PRESS RELEASE: Colchester Pioneering Public Art receives £52,000

Colchester Civic Society has been successful in its application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for funding to support the restoration and interpretation of a series of murals by artists Henry Collins and Joyce Pallot in Colchester’s Southway Subways. The project is a collaboration with Colchester in Bloom and the organisations will work together to realise both the murals’ renovation and community engagement programme.

Colchester Civic Society has received (£52,000) from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the programme of full restoration of the murals, their interpretation and a programme of community activity. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will ensure that these important public artworks are conserved, their significance realised and enjoyed by current and future generations. The artists Colchester husband and wife team, Henry Collins (1910-1994) and Joyce Pallot (1912-2003) worked with local builders Hutton to pioneer new techniques using concrete and their work was commissioned for sites across the UK making them important contributors to the post war public art movement.

This exciting project encompasses a wide programme beyond the murals’ restoration. It includes working with the area’s school children and young filmmakers as well as Civic Society and Colchester in Bloom members. It will produce a new film documenting their restoration and responding to the murals’ historic subject matter, a new leaflet and family trail, a series of workshops for young people exploring the mural techniques, conservator career talks for secondary schools and a set of new interpretation boards telling the story of each mural. It will involve many partners from Signals, to firstsite, Colchester & Ipswich Museums, Colchester Art Society, Colchester Recalled and Colchester Arts Centre.

The artists worked as a team on their public mural work, which began as they were commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951 (Sea and Ships Pavilion.) Their first mural in concrete was in 1969 in their home town of Colchester. A commission from Sainsbury’s with Stanley Bragg
Architects for the external wall of their store in Priory Walk. This was the first of its kind in the country, and the couple went on to be commissioned by Sainsbury’s, British Home Stores and many local authorities across the UK. Now over forty years old the series of murals across the
Colchester Southway subways are important examples of the artists’ early work. 

Jo Edwards, Chair of Colchester Civic Society said: “We are thrilled to have received support from the Heritage Lottery Scheme for this project which supports our work to preserve and celebrate the significance of Colchester’s heritage across the centuries.”

Pam Schomberg, Chair of Colchester in Bloom said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Civic Society and a range of community groups on this project and especially with young people who will discover the murals with fresh eyes and bring new insights to their

Notes to editors
About Colchester Civic Society
Colchester Civic Society (est. 1964) is a volunt