The concepts and practices of urban mural painting since 1970 : artists' perspectives.
Mural art has become a familiar feature of urban-public places. This is reflected within a
broader debate on 'public' and 'community arts' by the number of books and articles
published, conferences held, attention within art institutions, agencies for funding. and
public reactions. The modern mural movement, especially in terms of 'community'. has had
strong socio-cultural and political bonds, particularly since the end of the 1960s. However,
although 'public', 'community' and 'environmental' art has received much attention,
specific literature on the urban mural is limited.
The research involved the coaecnon and selection of primary and secondary sources.
analyses and interpretation of the questionnaires and interviews, personal experience,
observation and collaboration in practical work, and site visits in order to identify the
social, cultural, architectural and collaborative characteristics of murals and explain them
within an urban context. Therefore the research is historical, analytical, experimental and
The urban phenomenon has started to be understood within its socio-cultural as well as its
architectural framework, indeed the changing locations of mural art has focused attention
more on the former. The findings of the literature review, analyses of the questionnaire, and
the experiences of personal practical work, suggest that the dominant am of the modern
urban murals is to democratise art, and humanise urban spaces.
Within an increasing number of other types of 'public' art works, mLl'als seem less
important at present, yet the study suggests that an increasing number of murals have been
made in recent years. Due to their accessibility murals are an important visual pan of the
urban landscape and reveal more developed ideas of locally related content mutually agreed
styles and the effect of artistic and public collaboration.
In conclusion the dissertation argues for a clearer understanding of the different roles and
expectations of public and community art within the modern urban mural and an improved
awareness of the complexities of negotiation and collaboration. It uses a range of readings;
historical, social, cultural and artistic values to construct a multiple typology where
parallel sources and influences are revealed. The current variability in the quality of art in
public spaces might benefit from specific courses which introduce the idea of collaborative
working alternative collective aesthetic values and a new role for an integrated artist. The
study shows that local characteristics and community identity are paramount in arts
integration within the urban context. and that connection with (urban) sociology and (local)
cultural studies might help to develop a more critical language and understanding of art in