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Mural prompts search for missing artists

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 22, 2014

Library manager Robert Hazel in front of the mural at its new home, Glebefields Library

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TIPTON'S Glebefields Library has recently been given a splash of colour in the form of a huge mural, and though it has only just been installed, the search is on to find who did it.

The huge painting, which is around fifteen feet wide and covers almost an entire wall, originally adorned a room at the Neptune Health Park on the other side of the town, but following a recent refurbishment the multi-coloured artwork found itself without a home.

Step forward Community Library Manager Robert Hazel, who realised that he knew just the place for the mural. Glebefields Library on St Mark's Road has also just undergone a bit of a transformation, with part of the building being converted into a community space and named in honour of former employee Joy Hale, a librarian and storyteller who sadly died last year.

The huge mural was acquired and installed in Joy's Space late last year, unveiled by the Mayor of Sandwell, Linda Horton as part of local history week.

But now Robert is keen to find out more about those who created the artwork in the first place. It's believed to have been commissioned as part of the Tipton Challenge in the 1990s, and there are several names painted on at the bottom right hand corner. They are John Mason, Martin Hubbard, Theresa Holl, Ken Whitehouse, Alvin Martin, Roy Lees, Clive Holmwood and Carol Taylor, and Robert is hoping to get as many of them as possible together to mark the new phase in the life of the mural.

"The group behind it were part of the Murray Hall and Tipton Health Point ACT Project, which no longer exists," Robert told the Bugle. "That's all we know, so we'd love to hear from any of the artists who worked on it, now that it's got a new home and a new lease of life."

The intention was clearly to portray as many aspects of the town's history, and its landmarks, as possible. Right at the centre is the Tipton Slasher, surrounded as it were by the sweeping, orange steel arc of the Angle Ring Company. There are nods to the Battle of Tipton Green, the Tipton cut and its traffic, and the long-lost cooling towers of Ocker Hill power station.

But even aspects of the contemporary Tipton of the '90s have since become history. Stand on tip-toe and look closely at the top right hand corner and you can just make out the level crossing on Owen Street, the bane of every driver who ever passed through the town for generations; finally removed a few short years ago, to widespread relief.

It's this very visual representation of the town's past that Robert feels will encourage local children to engage with their home town.

"One of the things we want to do with the new community space at Glebefields is a creative writing project with local schools," said Robert, "and we came up with the idea of doing one based on what's in the mural. This is why we wanted it here, to spark children's imagination and get them interested in Tipton.

The new community space is now available for the use of community groups and other local organisations looking to hire a room for meetings or gatherings, and is already being used by a local credit union. Plans are also afoot to have regular film shows.

Were you one of the artists who helped create the Tipton mural? You can reach Robert Hazel on 0121 557 1796, or by email: robert_hazel@sandwell.gov.uk

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