Work starts on uncovering ‘priceless’ Giles mural at former Drum and Monkey pub in Ipswich

Bob Entwistle, conservator from Ipswich Museum, starting working at the Drum and Monkey site.

Bob Entwistle, conservator from Ipswich Museum, starting working at the Drum and Monkey site. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The first layers of paint concealing one of Carl Giles’s most important pieces of artwork have been scraped away – but it is still too early to tell if it can be salvaged.

The legendary cartoonist painted a large agricultural-themed mural on the wall of the disused Drum and Monkey pub in Ipswich, formerly named The Sporting Farmer, in 1963.

However, decorators have since covered the picture with thick black paint and then white paint on top of that - possibly damaging or destroying it for good.

Today Bob Entwistle, conservator from Ipswich Museum, has started the painstaking work of carefully chipping away the layers of paint to see if the mural underneath can be preserved.

He said: “Initial enquires are saying the paint is very thin and hard to remove so it is going to be a long job since we don’t know what it was painted with and how many layers of paint there are it’s difficult to say what we are going to find.

Black and white image of the mural created by Carl Giles in the Sporting Farmer pub in 1963, provide

Black and white image of the mural created by Carl Giles in the Sporting Farmer pub in 1963, provided from John Field's collection. - Credit: John Field


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“It is just too early to tell, we have uncovered nothing that looks like a drawing at the moment, just different layers of paint.”

John Field, Giles collector and enthusiast, said it would be “remarkable” to see the mural uncovered intact.

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Around 25 years ago Mr Field went to the pub to view the picture but was “horrified” to find it painted over with dense black paint.

“If we can expose it and keep it as it is it will be a very valuable piece of artwork,” he said. “It would be priceless in every way.

Bob Entwistle, conservator from Ipswich Museum, starting working at the Drum and Monkey site.

Bob Entwistle, conservator from Ipswich Museum, starting working at the Drum and Monkey site. - Credit: Gregg Brown

“Giles worked primarily in black and white but he did do some coloured work and this really is probably his major work of art in terms of coloured presentation.

“It is very much an agricultural scene because of the agricultural links to this piece of Ipswich.”

Carole Jones, portfolio holder for development at Ipswich Borough Council, said if necessary the wall that the mural is painted on could be removed, put in a steel brace and taken away to be worked on by experts.

She added: “Then we would look at future displays for it, either as part of any future development here [at the Drum and Monkey site] or some other display in the town but all of that depends on what Bob finds out today.

“It will stay in Ipswich because we regard Giles as one of our cultural icons and it will be important asset to Ipswich’s cultural treasures.”

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