A row has erupted over a decision to cover up a famous and possibly valuable painting at Myton School after claims the piece could be damaged and should be on show for pupils.
Art lovers and councillors have raised questions over the decision by school staff following a decision to cover the fresco-style painting with white boards during the summer holidays.
There is virtually no damage to the mural and it has been loved and appreciated for generationsRay West
The 16-metre long mural of The Four Seasons, which is painted into the plaster along the school’s hallway, was created by London-born artist Alan Sorrell in 1958 after being commissioned by the town.
The painter and illustrator found fame during his lifetime and his work is exhibited in galleries including the Tate.
The Warwick mural was the last to be painted by the artist before his death in 1974.
After the cover-up was raised at a meeting of Warwick Town Council last month, Cllr Martyn Ashford said it was vital they ensure nothing is done to cause damage.
Claiming that the work could be worth up to £1million he said: “A work of art is being hidden away unnecessarily when it could be part of the artistic treasures of Warwick.
“I think it is a disgrace, and that it is behind boards is potentially damaging.
“Alan Sorrell has work in the Tate and this painting is possibly worth over a million pounds. It should be on display for people to enjoy.”
The initial concern was raised by former member of staff and town resident Ray West, who has begun a campaign to have the mural uncovered after it was listed as an important piece of artwork by the Tate.
Mr West, a former teacher, said: “This came as a great shock to many people. There is virtually no damage to the mural and it has been loved and appreciated for generations.
“What does this teach pupils about art appreciation?”
Town councillors gave unanimous support to a proposal to seek clarification over the position of the artwork and its future.
The clerk will now write to the school, asking that any covering will not lead to lasting damage of paintwork.
But staff at Myton have defended their decision as in keeping with a modern education system and as a way to display works by pupils.
A school statement read: “We appreciate we have some wonderful artwork in our school, some of which we may decide to replace, rotate or protect as we adapt our educational environment.
“In some instances artwork is carefully covered and protected so that it can be opened at a future date for our school community to enjoy.
“We currently have relevant and up-to-date displays which fit with our strategy for developing the key learning habits for employability for our students now and in their future.
“This in no way precludes other artwork being on display in the future.”
It is recorded that after being commissioned to complete the work, Alan Sorrell found the plastered walls inferior and ordered they be stripped and recovered.
The artist lived with his dog- who features in the mural- in a caravan on the school site while he worked.
The painting also features figures based on workers and characters from the school.