‘Jump In, Let’s Go!’ Sports Hall Mural at Fosse Mead Primary, Leicester

Jan – June 22

Fosse Mead Primary Academy, Balfour Street, Leicester, LE3 5EA

‘Jump In, Let’s Go!’ Sports Hall Mural at Fosse Mead Primary, Leicester

Jan – June 22

Last spring I received an invitation to visit Fosse Mead Primary Academy. An email had landed in my Inbox which contained a very tempting line, “There is a fantastic sports hall I would like painting”. A date for a meeting was quickly arranged and on 8th June I drove to Leicester to discuss the possibility of a monumental painting project.

It was back in 2015 when I first met Principal Jay Virk. She was at Rowlatts Mead Primary at that time and we’ve worked together several times over the past few years. Having now moved across the city to take on the challenge of a different school, she told me of her plans to improve its status and also to transform its sadly neglected buildings into an educational establishment children in the 21st century deserved.

The main building needed updating urgently and improvements could only be achieved by construction workers being on site for the foreseeable future. However housed in a separate building there was a superb sports facility, which was both ‘tired’ and ‘uninspiring’. It deserved a facelift and was the ideal starting point for children, staff and parents to see that significant change and improvement at the school was actually going to happen.

So what was my impression on entering this building for the first time? The size of the space was enormous, and the prospect of painting its walls filled me with sheer excitement and with fear and dread in equal measure. The atmosphere felt dim and gloomy. A plan is in hand to replace the lighting but this wouldn’t happen immediately, so it was important that some brightness was brought to the room. The project would also be seriously demanding both mentally and physically, and the thought crossed my mind whether I possessed the capabilities to do it.

Despite those doubts, as a disciple of Los Tres Grandes since my days at art school, I simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity of painting on such large walls. On my return home I recalled the two occasions I’d visited the Sistine Chapel to see the jaw dropping magnificence of that wonderful ceiling and altar wall, and reminded myself that I was only the same age that Michelangelo was when he painted The Last Judgement, and the conditions I’d be working under would be far superior to the circumstances he had to face.

There are two sides to that argument though. He may have had to work in war torn sixteenth century Italy but I’d have a multitude of ball games and inside lunchtimes to deal with. Michelangelo never had to commute the distance I’d have to travel each day either. My daily 119 mile A605, A14, M1 adventure was an experience in itself and totalled close to 10,000 miles before I removed the bails and called close of play, and which wasn’t without incident. However, someone ‘up there’ was looking after me.

As for my fuel bill, it’s best not to think too long about it, there’s only one word to describe it. Astronomical. Pump prices rose with each passing week and the prices displayed at the Leicester Forest East Motorway Service Area that startled me when I began in January, ended up being less than what I found myself paying at a normal petrol station when I finished in June. Let’s just leave it at that.

The Design

The brief Jay asked me to fulfil was for the walls of the hall to be a celebration of sport in Leicester, to identify the many clubs one could engage with in this very sport filled city and to inspire an involvement with physical exercise. Not being from the area my research proved an education in itself and revealed some surprises. Leicester is rich with sporting pursuits and must be one of the most sporting cities in the country. I quickly tied myself in knots as I found far more activities than I could possibly include on the four walls.

As well as the better known professional and semi-professional sports such as football, rugby union, cricket, basketball and speedway, activities such as badminton, numerous cycling disciplines, athletics, hockey, American football, rowing, netball, swimming, tennis, squash, roller skating, gymnastics, rugby league, golf, baseball, trampolining, korfball, boxing, lacrosse, bowling (10 pin & flat green), climbing, horse racing, martial arts and petanque are all represented in the city – so I was very aware I could easily offend through omission. All I could do was to make some bold decisions, present my design and hope for the best.

I spent a month working on design ideas before presenting version 15 at a consultation meeting at the school on 18th November as a three dimensional model, which to my relief was given a unanimous thumbs up. At this stage the triangular upper sections of the side walls were still considered as an option to be painted, but were later dismissed. Of the clubs and sports chosen all are accompanied by their relevant logos except for athletics, badminton & swimming. I found such a large number of clubs in existence for these disciplines I decided it would be better to employ the symbol of the national or regional governing body.

In addition to the figures engaged with sport alongside their respective club logos, two further exercise activities were included. ‘Skipping with Henry’ is a timetabled exercise for all year groups, hence the inclusion of a trio of children in school colours placed in the centre of wall 2. Also included in the weekly timetable, as well as being an after school club, is a Dance Fitness class, provided by Moving Together, a creative dance company based in Leicester. This was a late modification made to wall 4.

No photographic references were used for this project, I adapted illustrations I’d found instead which allowed for the possibility of exaggeration and distortion to play its part. A subtle mix of gender and race was naturally an important design consideration too, as were variations in build and stature in order that as many representational elements were covered as possible, to the extent that I even ensured there was a follicly-challenged man! All of the figures therefore are anonymous, all that is apart from one. Although I haven’t actually painted a portrait of Emma, who visits Fosse Mead Primary each Thursday to lead the Moving Together class, the ‘Dance’ figure is based upon a ‘flipped’ photograph of her, taken while performing a Bollywood dance routine in India.

The Mural

I began painting the walls on 6th Jan, the term timetable continued as normal and children and staff witnessed the progress of the mural on a daily basis. Unfortunately, after just a couple of weeks of painting, I returned a positive Covid test and had to self isolate which wasn’t the best of starts, but following this setback eventually a working routine established itself. The children quickly became used to the familiar site of me gradually inching my way around the room daubing paint on their sports hall walls, and I became used to being hit by shuttlecocks and balls employed in a variety of their sporting activities.

My original intention was to paint the anonymous figures in a calligraphic fashion, as though they were applied with a super large Sumi-e brush, which was why I used illustrations rather than photographs as references. Unfortunately I had to abandon this idea due to the texture of the walls which were very unforgiving. Nevertheless I still feel I succeeded in presenting figures in animated dynamic poses suggesting energy and power rather than them appearing like static statues chiselled from stone.

The careful selection of attitude and posture of the figures enables the composition to flow continuously around the space without there being a definite beginning or end. The inclusion of the abstract and spontaneous colour daubs linking these figures, where the graduated colour is determined by the colours of logo or outfit worn in these areas, assists with this impression. The circle element is also a simple graphic geometric connecting device, included in the design for no other reason than to suggest the action of a bouncing ball, or of background soap bubbles floating effortlessly in a breeze.

The painting hasn’t been signed as it remains unfinished. New wall furniture may yet be mounted above the goal on wall 4 so I made the decision that the painting of the swimmer should be postponed. Once this element has been installed the size and position of this final figure and accompanying logo can then be placed in relation to it. As I have been invited to return to the school for another project next year this would be the perfect opportunity to paint the final piece of the jigsaw and complete the circle.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve spent at Fosse Mead Primary and I look forward to working at the school again. The staff and children have been great, they’ve made me feel very welcome and I have many warm memories. The difficult times were when numerous Dodgeballs, Footballs, Basketballs and Cricket balls were flying around the room. The hall seemed to develop a shrinking feeling at those times and my cordoned off space appeared to act like some sort of ball-magnet! My daily leave-home-at-7.45-return-home-at-6.45 routine proved pretty tiring too.

Perhaps the highlights of the last few weeks however, apart from lunchtime visits to the staff room which I often found filled with laughter, would be any class led by Mr Johnson, or Mr Ahmed, as both are excellent teachers. It was a pleasure to be a fly on the wall and be a witness to any activity led by them. Preparations for year group assemblies were also entertaining, the downside being that some of the songs they practised repeated themselves in my head for several days afterwards. However Emma’s Dance Fitness routines on Thursday afternoons were a particularly special couple of hours, when themes such as Musical theatre, Bollywood, Street dance, Samba etc. were explored. There’s always likely to be a reluctant child or two but the larger majority inevitably responded to her infectious enthusiasm and instructions with energy and enjoyment by the bucketload. Not only that, on Thursdays, until the after-school football club arrived at 3.30, I was never hit by a ball!


Facing a delivery from G Penton, eyes on the ball, elbow up, trying not to give him a tickle

As with previous projects my design took into account the ‘afterlife’ of the painting. In addition to its function as a wall decoration I give much thought to its benefit as a learning tool for all year groups by including opportunities for counting, shape and colour recognition, encouraging exploration and expansion of vocabulary and grammar by identification of noun, verb, adjective etc, as well as ‘I spy’, ’Spot’ and ‘Find’ games.

This last example has developed into something personal in recent years. Perhaps inspired by Terence Cuneo’s mice, or maybe by Stephen Cartwright’s Osborne yellow ducks, as a supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club my habit of including their geometric Wolf head logo in the composition has continued into this project. Four ‘Wolfies’ are concealed somewhere in the room however Mr Ahmed, the ‘King of the Whistle’, has already won the prize as the first to locate them all. He’s very competitive and has very sharp eyes, and found them all a little too quickly considering those included in the ‘Vivaldi’ mural at St Brendan’s Primary, Corby and the ‘Reelin’ in the Years’ & ‘Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal’ murals at Meadowside Primary in Burton Latimer have still not been noticed.

I choose odd titles for my murals maybe, they often have a musical association but allude to my own circumstances too. Despite them being commissions all of my ‘Bigger Pictures‘ are very personal as I put so much of myself into them. I don’t approach mural painting any differently to any other painting project. It isn’t a job. They mean much more to me than that.

So why have I given this painting the title ‘Jump In, Let’s Go!’? Well, it’s a statement of encouragement and invitation to anyone and everyone to throw off their inhibitions and engage with physical activity which, as ‘Body Coach’ Joe Wicks would agree, does benefit one’s mental health. Exercise helps you to become ‘fitter, healthier and happier’. But it’s also a line taken from a particularly good song by Sheryl Crow. ‘Every Day Is A Winding Road’ isn’t only a song about somebody’s life, it’s also an apt description of my trials and tribulations to get to Leicester each morning!

Fosse Mead Primary Academy, Balfour Street, Leicester, LE3 5EA

Wall 1

Leicestershire County Cricket Club

Leicestershire Foxes

https://www.leicestershireccc.co.uk/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicestershire_County_Cricket_Club

Leicestershire County Cricket Club Women


Leicester City Football Club

https://www.lcfc.com/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_City_F.C.

Leicester City Women Football Club

https://www.lcfc.com/women https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_City_W.F.C.

Wall 2

BMX & Bike Trails


Leicester Forest Cycling Club

https://www.leicesterforest.com https://twitter.com › leicsforest

Lougborough Lightning Netball


Leicester Running & Athletics Network


Wall 3

Leicester Hockey Club (1885)


Leicester City Hockey Club (1894)

https://www.leicesterhc.co.uk/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_City_Hockey_Club

Leicestershire Badminton Association


Leicester Tigers Rugby

https://www.leicestertigers.com/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_Tigers

Leicester Tigers Rugby Women

Women reach Sevens final in first outing | Leicester Tigers

Leicester Falcons American Football

https://twitter.com/FalconsGridiron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_Falcons

Leicester Lions Speedway

http://www.leicesterspeedway.com/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_Lions

Wall 4

Leicester Rowing Club

https://www.leicester-rowing.co.uk/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_Rowing_Club

Moving Together


Leicester Cobras Wheelchair Basketball


Leicester Riders Basketball

https://riders.basketball/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_Riders

Leicester Riders Women Basketball

https://riders.basketball/wbbl/about-the-wbbl/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leicester_Riders_(women)


Library Mural at Meadowside Primary, Burton Latimer

July – August/September 20

Meadowside Primary, Park Road, Burton Latimer, Northants NN15 5QY

Library Mural at Meadowside Primary, Burton Latimer

July – August/September 20

‘When dark clouds pull the sky
I have cast my eye
To the path where we are treading

Oh I could wrack my brain
Trying to explain
Where it is I think that we are heading’ (Dr Strangely Strange)

It’s been a strange year. We’ve all had to adapt to a new world situation. No-one has been able to follow a regular routine. We’ve had to be flexible and inventive in our working practices, and I’m no exception. Over recent weeks I’ve been reminded of a track from a much played album of my youth, Nice Enough To Eat. As Dr Strangely Strange said at that time, and which feels just as relevant now, it’s been ‘Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal‘.

The pandemic and lockdown, and the sudden sale of my studio, also created a domino effect with my timetable. My previous project had to be painted in two blocks which caused this project to follow in the same vein. This meant that, for a while, I actually had two projects underway at the same time. This has never happened before and I was very uncomfortable about it, so I feel a great sense of relief that both have had a happy ending.

In July last year I completed my first project at Meadowside Primary, the ‘Reelin’ In The Years’ mural painted in a busy corridor. I worked with adults and children walking around me each day, and had conversation with those interested in my progress. But the world was a different place then. This time around circumstances had changed and I’ve painted in relative isolation.

The location was a computer room/library, however as the subject was similar to my previous project, which it overlapped, I have to admit to having feelings of déjà vu. I’ve now painted 6 mural projects with a story book theme, (‘Gruffalo Wood & Dear Zoo‘ at Fulbridge Academy, ‘Gentle Giant‘ at Titchmarsh Primary, ‘Once Upon A Time‘ at Rowlatts Mead, ‘Land Of Make Believe‘ at King’s Cliffe and ‘Vivaldi‘ at St. Brendan’s) and the challenge has always been to ensure that each had an identity of its own. Hopefully I’ve succeeded in producing something distinct, fresh and original each time.

I developed ideas for this design during the lockdown, when I also met with Head Josie Garnham to discuss it and began painting shortly before the end of the summer term. Then I returned in September so, for the second project in a row, it feels an unusual amount of time passed between start and finish date.

An enclosed space this time, with one wall much taller than the other three. Since I’d measured the dimensions of the walls some renovation work had taken place on the roof and I found the ceiling had been lowered, so needed to make an on-the-spot decision and slightly alter the layout of wall 4. The shoulders of the Iron Man should have been the same width as the new bookshelves so that they became an extension of the giant’s body, but in the end this wasn’t possible. In order to maintain the scale of the giant the compromise was to not only lose the top of his head but also to suggest he was standing behind the shelves instead. Despite this unexpected modification I think the design still works.

As with other designs, I prefer not to simply paint a parade of characters, but to suggest a new world for them to occupy, as if they all lived together and know each other. My belief is that this might stimulate children to invent storylines of their own. In this continuous composition I have consciously selected poses that incorporate a variety of facial expressions to encourage descriptive terms and help expand vocabulary, as well as situations offering opportunities for ‘How Many …..?’ and ‘Find The ……?’ games.

When I first visited the Computer Room/Library it was perfectly acceptable and functional, but feel it has now evolved into a completely different learning environment, adorned with characters which were suggested by the children and which all year groups might be motivated to investigate. The bright colours create a warm, friendly and welcoming atmosphere. The room feels much more inviting and a very enticing place to sit and quietly read. There’s a world of imagination to be explored within the pages of books, and what a wonderful space it’s become to spend time in.

Yes we’re living in strange times, but they’re oddly normal too. Sometimes it feels like it’s just a bad dream and that we’ll eventually wake up to find that nothing’s changed. But it has. We have to adapt to the new and odd normal, and blunder on till we emerge safely on the other side. The world isn’t the same place, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s not easy to keep spirits up. Everything has changed, for everybody, so it’s important we surround ourselves with simple pleasures that can make things feel better.

Little things can make a big difference, and I feel very pleased with how this little thing turned out. These are strange times. It’s important to try our best to make good things come out of them.

Story Book Character references:

Owl Babies (Author: Martin Waddell  Illustrator: Patrick Benson)

Harry PotterQuidditch (Author: JK Rowling Illustrator: Chris Wharton)

Jack & the Beanstalk (Fairy Tale) (Illustrator: CB Canga)

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Author: Lewis Carroll Illustrator: John Tenniel)

The Sheep Pig (Author: Dick King-Smith Illustrator: Melissa Manwill)

Stick Man (Author: Julia Donaldson Illustrator: Axel Scheffler)

Winnie the Pooh & Piglet (Author: AA Milne Illustrator: Ernest Shepard)

Percy the Park Keeper (Author & Illustrator: Nick Butterworth)

The Tale of Peter Rabbit (Author & Illustrator: Beatrix Potter)

Stig of the Dump (Author: Clive King Illustrator: Edward Ardizzone)

Three Little Pigs (Fable) (Illustrator: Stephen Cartwright)

War Horse (Author: Michael Morpurgo Illustrator: Rae Smith)

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (Author & Illustrator: David McKee)

Horrid Henry (Author: Francesca Simon Illustrator: Tony Ross)

James & the Giant Peach (Author: Roald Dahl Illustrator: Nancy Ekholm Burkert)

Treasure IslandHispaniola (Author: RL Stevenson Illustrator: Rowland Hilder)

The Iron Man (Author: Ted Hughes Illustrator: Chris Mould)

The Chronicles of NarniaLamp post (Author: CS Lewis Illustrator: David Hohn)

Meadowside Primary, Park Road, Burton Latimer, Northants NN15 5QY

‘Vivaldi’ Mural at St. Brendan’s Primary, Corby

Completed August 20

St. Brendan’s Primary School, Beanfield Avenue, Corby NN18 OAZ

‘Vivaldi’ Mural at St. Brendan’s Primary, Corby

18 – 24 August 20

Following a 5 month interlude, last week I returned to St. Brendan’s Primary in Corby to complete the ‘Vivaldi’ mini hall mural. On the one hand it felt like no time had passed at all and yet so much has happened. It was good to be back, I’ve never experienced such a long interval within a project before and coming back to the painting was like meeting up with an old friend.

It took a short time to pick up my momentum again but the Spring themed wall, which was the last to be painted when the Coronavirus lockdown placed a halt on proceedings, has now reached a conclusion.

Although I say it myself, the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photographs of the mini hall reveal a remarkable transformation. The change that has occurred in our world this year has made many feel uncomfortable and some children may feel apprehensive about their return to school next week. However I’d like to think that this combination of storybook characters within a collection of art history related landscape settings has created very a bright and happy atmosphere, and one that will be enjoyable to live with.

27 March…….

24 August………



Spring Book Characters & Paintings

Almond Blossom 1890  (Vincent Van Gogh)

Horrid Henry  (Author: Francesca Simon Illustrator: Tony Ross)

Day the Crayons Quit  (Author: Drew Daywalt Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers)

Kameido Plum Garden 1857  (Ando Hiroshige)

The Gingerbread Man  (Animation: Barker Animation)

Peter Rabbit  (Beatrix Potter)

Little Red Riding Hood  (Publisher: Usborne Books Illustrator: Stephen Cartwright)

Springtime 1886  (Claude Monet)

Cherry blossoms in the Grove of Suijin Temple and View of Massaki on the Sumida River 1856  (Ando Hiroshige)


Summer Additional Painting

Woman with a Parasol facing right 1886  (Claude Monet)


The whole story……………with a happy ending!

St. Brendan’s Primary School, Beanfield Avenue, Corby NN18 OAZ

Orchard Studio

April 05 – June 20

Orchard Studio Farewell

A white room
My footsteps echo
All has gone

Pause. Deep breath
Silent reflection……….
Time to leave

Nothing lasts forever and earlier this year I was given notice to vacate my lovely studio. It has now been sold, so for the last few weeks I’ve been packing everything up. It’s been a seriously big job. I wasn’t expecting the task to be easy but social distancing measures have made finding an alternative space more awkward. However, now I’m a proud ‘rentee’ of a large storage container, so at least everything has a place to go.

As for a new studio, let’s just say that it’s on my ‘To Do’ list. My next space, which will be studio number 6, will be my last. I don’t like having to face this sort of upheaval. It gets worse every time.

I’ve rented this space for 15 years and it’s felt like home. It was a very sad moment to walk out the door for the last time. Over the last few weeks I’ve found several reminders of the state I was in when I moved there, the place has meant so much to me and it’s saved my life.

Anyway, now I have another new beginning to make happen. It’s tough, it’s unsettling and it’s discomforting, but in the end it all boils down to determination. We all must try our best not to fear change or what the future might hold. Hokusai always looked forward, and that’s the big secret to learn from him. The past is simply the experience gained to assist the work yet to come. The more you look over your shoulder the less you see what’s ahead, and the more likely you are to trip up!!!!

Orchard Studio – Before……During……& After……

“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking into account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.”- Katsushika Hokusai, the old man mad about painting

25 albums that shaped my life

I don’t think it’s ‘Cabin Fever’, but since the lockdown I’ve had some very strange dreams. They often have very surreal storylines featuring people and places I wished I’d taken more effort to try and visit, and they’re always so very mixed up. An interesting one I experienced recently was one where I travelled through a Dali-esque landscape of my past life as well as my overburdened ‘To Do’ wishlist, accompanied by a musical soundtrack overlayed with a succession of album covers.

Obviously my Facebook newsfeed was to blame for this, over the past few weeks I’ve noticed several friends making selections of a series of albums which have been important in their lives. More often than not though, they’ve restricted themselves to only 10 choices, which I would find impossible. However there needed be a reasonable limit, but instead of trying to fit into the 10 album strait jacket I decided I’d allow myself the luxury of slipping into an XL of 25 (of which one is actually an EP).

While it was fresh in my mind and thinking it would be an interesting memory lane exercise to indulge in, I thought I’d reconstruct my dream as a musical self portrait blog. There’s no particular message to accompany them, they’re just personal time capsules that spark memories, which I’ve played to death over the years, and the ones I constantly return to. There’s time aplenty right now to remember those special people, places and moments that’s been a part of one’s life, and the perfect excuse if ever I needed one to share some good memories as a musical message.

Anyway, it’s only a blog of dream inspired lockdown fun, but nevertheless I’d be more than happy to have these as company on my Desert Island. Click the links………..and enjoy!

Golden Age of Lonnie Donegan – Lonnie Donegan

Please Please Me – The Beatles

Nice Enough To Eat – Various Artists

This Was – Jethro Tull

Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli with the Quintet of the Hot Club of France

Death Walks Behind You – Atomic Rooster

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

Elgar – Cello Concerto (Jacqueline Du Pré) & Sea Pictures (Janet Baker)

Led Zep II – Led Zeppelin

Every Picture Tells a Story – Rod Stewart

Split – The Groundhogs

Skid – Skid Row

With a Little Help From My Friends/Joe Cocker! (Doubleback Series)

Innervisions – Stevie Wonder

Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

Beethoven – The Nine Symphonies

The Art of Segovia – Andrés Segovia

Mingus Ah-Um – Charles Mingus

Rattus Norvegicus – The Stranglers

Specials – The Specials

This Year’s Model – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads

Hot Fuss – The Killers

With Love & Squalor – We Are Scientists

Two Parts Diamond – 3 Parts Dirt!

‘Vivaldi’ Mural at St. Brendan’s Primary, Corby

Feb – March 20

Once upon a time…….

A new location, St. Brendan’s Primary in Corby, and a school with a musical reputation. Therefore when Headteacher Leanne Brydon invited me to design a painting with a collection of children’s book characters in four sections for their ‘Mini Hall’, the Red Priest came to mind immediately so I suggested illustrating a season for each wall. The working title for the project therefore became ‘Vivaldi’ from the very beginning. I considered calling it ‘Frankie Valli’, but somehow felt that didn’t work so well.

Leanne provided me with a list of 25 characters and I almost managed to include them all, Thomas the Tank Engine being the one that missed out. Rather than painting a simple procession of figures I created compositions of them within a landscape setting, which offered the opportunity to introduce and investigate images of various styles from differing eras of art history.

There’s always a story behind a picture, and of the person who produced it, and much to learn. For example on the Autumn wall I purposely selected the ‘Tree of Life‘ section of the Palais Stoclet frieze by Gustav Klimt. On the one hand I wanted to suggest a link to the world of decorative arts and surface design rather than another figurative representation of a natural form, but it wasn’t only that, there’s an important current affairs narrative to explore too. Klimt died in 1918 during the Spanish flu pandemic which swept across Europe and the world, which was one of the deadliest in human history. Bearing in mind the trauma of the current Coronavirus outbreak which has now brought this project to a halt, its selection as a comparison was well founded.

This project began with a presentation to a whole school assembly in which I introduced myself and a brief outline of the wall paintings at Altamira, Lascaux and the Sistine Chapel ceiling, as well as the designs I’d proposed for the walls of the Mini-Hall. During the course of the last 23 days I’ve also spent time meeting with several groups of classes and individual children.

However, despite working for the last week in an empty school and being so close to completion, the current government physical distancing advice has forced me to a halt, so unlike previous project overviews, this one is different as the painting is still unfinished. I’m very disappointed but don’t want to be irresponsible, and in any case I must be careful. Although I don’t want to admit it, my recent medical history places me very close to the vulnerable category, an experience which was the subject of a previous blog.

To coin a cricketing metaphor, I’ve decided to pull up the stumps. This blog therefore is only a latest summary of the scorecard as I’m now back in the pavilion. It’s not a declaration, simply a break in play. When conditions allow my innings will continue. It’s very frustrating and I’d like to be able to blame it on the light-meters, or the sort of rain you don’t get wet in, but it’s a tad more serious than that.

Hopefully, once the umpires are back out and considered conditions to have improved, the heavy roller will be ordered and play will resume. Till then, I’m having to take an early tea and dive into a Victoria sponge.

The story so far………


SUMMER Book Characters & Paintings

Harry and his Bucketful of Dinosaurs  (Author: Ian Whybrow Illustrator: Adrian Reynolds)

Wheatfield with Crows 1890  (Vincent Van Gogh)

Winnie-the-Pooh & Piglet  (Author: AA Milne Illustrator: EH Shepard)

The Tiger Who Came to Tea  (Author & Illustrator: Judith Kerr)

Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet) 1890  (Vincent Van Gogh)

Pippi Longstocking  (Author: Astrid Lindgren Illustrator: Ingrid Vang Nyman)

The Cat in the Hat  (Author & Illustrator: Theodor Seuss Geisel)


AUTUMN Book Characters & Paintings

Elmer  (Author & Illustrator: David McKee)

Tree of Life 1905  (Gustav Klimt)

The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Author & Illustrator: Eric Carle)

Peter Pan  (Author: J M Barrie Illustrator: Bob Brackman)

Ejiri in the Suruga province 1830-32  (Katsushka Hokusai)

Mog the Forgetful Cat  (Author & Illustrator: Judith Kerr)

Cruella de Vil (Author: Dodie Smith Illustrator: Marc Davis)

Paddington Bear (Author: Michael Bond Illustrator: RW Alley)

Plop – The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark (Author: Jill Tomlinson Illustrator: Paul Howard)

Biff, Chip, Kipper & Friends (Author: Roderick Hunt Illustrator: Alex Brychta)


WINTER Book Characters & Paintings

The Gruffalo  (Author: Julia Donaldson Illustrator: Axel Scheffler)

Hunters In The Snow 1565  (Pieter Bruegel the Elder)

The Big Bad Wolf  (Aesop)

Three Little Pigs  (Fable)

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland  (Author: Lewis Carroll Illustrator: John Tenniel)

Burglar Bill  (Author & Illustrator: Janet & Allan Ahlberg)

Winter Landscape 1811  (Caspar David Friedrich)

#111 Drum Bridge and Sunset Hill, Meguro 1857  (Ando Hiroshige)


St. Brendan’s Primary School, Beanfield Avenue, Corby NN18 OAZ

…………….at Rowlatts Mead Primary Academy

2015 – Oct 2019

‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’
Nelson Mandela

‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’
Barack Obama

‘They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.’
Andy Warhol

‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’
Mother Teresa

‘No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.’

‘Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.’

‘One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.’
Malala Yousafzai

‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.’
Winston S. Churchill

‘True life is lived when tiny changes occur.’
Leo Tolstoy

‘Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.’
Martin Luther King Jr.

‘All is flux, nothing stays still.’

‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’
Mohandas Gandhi

‘Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.’
― Confucius

‘How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’
― Anne Frank

‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.’
― Stephen Hawking

‘Nothing happens unless something is moved.’
― Albert Einstein

‘It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.’
― Charles Darwin

Some see change as a thing to fear or dread, instead of it being an adventure that has the potential to improve their life. Nothing stays the same, all things change, it is the one thing we can rely on. It is happening all the time, so it’s important to embrace it. Some changes occur beyond our control, which we must accept, but others we can make happen, and for the better, if we can just make the decision to do it.

In the Tao Te Ching (Chapter 64) Lao-Tzu wrote, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, and during the course of the last few years a collection of ‘single steps’ have made a significant difference at Rowlatts Mead Primary Academy. With six large projects by myself, accompanied by numerous structural and painted contributions from Site Manager Matt Hassall, magnolia walls and notice boards have disappeared and in their place a colourful and stimulating environment has emerged. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Rowlatts Mead, but what an exciting appearance it has now!

Here’s the ‘Before’………

…….. and here’s the ‘After’………


Rowlatts Mead Primary Academy, Balderstone Close, Leicester LE5 4ES


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