Esoteric London

No. 317: Saunders Ness Road, E14

Posted in Public Art, The Thames by esotericlondon on May 17, 2011

St Luke’s CE Primary School, Saunders Ness Road, Cubitt Town, Isle of Dogs, London, E14. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

William Kempster, (1914–1976) was a painter, mural artist, print-maker and illustrator. He studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and later at the Royal College of Art. Kempster’s career was mainly exhibition work, and he undertook mural and poster commissions for, among others, the Central Office of Information and the Festival of Britain, illustrating aspects of British life and work.

One of his murals adorned the entrance of Terminal One at Heathrow when it first opened but as far as I can ascertain, it is no long there. In fact the only example of his mural work I can find is the one photographed above which is in St Luke’s CE Primary School on the Isle of Dogs. Executed in 1952 it shows the docks as children attending the school at the time would have known them. R.D.

7 Responses

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  1. philip athill said, on May 17, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    It is very interesting to see the quality of this mural; we have had work by him from the 40s through to the 70s and there is a consistent integrity in his compositions and textures that makes him very identifiable. Someone, somewhere must know more about the man!

    • Larraine Hockley Moore said, on December 29, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Hi, I was very interested in your response……I have a piece of original artwork that was produced for a mural in the early 60’s at the New Commonwealth Institute (now gone). The finished Mural was very large and in the Australasia section I believe (I was a junior designer on the exhibition installation). I have always thought that the artist was Barbara Jones but having done some further research on same, find that it is thought some other mural artists were involved ie. William Kempster! You state that his style is very identifiable and would love to have your opinion on my painting. It is a detailed very proficient gouache on board. on an abstract scientific theme with lovely rich greenish / blueish colouring.
      I believe this artwork is now possibly, one of very few remaining images of the 60’s exhibition.

      Hoping this may be of interest to you and that you may be able to help me identify the artist.

  2. esotericlondon said, on May 18, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Hi Philip
    I agree, somebody must know a bit more about him. I have sent a link to the 20th Century Society with the hope that someone there can give me some more information. I will let you know if I find out anything.

  3. Stuart George said, on February 6, 2012 at 4:45 am

    The Heathrow mural does still exist – it has been moved to somewhere within Terminal 1.

    • esotericlondon said, on February 6, 2012 at 8:34 am

      Fantastic news Stuart I am heading out to Heathrow the first chance I get

  4. karenjupp said, on June 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    This is indeed in the school I used to see this every day as a child and took no notice but looking back at it now it seems very austire and something that may not have interested children so strange that it should have been in a school


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