Artist’s son reunited with vanished murals
Artwork depicting Camden history mysteriously disappeared from Town Hall
09 January, 2020 — By Tom Foot
Dorian Osbourne at the Crowndale Centre with his wife Mary to see the murals his father created in the 1960s
THE son of a celebrated artist who painted Camden history murals which mysteriously vanished from the Town Hall has been reunited with them, more than 50 years later.
Dorian Osborne remembers watching his father, East London Group artist Cecil Osborne, create the pieces in the family home in Belsize Square in the 1960s.
Mr Osborne came with his wife from Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, to see them hanging in the Crowndale Centre, Mornington Crescent. “It’s wonderful to see them up like this,” he said. “I remember well him painting them, the first one and second one were started in the rear room of the house in Belsize Square. Father was always full of stories about how things had been, and going back further in time than he remembered.”
Cecil was working for the old St Pancras Council when he was commissioned to create the artworks that hung in the Town Hall for decades.
They depict what is now Camden in an array of artistic scenes, including the Euston Arch, Hampstead Heath, Senate House in Bloomsbury, former pubs of Camden Town and St Pancras, and the Royal Free, among many others.
Some of the figures in the murals are based on Cecil’s own family photos and also the “Bisto Kids” from popular gravy commercials of the time, Dorian said.
The New Journal reported last year how a collector had found the paintings in a clearance sale in the early 1990s and put them up for auction last year.
The council bought them back and have now framed and hung them in the entrance to its Eversholt Street building. Dorian remembered his parents going to Inverness Street to buy the week’s vegetables and how his dad gave him “adventurous and exotic” books such as Fanny by Gaslight, Candide by Voltaire, and The Pickwick Papers.
He said his mother, who met his father in New End, will be 100 years old in March, adding: “Mother would have been a suffragette, very socialist. Father was much more down the centre.” The council paid around £1,800 for the Osborne triptych that is now on public display in the Crowndale Centre.