William Mitchell at work, 1960

One of the most striking features of postwar architecture and planning in Britain was the use of public art as integral to the design and function of everything from office blocks to housing estates. And perhaps the most ubiquitous exponent of municipal postwar art was William Mitchell, the brilliant concrete sculptor.

His work from this period is immediately recognisable. Usually concrete relief attached to the side of a building, it is formed of primitive marks and shapes built up into large scale decorative pieces, sometimes coloured, often not.

This film from 1960 gives a brilliant snapshot of Mitchell at work on a huge commission for the London County Council for a housing estate in Bermondsey. Mitchell was a design consultant for the LCC from 1957-65, during which time he produced 49 pieces of art for 27 different sites.

It's a terrific short film, full of colour, and is a reminder of a period of great creativity in public art. Also, for me, exciting because his studio would have been round the corner from me in Forest Hill.


  1. Now that Anna's Thai restaurant has moved down the road the skips have arrived at the bottom of the most beautiful block in Croydon - Leon House which faces onto Mason's Avenue and Eldridge (?) road. I think it has planning permission for residential conversion. But just found out about fantastic concrete sculpture by William Mitchell. Am assuming developers will not cover up this building with crappy cladding and destroy Mitchell's work.


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