PRESS RELEASE: New publication shines spotlight on threatened Oldham mural

19th March 2021

A new book on George Mayer-Marton highlights the life and work of the Hungarian émigré artist - including his Crucifixion mural in Oldham's Holy Rosary Church - the focus of a current SAVE Britain's Heritage campaign.

Entitled 'George Mayer-Marton's Murals & Mosaics' and published by Baquis Press, this publication features other known works by Mayer-Marton including his murals in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, and St Clare’s RC Parish Church, in Manchester.

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE Britain's Heritage said: "This little book is a fantastic reference for anyone interested in post war British public art - it shines a light on the important contribution émigré artists made to Britain in the post war period, and most critically it highlights the significance of the Oldham mural and our current campaign to save it."
An online book launch hosted by Insiders/Outsiders will be held on Monday 22nd March. Speakers include Clare A.P.Willsdon, Professor of the History of Western Art at the University of Glasgow; Gordon Millar, who assisted the artist in creating the murals during the 1950s; and Nick Braithwaite, Mayer-Marton’s great-nephew.

For more information about the event see here.

Baquis Press has very generously donated 75 copies of the book to SAVE - these are on sale on our website now for £5.00 (plus p&p) All proceeds go directly to our work.

The Oldham mural was completed for the Catholic Church by Mayer-Marton in 1955. The church has been redundant for over three years and the mural is increasingly at risk. SAVE is helping to seek a solution.

The mosaic crucifixion was originally surrounded by wall paintings depicting the figures of Mary and John the Apostle against a background of various shades of blue. Historical photographs show that the wall painting extended over the entire wall, but in the 1980s the fresco element was painted over. New evidence has concluded that the fresco remains intact under the paint and that it is possible to restore the mural to its original condition. The significance of the mural has also been highlighted by a number of national experts including the Twentieth Century Society, the Ceramic and Architectural Tiles Association as well as several leading academics and architectural historians. 
The 7.5m long mural depicts the figure of Christ in golds and tans against a dark blue cross and gold mandorla. It was commissioned following the Festival of Britain when public art came to be seen as a symbol of civic renewal and social progress.
SAVE is supporting a listing application to Historic England which is also backed by Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A Museum, Amanda Draper, curator of art and exhibitions at the Victoria Gallery in Liverpool, Claire Brenard, curator at Imperial War museum, and Karen MacKinnon, curator at the Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea.
The Diocese of Salford which owns the church has commissioned a conservation options appraisal to examine the best way of preserving the mural. This study is due to be published imminently.

Find out more about our campaign to save the Oldham mural here.

Buy your copy and support the work of SAVE here.


Note to Editors:

1. For more information and images contact Ben Oakley, Conservation Officer at SAVE Britain's Heritage: / 07388 181 181.

2. Images: Mosaics and Murals publication, mosaic St Clare's, Blackley an excerpt from Mosaics and Murals publication, George Mayer-Marton at work (credit Estate of GMM).

3. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.