New College of the Humanities

Piper's Mural: Home From Home

Almost none of the large outdoor artworks commissioned for the 1951 Festival of Britain has survived. Alan Powers discusses one that did, a mural by John Piper, which returns to London’s South Bank this month.

The Festival of Britain took place in the summer of 1951 and was more a self-examination of the host country than an outward-facing international display. In this act of introspection the idea of home was given especial prominence. Britain was presented as a ‘home’ country and visitors to the South Bank exhibition arrived, for the climax of the suggested route, at ‘the story of the People of Britain in the context of their more domestic life and leisure’. Here the long narrow pavilion for the Homes and Gardens section, designed by Bronek Katz and Reginald Vaughan, offered the experience of modern interior design applied to the bedsits, television lounges and hobby rooms that were foreseen as the foundations of future domesticity.

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