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Recognising Coventry’s Public Art Heritage - William George Mitchell (born 1925)

William Mitchell photo

According to Wikipedia, William George Mitchell was born in 1925. He is an English sculptor, artist and designer, best known for his large scale concrete murals and public works of art from the 1960s and 1970s. His work is often of an abstract or stylised nature with its roots in the traditions of craft and "buildability". His use of heavily modelled surfaces created a distinctive language for his predominantly concrete and glass reinforced concrete sculptures. After long years of neglect, many of William Mitchell’s remaining works in the United Kingdom are now being recognised for their artistic merit and contemporary historic value, and have been granted protective and have listed status.

Recently one of his major works has been Grade II listed by Historic England. The ‘Story of Wool’ is a sculptural mural which is located at the International Development Centre on Valley Drive, in Ilkley, West Yorkshire.

The Story of Wool photo

Other famous works he has done are the bronze sliding doors and carved stone bell tower of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.

Cathedral doors

Cathedral bell tower

Coventry also has an important work by William Mitchell. The decorative cast concrete wall of the former Three Tuns Public House in the Bull Yard was done by William Mitchell in 1966. It is one of over 140 Public Art Works in Coventry.

Three Tuns Coventry

Our Vice Chairman, Paul Maddocks, remembers William Mitchell appearing on several editions of the BBC show Tomorrow's World explaining his ideas for the different public art projects he was working on at that time.

The Coventry Society is concerned about the future of this important piece of art, as it is affected by the City Centre South development. We are pleased to hear that Rachel Lancaster, our Cabinet Member for Public Services, has her eye on it for relocation and we look forward to hearing of her plans in due course.

The Society is planning to organise a tour of Public Art work in the City Centre for Civic Day on 25th June 2016. Participants will discuss which works of art deserve national listing and we will discuss what needs to be done to safeguard Coventry’s rich heritage of public art. This is particularly important in view of Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021.

This is an opportune time to look again at Coventry’s public art, as Historic England are currently holding a major exhibition called “Out There” now open at Somerset House, London, telling the story of post-war public art created between 1945 and 1985. It is time that Coventry’s contribution to public art is nationally recognised.

Updated 30/3/2017

Hertford House foyer by William Mitchell. (At the top of the ramp). 

This entrance foyer to the offices above the shops in Hertford street, has been boarded up for many years. Before they knock down Hertford street this should be saved, recorded or casts made of it. This is another hidden treasure.

William Mitchell, Hertford Street

William Mitchell, Hertford Street

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