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Garage Door

Alexandra Road, Peterborough 1978

The Fulbridge Academy Sistine Chapel Project – The Movie……….

Sept ’14 – Mar ’15














West End


Abbey Road

Diner Mural at the Fulbridge Academy

 July – Sept ’14

………..Job done………..

Rainforest Mural at Dogsthorpe Junior School – The Movie

6 – 27.6.14

Dogsthorpe Academy, Central Avenue, Dogsthorpe ,Peterborough PE1 4LH

Celebration Mural at Newark Hill Academy

17 – 19.6.14

This week I returned to the Newark Hill Academy, Peterborough to complete some unfinished business. Before Easter I led a series of image making workshops which culminated in the production of a series of design ideas for a mural project. An outside wall had been identified and proposed as the site for a mural to be painted at the school to celebrate its transition from primary school to academy status, and I was asked to return during the summer term to make the idea become a reality.

SLATER-NHA drawing white

When I arrived on the morning of the 17th the wall had already been prepared, although the size and shape of the area to be painted was slightly different and a little smaller than had been originally suggested. Nevertheless, at 62″ x 110″ it was still going to be on a monumental scale as far as the children were concerned. I made some adjustments to the previous plan and set about transferring the design to the wall.

The Newark Hill school emblem has always included the image of an owl, so to illustrate a connection with the past and the developing present this established identity of the school was selected as the central element of the mural. Owls and flight had been the subject of the image making workshops and the composition was based upon three drawings in particular which had been produced by the children during these sessions.

On Day 2 the group of 12 children that had previously attended my workshops were assembled and during the course of the day 3-4 children at a time worked on a rotation basis to paint the wall. I took the role of foreman issuing instructions and directions, while the children metamorphosed into mural painting apprentices and began applying paint to the wall. During this first painting session all of the work was done by the children and at the end of the school day the mural had taken shape and progressed in leaps and bounds.

The layout has three defined layers and in order to suggest the transition and continuity of the school identity the composition follows the natural pattern of reading from left to right, and the previous school colours of yellow and green develop a transparency as they gradually transform into the emerging purple and grey of the newly established academy.

I made some tidying adjustments to the painting after the children left at the end of the school day and then on Day 3 I continued alone to bring the painting to a conclusion. Although the colours of the original drawings have been altered to adapt to the palette that had been suggested for the painting, my priority as far as was possible was to retain the shapes and style of the children’s work. It was also important when making modifications of tonal values not to lose the painted marks of the previous day either.

The end result is very much a team effort. It may be my design and layout, and my painted marks which completed the project, but the ingredients and substance of the composition, as well as the appearance of the lively paintwork, is very much that of a group of people working together.

The children from my workshop group deserve applause and congratulations for their painterly efforts as they did such a wonderful job. In addition, a special mention and thanks should be extended to Lorraine Brookes too for organising the project. It certainly wouldn’t have happened without you!

Newark Hill9

Caverstede Early Years Centre Mural
– 11 Years Later

It might be fate, it might be bad luck, but over the many years I have been building a digital version of the photographic archive of my paintings I have experienced hard disk crashes on three occasions. The last time this happened my back-up system failed too which caused a large swathe of material to disappear into the ether.

There’s nothing one can do in this situation but to begin the task once more however amongst the numerous writings and photographs lost there are always some pieces of work that can never be retraced again. As far as written work is concerned it’s like having suffered a fire and the same could be said for paintings if they have been sold, and if they are mural paintings they may have deteriorated beyond recognition or even been demolished.

One painting which ‘disappeared’ and caused a gap in my archive was a ‘Bigger Picture’ painted for Caverstede School, Peterborough in 2003 so a couple of weeks ago I made a tentative contact in the slim hope that the painting might still exist. There was a terrific sense of relief when the response was positive. I was told there was a large painting in place at the school, however knowledge of it was very limited as there had been significant changes since my painting was installed, with both Head Teacher and many other staff members having departed.

Back in 2003 the Head Teacher was Christine Parker, who asked if I would paint a large landscape based composition for the outside area of the school. She loved the landscape she drove through as she travelled to work each morning and wanted to share these special features with the children, who she felt may not have witnessed the countryside beyond the city. Several details were mentioned in our discussions about the painting and I then produced a working drawing for her to consider as ‘A Capriccio view of a Cathedral City on the edge of the Fens’. I presented a composite image which suggested the appearance, elements and specific features of the Peterborough landscape without the viewpoint being from a particular location.

Guildford Pencil WD R 1


My working drawing showed that although one side of the city was very flat, on the other side the landscape became more undulating. Flat land also presents large skies with the opportunity for spectacular cloudscape formations, and features such as the cathedral, bridges, shopping centres, parkways, industry, the Flag Fen Bronze Age site and several others were included as integral elements of the composition.


When the painting was installed in its original position it doubled as a climbing wall, so I was particularly surprised to see the painting still standing and in such good condition 11 years later. I was so pleased I was able to photograph it in situ again. The painting had been moved as a new extension had been built and it had been modified too, with some sections cut out to accommodate the architectural features of the new building.

SLATER-Caverstede Edit

I wouldn’t describe the painting as damaged, it has simply been adapted in order to work in its new space. The rainbow is missing, but if you weren’t aware one existed in the original painting you’d never know, its removal hasn’t spoilt it. This certainly isn’t the first time a painting has been altered in order to fit somewhere new and it has happened to far more important paintings than mine, ‘The Night Watch‘ by Rembrandt being an example that immediately springs to mind.

This was a particularly special project for me because Henri, my wife and better looking other half, worked with me on the project too. She had a tougher task to complete though, spending most of her time on her knees as she worked with cement to produce a decorative footpath. To continue the theme suggested by Christine, Henri produced a footpath to appear as though it was an archeological dig revealing clues to the industrial heritage of the city. One section used timbers to suggest the footbridge at Flag Fen, there were tiles as a reference to our Roman past and she also included many old tools, cog wheels, horse shoes, bicycle wheels etc. both as impressions as well as being set into the path to illustrate past occupations of city residents in agriculture, construction, engineering and brick making.

Meeting up with this painting again felt like coming across an old lost friend. As far as Henri’s ‘Heritage’ footpath is concerned, it’s a little uncanny that within the last couple of years archeological excavation work has revealed a grand Roman Villa at Itter Crescent less than a 10 minute walk from the school.

Caverstede Nursery School, Caverstede Road, Walton, Peterborough, PE4 6EX

Image making workshops at William Law Primary

– Ancient Egypt


At the tail end of January I received an email from Darren Smith, First School Team Leader at William Law CE Primary School, Peterborough, with a invitation to spend a day working with some groups of children from year 3 and using Ancient Egypt as the theme. We arranged a meeting the following week which included Bethan Parry, Year 2 Teacher and Art Co-ordinator, and a date was arranged for a charcoal drawing day.

Today therefore I’ve worked with three groups of enthusiastic children and as a conclusion five young volunteers assisted me to share their experiences with other teachers in the school as I led a workshop session for staff.

We’ve rolled up our sleeves and thrown caution aside to create some inventive images inspired by the land of the sphinx, pharaohs and pyramids – with the pulsating rhythm and sounds of Madness never far from my mind! I just wish I’d remembered to take my camera, so many thanks for the pics Bethan!

‘Studio Tango Revisited’

One week before it was set in place I posted a movie on youtube of the Fulbridge Entrance painting in its finished but unvarnished state. Although staff and children at the school were aware of the design, and informed of the progress of the painting through photographs presented as a visual diary on my daily blog, the movie was a ‘sneak peek’ of its actual scale prior to appearing on site. The painting was much larger than my studio space and my only means of assessing the whole composition and whether the sections of the painting worked when assembled was by recording myself putting the jigsaw together.

The original ‘Studio Tango’ was published online on March 7th last year. ‘Studio Tango Revisited’ therefore is an impression of the whole story.

Why ‘Studio Tango’? Continually moving the boards around the studio with outstretched arms during the 8 week painting period felt very much like they had become large and very heavy dancing partners!

Artist in Residence at the Voyager Academy

– The Cave Painting

29.11 – 5.12.13

An area in the entrance to the Academy had been allocated as the location for the ‘cave’ painting which, because of its situation alongside the busy concourse referred to as ‘The Street’, would be passed by all students attending the school at break times and as they moved between classrooms. Progress of the project would therefore be easily monitored and assessed by everyone.

SLATER-Cave1   SLATER-Cave2   SLATER-Cave3

Work began on Friday 29th November. When I arrived Academy technicians Arthur & Liz had already begun erecting a structure using materials which had previously been used as the backdrop for a production of ‘Les Miserables’. Although the image of ‘Liberty Leading the People’ after Delacroix would be painted over I saw this initial starting point as possibly being a lucky omen. ‘Suddenly’ ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ that everything would turn out okay ‘At the End of the Day’.

After the flat 8’x4′ and 4’x4′ panels had been installed and connected, sheets of cardboard were stapled to their bottom edge in order that they reached the floor. More cardboard was attached after being torn into irregular strips to prevent edges appearing straight and formal, and I began the task of painting to create the illusion that the surface might actually be rock rather than canvas and cardboard.


On Monday 2nd December I began working with small groups of year 8 students to paint the ‘cave’ wall. During the course of the week I worked with 10 different groups, each spending just under 2 hours with me. I began each session with a 5-10 minute introduction, showing images on my MacBook, to compare the painting of the Sistine Chapel with the cave in Lascaux, contemporary rock paintings in Australia, cave paintings of hand prints, figures and animals, work by Charles R. Knight, and also Pablo Picasso, in particular his series of etchings of a bull which was manipulated and abstracted in 11 stages. Lastly I showed some images by contemporary artists such as Banksy, and Laurel Barbieri.

Each group worked in both two and three dimensions. To improve the appearance of the cave further, large shapes were constructed using chicken wire and which were then covered with newsprint and paste. Once dry they were painted to represent rocks and boulders. The cave wall itself was painted with hand prints as well as being decorated with shapes of animals, and figures hunting and dancing.


By lunchtime on Thursday 5th December, the painting came to a conclusion and the working space cleared and cleaned. A painting measuring approx. 7′ x 45′ had been constructed, prepared and completed in 5 days which was pretty good going. In the evening, to an invited audience of special guests and parents, the ‘Does Art Matter?’ themed project work and artwork went on display, with a performance of music and dance using the cave painting project as an impressive backdrop.

Many thanks Lindsay, Paula & Sara – it was a lot of fun. And well done year 8!!!

Fulbridge Reception Corridor

– Mission Accomplished!

22.7 – 17.9.13

The Reception Corridor murals at Fulbridge Academy, one wall based upon the book ‘Dear Zoo’ by Rod Campbell and the other The Gruffalo, The Gingerbread Man and Little Red Riding Hood.




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