The Salusbury Whale is Saved!

 
We’ve been busy over Easter, not only did we make good headway with the Outdoor Classroom but we also commissioned the work to Save the Salusbury Whale.
 
Back in 2001 the school set out to celebrate the centenary of its inception including a series of wall murals around the school to commemorate this special occasion for years to come.  Over the years and progressed by the elements, the murals have slowly disappeared as the cost of restoration was more than the school could afford, but when the Whale and Orcas painted on the nursery block to represent the nurturing of a child became under threat, Friends of Salusbury School stepped in to preserve the focal point of our playground and lasting legacy of a previous generation celebrating Salusbury’s longevity as a successful, progressive and inclusive school at the heart of the local community.
 
With time against us it was decided that funds raised from the British 10k Run would be used to restore the mural.  On Sunday 9 July 2017, 25 of our finest parents, staff and friends stepped up to Save the Salusbury Whale and ran the British 10k to raise funds enabling us to commission the original artist, Molly Fletcher, to restore the whale back to it’s former glory.  Due to the need for dry weather, work was scheduled for the following Easter and we waited with anticipation for Molly’s arrival.  Below Molly reflects on the original mural commission and the recent restoration.  We are very grateful to the parents, staff and friends who ran to Save the Whale, those who donated so generously, Lynne Whiteread for her tireless support in this project, Jonathan Sanchez for being so flexible with access to the site, and of course Molly and Tom for restoring the mural back to it’s former glory and ensuring the Salusbury Whale goes on to welcome and nuture many more children for years to come!
 
Saving the Salusbury Whale by Molly Fletcher
I am a local artist and I write and illustrate children’s picture books amongst many other art things.
 
Tom and I had three Wilkinson sons who all attended Salusbury School a long time ago. They are all grown up now: ones a designer/businessman, one’s an engineer and one’s a playwright so thank you Salusbury school for your part in their launch into the big wide world!
 
For Salusbury School Centenery in 2001 the PTA paid for all the murals in the playground. Josie Warshaw a local ceramicist did the mosaic and clay murals and I did the painted ones. 
 
Mine were under the theme of the elements: Wind – the kite mural, Water – the whale and baby (for the nursery), Earth – the centipede, Air – the albatross (for Salusbury World) and Fire – the fireworks.
 
Myself and Elizabeth Armitage who assisted me were asked to have every child in the school involved which then was 750 children.  Each child had to draw a related creature then trace it down on the wall and paint it in. Despite the wettest Summer on record we managed it in the end, even the nursery children printed with a sponge.
 
That was seventeen years ago and due to the exceptional Bristol mural paints we used, the colours have survived well. The Whale mural has even been used in a real ‘Save the Whale’ campaign.
 
The Whale was getting to need a face lift so the PTA again commissioned me to ’Save The Whale’. Over the Easter holidays 2018 myself and assistant Tom Wilkinson repainted it using Bristol paints and sealer throughout. Once again we had to battle against terrible weather with icy winds and torrential rain. A special thanks to art teacher Lynn Whiteread and caretaker Jonathon Sanchez for enabling us to get the job done under very tight time constraints.
 
Hopefully The Whale will now swim on in a cleaner plastic free ocean for another seventeen years.
 
Molly Fletcher