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sudan war memorial



Sudan War Memorial, 36 Terminus Street, Petersham


Keith Sutton


Paintings Conservation


In this Petersham shopfront residence built in 1885, hidden below a layer of wallpaper and seven layers of paint, emerged a mural containing 27 almost life-sized caricature figures, drawn directly onto the plaster, in pencil and indian ink. The mural was given this name by the current owner when he discovered that the wallpaper between the ceiling and the picture rail was covering a mural depicting military and political figures associated with the Sudan War of 1885, including General Charles Gordon, and Governor Loftus (and his chicken.) The Sudan War saw the first commitment of Australian troops to a foreign conflict, and the satirical nature of the drawings might indicate that it depicts more generally a protest against war.

The characters emerged below the picture rail of the northern and eastern walls as the paint was removed with a variety of different paintstrippers, followed by solvent removal of residual paint, and above the picture rail, the wallpaper peeled away with the assistance of steam. The images were in remarkably good condition, though many areas of wall had losses to the plaster, where there had been damage by water, or by the introduction of electrical wiring or plumbing, or by the change of position of doorways. No traces of mural were found on the west and south walls.

The mural is signed: E C Press, Decorator, 1888. Edwin C Press (1857 - 1934) was a home decorator, and is buried in Liverpool cemetery. Nothing more is known about the decorator, but the year celebrates the centenary of British settlement, and may account for the presence in the mural of such characters as Ned Kelly and Queen Victoria.


Sydney Morning Herald

Register of the National Estate

K Sutton Sudan Memorial