John Bruce Mullin AoU: Teacher and Urbanist

You will search in vain for St Urban’s on a map. You might identify it as being somewhere in East Anglia because the land is flat. Is that a crop of mustard in the field or is it rape? Is that needle spire a Hertfordshire Spike?

No, St Urban’s is a product of my imagination. When I got my first job as a teacher of Art & Design, I  moved from Yorkshire to Essex and was blown away by the wide horizons, the endless skies, the clarity of the light. I had to paint it straight away so, on a bit of hardboard, using a plastic glue spreader, and paint mixed from powders and PVA glue (because that’s all the school’s art department possessed), I dashed off a painting based on fleeting impressions from my car journey down to Southend-on-Sea.

The church turned out to be a cross (!) between St John the Baptist Knaresborough, and St Lawrence, Southend, and I still don’t know whether that crop was mustard, like they grow in East Anglia, or rape like we grow in Yorkshire.