Huge William Scott mural reappears in public as part of Derry-Londonderry City of Culture

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 November 2013

A mural which was William Scott’s largest artwork, rarely seen in public despite taking the artist two years to complete, has reappeared at a gallery in Northern Ireland more than 50 years after first being glimpsed at the Tate in London.

A photo of a large multicoloured mural on the wall of an art gallery
William Scott, Altnagelvin Mural (1959-1961). Oil on plywood© William Scott Foundation, courtesy gordon gallery, Derry
The Altnagelvin Mural, made across 15 panels of oil on plywood, was commissioned by Eugene Rosenberg, the architect of the first post-war NHS Hospital in Britain, in 1958.  Scott began the first stage of its creation in 1959, with Mark Rothko becoming one of his first peers to see the work in its embryonic stage.

"The mural is the largest single work my father painted,” says Robert Scott, the eldest son of the artist who died in 1989.

“It is over 46 foot long and probably the most significant by a 20th century artist of his generation.

“It is fitting that the mural, which was created for the Altnagelvin Hospital, is being exhibited in Derry-Londonderry City of Culture 2013.

“This is also the year that we are celebrating William Scott's centenary, so it is wonderful that it can be enjoyed by locals as well as visitors who are coming to participate in the cultural celebrations."

Originally shown in a special Tate exhibition before being installed in Derry in 1961, the re-emergence of the mural, at the gordon gallery, is its first since an exhibition held in Belfast four years ago. Organisers say it will be “some years” before it appears in public again, when it is expected to be installed on a specially-built wall at the hospital.

Its display at the gallery has been timed to coincide with the run of the Turner Prize at Ebrington, continuing until January 4 2014.

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A photo of a large multicoloured mural on the wall of an art gallery
© William Scott Foundation, courtesy gordon gallery, Derry
A photo of a large multicoloured mural on the wall of an art gallery
© William Scott Foundation, courtesy gordon gallery, Derry
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