is linked with a group of artists in New York who exchange comments and encouragement with them via the internet.
Involuntary Painting 1 New Parks : New York is a project conceived by artists Millree Hughes (New York, USA) and Paul Conneally (Loughborough, UK) with and for Soft Touch Arts and New Parks Library with support from Arts Council England and Leicester City Learning Services PSHE and Citizenship Advisory Service (PCAS)
Note: Involuntary Painting is a term invented and coined for use in this context by Millree Hughes and further developed by Hughes with Paul Conneally:
‘If an alien landed on Earth programmed with all the knowledge of modern art and painting what might they as they wandered around mistake for a painting?’
These mistakes are what Hughes and Conneally call ‘involuntary paintings’. Surfaces and objects marked by time, mould, human and natural activity as stand-ins for the pigment, ground, support etc of voluntary painting, voluntary art.