Four magnificent colourful legacy murals created by art educators and ceramics specialists, Liliana Montoya and Carlos España of Aluna Ceramics, were unveiled in Jeffries Passage in Guildford town centre on Monday 16th May. The beautifully designed ceramic murals are a fitting tribute to mark the 2019 400th Anniversary year since Archbishop George Abbot founded the almshouse in 1619 as a place of refuge for the elderly people of Guildford “out of love to the place of my birth”.
Prior to the unveiling, guests gathered in the sun-drenched courtyard of Abbot’s Hospital. Colin Mullis, Chair of Governors, welcomed the Mayor of Guildford Cllr Dennis Booth and the Mayoress Mrs Booth and Aluna Ceramics on behalf of the Governors and the Master of Abbot’s Hospital, Ian Bowler. Guests then moved to Jeffries Passage to unveil the four murals. The panels were unveiled by the Mayor and Mayoress of Guildford, Aluna Ceramics, the Chair of Governors and residents Ian Henderson and Margot Betts of Abbot’s Hospital. They are on permanent public display.
Husband and wife team Liliana Montoya and Carlos España designed the panels with the assistance of a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. They were chosen in 2019 to lead and deliver the Abbot’s Hospital Memorial Community Arts project and have created a wonderful experience for those living in or visiting Guildford. Each panel depicts dream-like scenes of Abbot’s throughout the centuries. The first panel in the entrance to Jeffries Passage is dedicated to Archbishop Abbot, as well as reflecting the history and impact his legacy had and still has on communities and residents over the last 4 centuries. They also include illustrations of historic events and changes that have taken place throughout the Grade I Listed building’s lifetime including poppies to signify war and remembrance, the battle of Dunkirk, the Abolition of the Slave Trade and the invention of Penicillin. There is a delightful tribute to the 1960’s era and music depicted with a “Yellow Submarine” Beatles tile. Eras have been thoughtfully and intricately detailed in what is exquisite craftsmanship with images flowing from one century to the next. There is something for everyone in each of these murals.
Ms Montoya and Mr España worked with the Abbot’s Hospital residents and students from Wey Valley College and George Abbot School on design concepts. The pupils helped to create some of the tiles, learning new crafts skills; their ideas and work is shown in the panels for future generations.
Archbishop Abbot was keen that residents should be able to learn new skills. It is therefore fitting that the panels are located close to The Old Cloth Hall, which he originally set up as The Manufacture in 1629, a venture to provide retraining skills for unemployed weavers.
The public display of these panels is a triumphant tribute to mark the culmination of the 2019 anniversary year assisted by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund which included a number of successful community events, including an immersive exhibition at Guildford House Gallery and a short anniversary film: www.abbotshospital.org/400th-anniversary-film/.
Although the panels are to celebrate 400 years since the laying of the foundation stone for Abbot’s Hospital, it is relevant they should be unveiled in 2022 as this year marks 400 years since the first residents moved into the Hospital.
The magnificent, ethereal tiled legacy panels are on public display along the wall in Jeffries Passage, situated next to Abbot’s Hospital and opposite Holy Trinity Church, Archbishop Abbot’s resting place. There are also scheduled tours of Abbot’s Hospital on selected dates and times – a great way to time travel and find out about this wonderful almshouse throughout the ages, helping to reveal more about the images on each mural. Please check the website for times and details: https://www.abbotshospital.org/visits-tours/