Sorrell’s children seek listing of Myton mural

Alan Sorrell painting the mural, with his son Richard sat close by. Picture from the Sorrell family.
Alan Sorrell painting the mural, with his son Richard sat close by. Picture from the Sorrell family.
  • The Four Seasons mural was commissioned by the then Oken school in the 1950s
  • The Queen Mother visited the school to mark the official opening, and it has been since described as an important artwork
  • The mural was covered with white boards over the summer in a decision which has been criticised by former teachers and art lovers

Alan Sorrell’s children have joined calls for their father’s mural at Myton School to be uncovered after launching an application to have the important painting listed.

Over the past fortnight, the Courier has reported on the upset following a decision by the school to cover the long-standing mural of The Four Seasons with white boards.

School management said the decision to replace the 1950s artwork with “relevant and up-to-date displays” (pictured) was taken to help develop the “employability of pupils”.

But as well as former teachers, staff, councillors and residents writing to express disappointment at the decision, Sorrell’s children, Richard and Julia, have spoken of their upset - and efforts to ensure the piece is protected.

The mural was painted into the plaster of the school hallway after being commissioned at the then Oken School over 60 years ago.

Richard Sorrell, who has written on his father’s work and is pictured visiting the school while the mural was in progress, said although Historic England may be unable to list the work, there is still hope of having it preserved.

He said: “Paintings are to be seen and to enrich and enhance the lives of everyone and not be covered in a plywood shroud.

“This splendid painting with its humanising subject of the seasons could hardly do other than enrich the school environment and inspire children and any who see it.”

Last year the John Soane Museum held an exhibition dedicated to Sorrell’s work. The Four Seasons is the largest example of a Sorrell mural in its original location, which his daughter Julia said made Myton’s decision more disappointing.

She told the Courier and Weekly News that although the listing application may take time, she is hopeful for change.

My father’s contribution was enormous with his visualisation of our heritage and Myton should feel so proud to have such a piece of work by such an important artist

Julia Sorrell

She said: “I am absolutely appalled to hear my father’s most impressive mural has been covered up.

“There are comparatively few murals in this country and surely we should value and protect those of such a high standard as this one.

“Paintings of this quality should be considered part of our heritage and not be subjected to potential damage by a whim of the moment.

“My father’s contribution was enormous with his visualisation of our heritage and Myton should feel so proud to have such a piece of work by such an important artist.”

The Society of Antiquaries featured the Courier’s story in its latest newsletter, and several leading art writers are thought to be backing listing for the work.

A Myton School statement read: “We appreciate we have some wonderful artwork in our school, some of which we may decide to replace, rotate or protect as we adapt our educational environment.

“In some instances artwork is carefully covered and protected so that it can be opened at a future date.

“We currently have relevant and up-to-date displays which fit with our strategy for developing the key learning habits for employability for our students. This in no way precludes other artwork being on display in the future.”

The school's replacement display

The school's replacement display

The mural was visited by the Queen Mother

The mural was visited by the Queen Mother