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Sydenham School appealing for help to solve First World War friezes puzzle
A SEQUENCE of spectacular wall ‘relief’ sculptures dating from the First World War is proving a puzzle and Sydenham School is hoping readers will be able to solve it.
The raised panels date from early in the life of the red brick buildings that made up Sydenham County Grammar School which was built by the London County Council in 1917.
They take up three of the walls in the lower school hall at the site in Dartmouth Road, Sydenham.
And they include one which stretches more than 50ft and features scenes suggesting the increasing sophistication of human transport beginning with walking figures emerging from a wooded wilderness, through to horses and barges and then ending in the use of carriages.
The same transport theme appears elsewhere with depictions of canal barges hauling freight through the English countryside, women on bicycles and also several appearances of further coaches and steam trains.
Friends of Sydenham School member Ken Devine, who is also the school’s resources and IT manager, said: “All searches through the records have failed to unearth information about the artworks now in our Lower School hall, and so the time has come to ask if anyone in the community might be able to plug the gaps in our knowledge.”
The appeal comes at the end of a two year research project into friezes at schools across the country, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Their existence has now been added to the database of artworks in schools and it is hoped with News Shopper readers help they will soon be able to add details such as the artist’s name to the entry.
Headteacher Carolyn Unsted said: “The Lower School buildings including its hall are not going to be affected by the Building Schools for the Future rebuild but at this time of significant redesign, it is appropriate we acknowledge these treasures dating from another pivotal moment in the school’s history – another time of renewal and optimism.”
Call Jerome Monahan on 020 8299 2162 if you have any information about the friezes.