Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cockpit Arts threaten Love Over Gold mural


With the Deptford Dame and Transpontine highlighting an up-coming mural walk by the Mural Preservation Society, we thought we'd chip in with our pennyworth.

Crossfields TRA recently received a letter dated 22 July from Beckie Kingman, Studio Manager of Cockpit Arts, Deptford:

Re: Replacement of doors in ‘Love over gold’ mural

I am writing to inform you about the work that is needed to the doors that form part of the ‘Love over gold’ mural.

We are aware of the importance of the mural to the local community.  However the situation is that the doors and frame are rotting and need replacing. The current doors are also braced from the inside (no viable lock) meaning there is no access to the garden area behind the wall. Our proposal is to replace the frame and doors with metal security doors – powder coated mid grey to match in with that part of the mural. This will ensure the security of the building, whilst also giving us limited access, both for events and maintenance works.  We plan to eventually clear the garden so that the doors can be opened up at certain occasions (i.e. Open Studios) for the community to enjoy. We would hope to display the original doors in the garden area.

Before installing the new doors, we are very happy to be involved with the Deptford X Project.  From 23 September to 2 October we will be featuring an installation by the artist Adrian Lee called Survival Instinct.  The doors to the overgrown garden will be removed and replaced temporarily with a study mesh panel. Please see the attached document describing the event. Following this, the metal security doors will be put in place.

We do appreciate the importance of the mural but we do have to replace the doors and frame as each year they worsen resulting in an ongoing security problem. We feel this plan is sympathetic to the mural as a whole.

I look forward to hearing back from you. If you have any other queries or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Knowing that the rules of Deptford X are that artists may not make contact with a venue prior to being selected, and also that the selected artists for this year's festival had not yet been announced, we called Deptford X to verify Ms Kingman's statement. Not wishing to pre-empt any announcements by Deptford X (due at the end of this week) or jeopardise the working partnership between Cockpit Arts and Deptford X, we can only suggest that Ms Kingman may have been a little presumptious in her schedule for door replacement.

Meanwhile the TRA will be writing to Ms Kingman to request that if the doors are to be replaced, then this part of the mural should be reinstated on the new metal doors. An alternative might be to mount the old doors on the new ones. But there appears to be no proposal in the letter above to reinstate what is in effect the very epicentre of the mural – the queen in her counting house counting out her money.

To help them in this, the TRA will provide the contact details for Gary Drostle, the artist responsible for the mural's design and installation back in 1989. Mr Drostle is more than happy to be involved in the maintenance of the mural, supervising the cleaning and reinstating of the areas of the mural that have been filled in with render (by Cockpit), and to reinstate the image on the doors that Cockpit want to replace. Perhaps funding can be found for a youth arts project to carry out the work under Mr Drostle's supervision. Needless to say, no attempt had been made by Cockpit Arts to contact Mr Drostle.

This is not the first time Cockpit have wanted to get rid of this much loved mural. Gary says, "You'd think an organisation like Cockpit would be supportive..."

See this post to read the part played by the mural in the history of Crossfields' Estate.


  1. it is easy to keep the painted panels. what is needed here is a simple frame on the new steel doors so that the panels can be set in that very slim frame- possibly with some matt finish perspex over them to strengthen the wood panels. that way the image is preserved and the cockpit artists can have their security and flexibility. it must be worth the small extra expense and the win that local artists- past and present can be supportive and respectful of each others work.

  2. That doesn't sound simple to me - doors like that would have to be designed and made by a specialist at a huge cost. Even off the peg security doors are very expensive to buy and fit. Cockpit Arts isn't an evil capitalist organisation with pots of money, they're a charitable trust who provide workspace for applied artists.

    I'm a local resident and I'm very fond of the mural, and I also have a studio at Cockpit. I was involved in the original efforts to negotiate the keeping of the mural. Gary Drostle was contacted and as far as I know he isn't as sentimentally attached to it as some other people are I'm sure I would be the same if it were my own work. I think we have to be realistic. Those of you who wish to reinstate the mural across the door are welcome to do so.

    Beckie Kingman is a conscientious and reasonable person. She has to organise maintenance of the building out of a very tight and ever dwindling budget. Having a go at her is just inappropriate and does you no credit.

  3. Lush Designs, would you care to comment on more recent developments and the post on 7th Oct? Your thoughts would be most appreciated. We hope you understand that negotiations were in the hands of the TRA Chair who seems to have absconded on his commitments resulting in less dialogue for Beckie to act on than if someone else had been tasked with replying to her...x