‘Save Our Art!’ Open Day

Not an April Fools – we had lots of visitors at the museum last Saturday for our Save our Art! event. Visitors learnt more about sculptor Gilbert Bayes, and see the original tailor and draper finials back in Somers Town for the first time since they were stolen.

The weather held out for two guided walks round the St Pancras Housing estates by Steve McCarthy, who showed visitors what remains of Bayes’ art in everyday life and gave them the story behind the 1930s housing and art project.

A celebration with the Mayor

The Mayor of Camden Nassim Ali attended as the event celebrated the return to Somers Town of its lost art – over 100 pieces have been stolen. It was a huge achievement covered by the local paper the Camden New Journal as Diana Foster fundraised £13K in one week to bid at auction in the USA. Such ceramic finials were originally mounted on washing posts in the ‘saints flats’ in Somers Town, in an effort to enhance lives of local people. As the St Pancras Housing Improvement Society said: ‘Housing is not enough‘ in the belief that people deserved ‘art in everyday life’, beauty and culture no matter our circumstances.

Here are the two finials that the museum now has:

Our two new finials are of two tailors, a reference to the rhyme ‘four and twenty tailors went to kill a snail’. Many of the artworks reference fairytales, including sleeping beauty, the princess and the swineherd and the little mermaid, which are depicted on the lunettes you can still see around the estate. This gave it the nickname ‘the fairytale estate’!

As well as the guided walks, we had activity at the museum: a screenprinting workshop, a film on Bayes and, of course, the two new finials, displayed at the museum for the first time!

Learnt loads about what was just around the corner to us at Maria Fidelis… amazing. Really enjoyed Steve’s walk. I think Jellicoe should be a subject on ‘In Our Time’ on Radio 4.

Museum visitor

There are still tons of stolen artworks out there, being auctioned off to private collectors. That’s why we’re asking for donations to buy more, and to preserve and display the existing ones here in Somers Town, where EVERYONE can enjoy them – please donate here.

Newspaper Headline: Stolen Art Back from the USA

By Katie Devlin

I am a local resident and interested in history!