The Head for the Hills mosaic mural (1986) was the culmination of a two year project in which users of Manchester mental health service, staff and artists (of whom I was one) made expeditions to the Derbyshire Peak District, and engaged in the campaigns led by veteran Kinder Scout Trespasser Benny Rothman to protect and extend public access to the wild places.
Although the slide does not reveal the rich colour, nor the scale, of the original mural, its faded and annotated image is poignant and especially saddening as the mosaic itself was destroyed during a hospital ‘refurbishment’ in the 2000s. In 1986 I had described the piece as a monument to the shared experiences of a disparate group of people, some of whom might in years to come show to their grandchildren. Well, that wasn’t to be, then.
In 2012, two students of Contemporary Art History worked with me to make a small scale replica of the mosaic. This project formed their end of course exhibition. The replica will be installed at a visitor centre in Hayfield, planned to commemorate the 1932 Kinder Trespass.
The abandonment and destruction of priceless objects and images is a terrible, shame-invoking thing. They are the building blocks of our evolving futures. A photographic slide, with its wide and annotated surround, is a luminous portal through which past, present and future flow freely. If we let them.
Dr Langley Brown
Arts for Health Visiting Research Fellow at the Manchester School of Art