The restoration of a rediscovered Chilean Mural found in the Union building has now been completed thanks to £16,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, artist Kasia Breska, alongside members of the Chilean community, have now fully restored the Chilean Mural originally painted in 1976.
The project has re-established the mural’s cultural significance as a piece of community and political art within both the Chilean and local communities. Project work started in October 2017, and the mural is now finished and on display in the Union building in the Help and Support area.
Union Affairs Officer Jack Palmer said:
“It's incredible that we've been fortunate enough not just to find this piece of historical art, but have been able to restore it so that future students and the wider community can learn about the political and cultural heritage of this University.
“Given the current refugee crisis affecting the world today, this is a timely reminder of how society can come together and be a home for those fleeing violence and hardship. It's been great to see the collaboration that has gone into this project and I hope it continues to bring people together for years to come.”
The mural is now part of a group of resources dedicated to refugees and asylum seekers, bringing members of the student, local and Chilean communities together. A team of MA students from Leeds University have collected oral histories from the Chilean community and produced a limited edition newspaper, La Muralla, documenting the history of the mural and the stories of some of the people who were involved in its making.
Following the tradition of Chilean mural painting as a collective activity, some of the original contributors, plus other members of the Chilean community in Leeds and students from the University of Leeds have collaborated with the artist to restore the mural to its former glory.
The mural was recently uncovered during a building upgrade after being hidden for 40 years behind a wall. Painted in 1976 by Chilean students and activists who left their home country to escape persecution, it represents their efforts to draw attention to General Pinochet’s regime in Chile and acts as a symbol of workers solidarity, a crucial part of Chilean heritage. An example of LUU’s own rich heritage in supporting student political expression, it also reminds us of the importance and value in welcoming refugees into our communities.