£15k must be raised to restore hall mural
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
A FUNDRAISING campaign is being launched to raise £15,000 to help preserve Barnard Castle’s Pittuck Mural for future generations after Arts Council England turned down a bid for cash.
Supporters were told last week that the arts funding body had rejected their application.
The money is needed to pay for urgent restoration work on the mural, which was painted onto the east wall of St Mary’s Parish Hall in 1957 by artist Douglas Pittuck, who taught at Barnard Castle School.
When the deteriorating state of the mural came to light earlier this year, town residents backed calls for it to be restored and a group of supporters formed the Pittuck Group to see how this could be done.
Matthew Read, director of the Bowes Centre for Art, Craft and Design, and a member of the group, said the Arts Council's decision had come as a blow.
However, he said the group had decided to continue with its efforts due to the groundswell of support for saving the mural.
Mr Read said it was not all bad news – the group has received £2,000 from the Mewhort Trust and Mr Pittuck’s daughter has donated one of his paintings to help the cause.
The picture will form part of an exhibition of Mr Pittuck’s work to be staged at The Witham next April, after which it will be auctioned.
Mr Read said he hoped it would sell for between £1,000 and £1,500.
The Bowes Centre is covering the cost of a new survey of the mural to look at what work is required to stop it deteriorating further before any restoration work is carried out. Mr Read said it was likely a Crowdfunding appeal would also be launched.
In the meantime, a public meeting will be held in the parish hall on Tuesday, November 26, starting at 6pm.
“We are going to lay out our proposals and we are interested in hearing people’s views on how we do the fundraising for the restoration.
“Then there is the exhibition. We decided we wanted to go ahead with that, but we also need volunteers to help.
“The exhibition will help raise the profile of Douglas Pittuck, the mural and his work. As well as the picture donated by his daughter, there will be supporting work that has not been seen before.
“We are really keen to hear from people who would be willing to volunteer to help stage the exhibition.
“We are also particularly keen to hear from anyone who would sponsor us – either corporate or individual – and donate to the restoration fund.”
The Pittuck Mural reflects life in the town from the early 1950s. It includes landmarks such as the Market Cross, Methodist chapel, St Mary’s Church and the round tower of the castle.
The Glaxo factory, The Bowes Museum and part of Barnard Castle School are also depicted, along with a typical white Raby Estates farm and houses in Bridgegate, which were subsequently demolished as part of the slum clearance programme.
Various figures from the era populate the mural, from women in headscarves to men in flat caps and schoolboys in blazers. Soldiers from the former Deerbolt camp are also present.
Restoration work was carried out on the mural in 2003, but despite work to prevent damp coming through the wall on which it is painted, it has deteriorated again.
Anyone requiring further information about any aspect of the restoration project and fundraising efforts can contact the Pittuck Group by email – pittuckmural@gmail. com.