This striking design depicts a mural painted in 1911 or thereabouts for the main hall of Mildmay Radical Club in North London. It seems to have been one of several murals commissioned for arched recesses in the main hall. The club is still going strong, the hall is very much there, but the murals (and indeed the arches) are no longer visible - though it is at least possible that they are concealed under subsequent layers of paint, paper and renovation.
A representation of the mural survives only because it was proudly placed on the cover of the club's half-yearly report and balance sheet (and library catalogue!) for the latter part of 1911. This is on display in a cabinet on the first-floor of the club. Whether the artist, W. White, was a club member or someone commissioned to undertake the murals is not clear.
The design is intriguing - a flat capped working man surrounded by men all with different headgear and working dress who seem to represent international labour: one looks Indian, another perhaps Turkish or North African and the others, well, perhaps Australian and American.
Some of the imagery is puzzling - a curious shaped container, with a dragon's tail, is spilling out jewels and other items of value ... perhaps the wealth that comes from fraternity and cooperation. There's clearly an Imperial angle here, but it's difficult to read the artist's message (if he had one). It is of course very masculine - apart from a rather aethereal likeness of a woman representing, of all things, 'fraternity'. In the foreground there's a beehive, a common representation of useful toil, along with a cornucopia of fruits and flowers.
There are some points of comparison - check out the headgear! - with the socialist Walter Crane's design from some years earlier on the same theme - fraternity.
There's an even more striking analogy with a couple of the plasterwork figures - attributed to Walter Crane - in the grounds of the King's College Library off Chancery Lane, a remarkable series of plaster panels about which I have blogged before:
I am not suggesting that Crane's work provided the model for the Mildmay mural ... but they do have something in common, especially the hats, caps and turbans!
LATER: Prompted by the comment from Felix Driver, an historical geographer who has written about Walter Crane and his depictions of Empire, I am also posting Crane's imperial map - which posits 'fraternity' as well as 'freedom' and 'federation' as the virtues of Empire:
It's not what you expect on a winter's day on Primrose Hill. Bursts of bright plumage - and darting between branches, birds with a wingspan as big as a buzzard's.
These are two pet macaws being given a bit of exercise by their owners.
Look at the length of those tail feathers!
Primrose Hill is no stranger to the colourful and exotic - the place is bursting with ageing music stars and actors. But this was just something else ...
You'd have to have a hard heart not to be moved by the graffiti that's sprung up on the flank wall of KwikFit - where else! - on Gordon House Road in Gospel Oak.
I don't know whether it's a tale of unrequited love - or just a manufactured street drama ... but I'm curious ...
So, in an elegant blue cursive script, which can't be all that easy with spray paint, the initial graffiti reads: 'A public display of deep affection: I [heart sign] you Mind body, Soul & Kids Lets find the Magic path Luke x'. And no, this isn't from the tenth chapter of the Gospel according to Luke!
So come on, this is quite something - a declaration of a love that will never be exhaust-ed (geddit!??), an affection that cannot be punctured, an amour that will never go flat, a romance that requires no rebalancing, a relationship with no need of a respray ...
The love ditty seems to be addressed - what do you reckon? - to Loo ... which doesn't feel right, and is not the normal way of spelling the short form of Louise (maybe that explains the response, who knows) -
The rejoinder - from 'Loo' or otherwise - is in a bold feminist pink. And it is certainly succinct: 'NO!' - though there is a pink heart sign tagged on, so perhaps all is not lost.
We have no more hope of solving this riddle than working out the 'HOPE' mystery which is another Gospel Oak enigma - but then riddles without a solution are always the most intriguing.
This splendid Tudor baptismal font adorns a suburban parish church barely sixty years old - the rather attractive St Mary's with St George's on Cranley Gardens in Hornsey at the foot of Muswell Hill.
The font was originally at St Mary's on Hornsey High Street and is of much the same antiquity as the tower, the only part of the old church still standing. It later moved to St George's in Hornsey - which suffered a direct bombing hit during the war - and was rescued from the rubble to find, eventually, a new home on Cranley Gardens.
Its current home is an elegant modern church, which was built next door to the older parish hall of St George's. The whalebone shape, modern stained glass and lighting are rather fetching. Have a look -
So the church is, to use a riff on the title of that revered hymn book, a mix of ancient and modern.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!