Ceramic murals installed at school 40 years later

A set of ceramic murals have been installed at Waltham St Lawrence Primary School – more than 40 years after they were originally created there.

Beryl Tilley, 89, was a teacher at the school in School Road in 1978, and designed the artwork with her class of 10 to 11-year-olds.

They were inspired by the shapes and textures at Starworks clay, chimney and tile factory in Star Lane, Knowl Hill, leading to Beryl and her artistic class creating a clay mural that shows the workers, machines and different types of items produced.

Another mural was made in the same year, this time inspired by a trip the class made to The Pound in the centre of the village. The scene – a typical bustling pastoral image – led to the creation of a mural which focuses on the different people there.

“We were studying our area and looking at the people of the village and what jobs they do and this included the clayworks,” Beryl said.

The children crafted the shapes while Mrs Tilley assembled and secured the separate pieces onto a sturdy frame, which had been displayed at her former Maidenhead home in Switchback Road South until 2017, when she moved to Swift House retirement home in St Luke’s Road.

Waltham St Lawrence school has looked after them since, and proudly installed the murals two weeks ago to give current children a taste of what was created by those before them.

“The whole point of the project was to provide a wider learning experience combining art and craft, social studies and English,” Beryl added.

“I love tactile arts and creating an artefact that can be physically touched and held.

“Children love working with their hands making something that is meaningful. By working with the clay, they could experience making something tactile and textured, something that lasts.”

Lara Cory, 41, a friend of Beryl’s, helped to get the murals installed in their original home.

“I have always loved Beryl’s work, whether it’s her sketches, prints, weaves or ceramics. She has the spirit of a true artist,” she said.

“Mrs Ellerton (headteacher at Waltham St Lawrence) has been instrumental in bringing this art back to life.

“The display of these murals is important because it’s a piece of local history and a legacy of when arts and crafts held a more significant role in education and in life.”