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Issue 1847 (PDF)
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

Imperial withdraws application for ‘nightmare’ Roderic Hill mural

Students had decried the artwork as ‘ugly’ and out of touch.

Roderick Hill Mural


in Issue 1847

Imperial quietly withdrew its planning application for a mural on the western wall of the Roderic Hill Building in February.

Approached for comment, a spokesperson for Imperial College London said: ‘Following discussions with Westminster City Council, it became clear that it would not be possible to secure approval for the mural in the timeline needed for the project to go ahead and we therefore withdrew the application.’

Students and staff had objected to the artwork, decrying it as ‘ugly’ and out of touch with Imperial’s values.

College President Hugh Brady and Professor Omar Matar, head of the Chemical Engineering department which is based in the Roderic Hill Building, both issued letters in September last year claiming students and staff were ‘enthusiastic about the project’.

But occupants of the building including student representatives said they had not been consulted by the College, adding that the mural was incongruous and ‘really poorly made’.

An objection submitted to Westminster City Council in December claims that ‘there was limited consultation regarding the proposed artwork’, but that ‘the one meeting that was held was not satisfactory. The picture was deemed ugly, a nightmare, and on the “dark”/witchy side. Also it was suggested that it did not fit in with the values of the Imperial College.’

The author of the objection comment – who purports to work in the Chemical Engineering department – contends that ‘the “artists” seemed to be against changes.’

The mural was estimated to cost up to £2m and was commissioned and paid for by the United Nations Environmental Programme. It was designed by Vesod, a Turin-based artist selected by the UN to work with Imperial.

The College’s withdrawal of its planning application came less than a year after Westminster City Council rejected its previous proposal – for an almost identical mural on the adjacent Blackett Building.

Students and staff submitted 37 objections to the earlier application, describing it as ‘meaningless’ and taking issue with the ‘outdated and somewhat sexualised representation of mother nature as a white woman’.

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