Cyril Mann gets an Islington People’s Plaque

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Cyril’s widow Renske on Bevin Courts famous stair case

On 28 September 2013 a very special Islington People’s Plaque was unveiled commemorating Cyril Mann

After serving in the Second World War as a gunner, Cyril and his first wife lived in a council flat in Paul Street, near City Road. The flat proved to be the worst possible base for an artist. It received no natural light, forcing Cyril to paint in artificial light. For three years he concentrated on shadow formations, doing small, formalized still-life paintings with a strong use of line and colour. During this period, he painted some iconic images of post-war Finsbury and Islington, including sunlight on Finsbury Square, trolley buses near the Angel, and a luminescent Chiswell Street, all providing rare sparks of colour in a grim world. After teaching at the LCC Central School of Art, Cyril was appointed lecturer at Kingsway Day College and Sir John Cass College, specialising in the ‘Technology of Painting’, in 1950.

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Cyril Mann’s widow Renske, his daughter Amanda and biographer John Russell Taylor in front of Bevin Court

In 1956, the artist moved to a small one-bedroom flat on the seventh floor of Bevin Court in Cruikshank Street, Finsbury (now Islington). Life took a turn for the better when he married Renske van Slooten in 1960 – she also became his model and muse. At this time, Mann gave up lecturing to concentrate on painting full time. Flooded with light, Bevin Court allowed Mann to explore the dynamic effects of sunlight and shadows in a different way from previous artists. He was fascinated – to the point of obsession – by fierce, dazzling sunlight bouncing off surfaces in constant movement.

Cyril and Renske left Bevin Court in 1964, moving to Walthamstow and then Leyton in East London. Throughout the 1960s, and into the following decade, the artist presented his work in a series of successful exhibitions and one-man shows. Suffering severe health problems in the late-1970s, Cyril Mann died in 1980 in his 69th year.

This video of the unveiling of the plaque is from the Piano Nobile Gallery where you can find out even more about Cyril Mann and his works.

 

Bevin Bloggers!

As part of the Bevin Court Community Restoration project we got together with residents from Bevin Court and Ella Medley-Whitfield and Alex Eiseberg from Cubitt to learn how to blog.

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In these sessions we learnt all kinds of things including how to:

  • Understand web jargon – including what we mean by a blog!
  • Upload a blog (a story) to the website
  • Create links to take you to other relevant information
  • Upload images and photos
  • Publish soundbites and oral histories
  • Theme and design our blog

We created the blog you’re reading today and decided what information the community would like to see represented in this community blog. It was a really fun activity and we hope you enjoy reading what else we have been up to.