Free Talk - Forgotten Murals

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The well-loved icon of Liverpool department stores Lewis’s, sadly closed its doors for the last time at the end of May. Prior to that for around the last 30 years the store was mainly recognised for its shopping culture, but until the early 1980s it was much more than a place where you might buy a dress or new handbag.

Before the 80s the store also offered three restaurants and what was at one time the world’s largest hair salon on the fifth floor, until it was closed to the public in the 80s and used as a storage floor ever since.

Many remember the fifth floor, which included some fantastic examples of 1950s interior design, aimed at injecting vibrancy into the post-war years that saw Liverpool’s population along with the rest of the UK, emerging from destruction and deprivation.

The fifth floor flaunted bright colours and light, featuring a Grade II listed unique hand-painted ceramic tiled mural in the cafeteria which once seated 600 people. Created by Carter’s of Poole, the 65 metre-long mural was inspired by a mural at the 1951 Festival of Britain, which celebrated the best of British design. The Lewis’s mural features condiments, utensils, vegetables and cutlery.

A section of tile-mural in Lewis's Department Store

The Lewis's murals featured images of cutlery. (c) Stephen King

On Wednesday 18 August at 1pm, visitors to the National Conservation Centre will be treated to a free talk by Lynn Pearson from the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society in conjunction with the Lewis’s Fifth Floor: A Department Story exhibition. Lynn will speak about the forgotten murals of the 1950s and 60s, including those at Lewis’s which are now to be incorporated into the redevelopment of the building. This is a drop-in event and there’s no need to book.
The first solo exhibition by Liverpool photographer Stephen King reflects his visits to Lewis’s ‘lost’ fifth floor, closed to the public for the last three decades. Lewis’s Fifth Floor: A Department Story is on display at the National Conservation Centre until 30 August 2010.