The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

A Total Artwork: New Perspectives on the Threatened Oldham Mural

A Total Artwork: New Perspectives on the Threatened Oldham Mural

Presented by the Twentieth Century Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage

TUESDAY 10 MAY 2022 at 6.45PM

George Mayer-Marton’s ‘dazzling’ Oldham Mural designed in 1955 for the Holy Rosary church is at risk – just as its significance is being better understood. Hear the latest from art historians and campaigners .

The Oldham Mural is a unique mosaic and fresco portrayal of the Crucifixion by the visionary émigré artist George Mayer-Marton (1897-1960). Praised by V&A director Tristram Hunt for its “dazzling beauty”, it is locked in the redundant church of the Holy Rosary Church on the edge of Oldham, Greater Manchester which is at risk of redevelopment.

The mural was submitted for listing by the Twentieth Century Society in 2017 but turned down by Historic England. It was resubmitted by Nick Braithwaite in 2020 and campaigned for by SAVE Britain’s Heritage and the local community.

Meanwhile, a reappraisal of the significance of both this modern “Gesamtkunstwerk” and its creator is gathering pace. Hear from an expert panel of speakers as they discuss new perspectives on this vulnerable work which is one of only two ecclesiastical murals by Mayer-Marton that survive in situ, and the only one incorporating both fresco and mosaic.


Clare A.P. Willsdon, professor of the History of Western Art at Glasgow University, will highlight her research on the Oldham Mural as a “Total Work of Art” and its historical context. She authored the pioneering book Mural Painting in Britain 1840-1940 (2000) and was a member of the House of Lords expert panel on murals for the Palace of Westminster (2008-10)

Sarah MacDougall, director of the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, will expand on George Mayer-Marton’s significance within the wartime and post-war émigré artists network in Britain

Nick Braithwaite, the artist’s great nephew, will talk about Mayer-Marton the man

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, will discuss the growing momentum behind the campaign to save the mural

The event will be chaired by Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft.

This is a joint Twentieth Century Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage event, with C20 Northwest.

C20 Members. Save: Friends/Saviours/Students:  £6   Non C20/Save : £8

(*due to technical issues, all tickets are currently priced at the reduced rate of £6)

We will send you a Zoom link by email after you book, which will enable you to “join” the event, and we’ll be using the Q&A function to take questions at the end. If you’ve not used Zoom before, clicking on the Zoom link will take you through the set-up process, hopefully simply and smoothly! You should receive an automated link within an hour of booking so please check your spam/junk emails if you haven't received this. Any further problems please contact

Not a C20 member yet? Join here and benefit from event ticket discounts. Looking to support our campaigning? Donate to our caseworkhere.

The Twentieth Century Society is a registered charity, no 1110244

Above: The Oldham Mural by George Mayer-Marton. Photograph: Estate of George Mayer-Marton.

The Twentieth Century Society is an IHBC (Institute of Historic Building conservation) recognised CPD provider.

Booking Closed

Unfortunately, booking is closed for this event and we are no longer able to accept new bookings.