To mark South Hill Park’s 50th anniversary, we commissioned UCA MA Fine Art student, Oluwafemi Babalola, to create an amazing mural by the Printmaking Studio staircase.
Oluwafemi’s work was part of our recent exhibition, Residual, a reflective response to the mansion, curated by Andrea Gregson, UCA senior lecturer in Fine Art. The mural features the artwork from the exhibition, which was inspired by the Garden Room door handle, alongside extended paintwork.
The main artwork focuses on the headpiece found on the Garden Room door handle which is surrounded by masks that represent the ghosts and spirits that could be lingering withing the premises, creating a sense of mystery of the building’s 50 year+ history. The extended paintwork takes this further and includes inspirations of elements found in the building such as the fireplace and ceiling floral motifs.
Artist Oluwafemi Babalola says, “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity to showcase my artwork at South Hill Park. It holds immense significance to me.
My piece, “Forces Within,” was inspired by the overwhelming emotions I experienced upon stepping foot on the premises. It encapsulates the powerful presence of potential spirits inhabiting the residence, observing and existing within its walls.
Drawing from a prominent feature—the door handle leading to the garden room—I created a painting that harmoniously blends a site-specific element with hybrid masks and vibrant colours. This composition portrays the hidden forces that reside within the building. The intricate pattern on the wall evokes movement and hints at ghostly energies. The masks symbolize the looming possibility of encountering these ethereal beings as visitors traverse the premises.”
South Hill Park is excited to have this stunning artwork as a permanent feature in the mansion space organised by South Hill Park Exhibition Curator, Loucia Manopoulou in association with South Hill Park Marketing.
In an interview with BBC Radio Berkshire, Oluwafemi added: “I have always been inspired by my local community back home in Africa, and tried to express myself by fusing artistic cultures by different regions; currently experimenting with the fusion of African arts and pop art. So, when you look at my pieces you’re going to find a fusion of different cultural elements. Working on this project I got to take my African heritage and African understanding and fuse them with what else you will experience at South Hill Park.”
If you would like to see this mural, you can find it by entering the Wilde Theatre foyer and following down to the Wilde Community Gallery, where it is located upstairs on the wall by the Printmaking Studio.