© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Buckinghamshire County Museum
I am researching John Watson's work undertaken for Milton Keynes Council in the late 70's early 80's for a mural of Wolverton Railway Works. John spent 3/4 months on site completing drawings sketches and paintings. However, the project was cancelled, and I am trying to find any copies of these artworks. I do not know how many of these artworks were produced by John; however, I have currently found 19 originals in Wolverton buildings and 3 prints from an art centre in Fishguard, Wales.
The proposed mural, ‘Wolverton Works’ was to be one of three; ‘The Climbing Frame’ and ‘Bicycle Wall’ were both realised.
‘The Climbing Frame’ was installed on the gable end of one of the buildings at Watling Way County Middle School, Galley Hill. This was one of Milton Keynes’s first major housing schemes, developed in 1971. John designed, made and installed the mural in 1978. Its flowing brushwork depicts children, many holding animal masks, weaving their way around a prominent white frame; it included the names of the individual children.
‘Bicycle Wall’ was originally on the gable end of a shopping centre at Stantonbury that was built in 1972. John created the mural with the help of children from Stantonbury Comprehensive School. Many pupils (as well as bicycles) are depicted on the mural, which is intended to portray ‘Childhood happiness and enthusiasm’. The 60 x 24 ft mural comprises around 1,200 tiles, which were made and fired in the school's art department, decorated and glazed in the artist's studio, then re-fired at the school before being fixed directly to the brick Wall. This mural was removed and relocated when the building became derelict, after local councillors, art campaigners and neighbours fought to secure its future. ‘Bicycle Wall’ is now at the Aldi supermarket, Purbeck, Stantonbury, Milton Keynes, MK14 6GU.
Does anyone know how many artworks John produced for ‘Wolverton Works’ and the whereabouts of further examples?
Attachment: first batch of photographs
Art UK is in the early stages of fundraising to digitise painted public murals. ‘Bicycle Wall’ is already on the list to be photographed.
The local community still consists of many families that have been associated with Wolverton Works over its 185-year history, so it would be good to try to locate more of the fascinating artwork John Watson produced for this project. ‘A Living History of Milton Keynes’ (https://www.livingarchive.org.uk/) has a section on Wolverton Works. https://bit.ly/3u4f9or
Art UK already has 711 murals listed. https://bit.ly/3OF2mCp
Attachment: further drawings found by David Hilliard
One more attachment (the site will only accept 10 at once).
'The Upholsterer's Shop' was found at Milton Keynes Professional Development Centre.
Hello. I'm afraid I can't add anything at all to your query about John's murals but came across this page while trying to research him a bit myself. I've had a print John did in 1972 in my house since I was a baby which I've now 'inherited' from my father (he's still with us - I just have it in my house now!).
After all these years I've suddenly become keen to find out more about John but haven't got very far. What I know about him is via my father who taught at Bedford School in the 70s. I gather that at the time John taught there part time as well. My father was given a print of John's (a woodcut on Japanese rice paper) as a leaving gift from the art department in the early 80s (see attached). I'd love to know any more about John - or indeed this print!
Hello Ed, Thank you for joining the discussion. Unfortunately, we can't help on the question of your print but perhaps more information about John Watson will turn up eventually.