Alnis Ansons (1928-2015) was introduced to architect Kevin Knight in the lead up to the opening of the Brighton Municipal Offices in 1961. The architect, on seeing some relief work in the artist’s home, asked Ansons if he would attempt an ambitious 70 square metre work within the council building which would wrap around the lift shaft of the three storey building.
The tight deadlines and budgetary constraints imposed on the project impacted on the artist’s process, but in adapting to these limitations, Ansons developed a bold and original technique for producing commercial ceramic works.
The mural, which symbolises the people of Brighton at work, worship and play, is constructed from hundreds of individual ceramic casts that have been treated with an engobe, similar to an underglaze, to produce a myriad of colours. The pieces were then fired only once, and grouted with copper grouting from top to bottom, creating a three-dimensional effect on the central column in the council chambers. Ansons was assisted during the installation by his future wife, Ralda, who was tasked with holding the pieces in position as they dried, to prevent them from sliding or shifting.
Circular ceramic relief mural around lift well in Brighton Council Chambers. The work begins on the ground floor of the Brighton Library, through to the mezzanine level up to the Chambers.