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Rebecca Cheetham Nursery & Children's Centre

Rebecca Cheetham Nursery & Children's Centre

Rebecca Cheetham Gets a Makeover!

Finally, the exterior of Rebecca Cheetham Nursery and Children's Centre is starting to reflect the wonderful opportunities that exist inside.

You will have noticed over the last few months that a transformation has been taking place at Rebecca Cheetham Nursery and Children’s Centre. We have been working alongside mural artist, Carlos Peñalver, to collaborate on a bespoke mural on our external facade that brings a sense of intrigue, interest, wonder and joy to the children and families that attend Rebecca Cheetham. 

What we have entitled, “an illustrated letter to the “joyfulness of play” at Rebecca Cheetham Nursery and Children’s Centre, our hope is that the children and families will spend time talking about the things they see in this abstract piece. The objects contained in the work are not so obvious, so it takes a little time to stop, wonder and try to decipher what they see; perhaps, what one child sees, another child might see something different, just like laying on the grass and identifying objects in the clouds.

The collaboration was relatively straight forward since Carlos had a strong understanding of the way that we wanted the mural to look and the overall feeling we wanted to convey. Of the collaboration he says, “We had a series of conversations about what the nursery is about, what the children like to talk about, what is important to them. Which things they will like to identify in the mural but also challenge them. Incorporate this element of discovering, of playing.” Children should be able to identify things that they engage with in the nursery in the mural, for example, the djembe drums, alongside other images which might be more general. When asked about staying true to his artistic integrity when trying to work with other people’s ideas, Carlos says, “I try to understand what is the need, and I try to think of the artwork together with the space and the message as a whole. I listen to others. I think my style allows me to incorporate other people's views.”

We loved Carlos’ fluid strokes and the sense that the lines seemingly flow into each other, helping to bring the piece together in a joyous way. We also wanted to use a simple palette of colour, sticking to the prime colours of blue, red and yellow. This palette helps to connect the piece to other areas of the nursery, for example the tree-house canopy top. Carlos says of his artistic leanings; “My style of drawing is more like writing. It’s natural to me. What inspires me to draw are places and people. And I was definitely inspired by Donaldson room (my child’s classroom), from the first day. I love the details, the objects, the atmosphere, so many colours and magic there with all the kids; it’s so lively.” We can definitely sense this writing-like movement in the artfulness of the mural and this way of working helps to give the art life and a sense of movement.

It was important that part of the collaborative process was a discussion of play and what it means to us. When asked what play means to him, Carlos told me, “To me play means discover. Learn. Laugh. All this together.” Once we knew that Carlos had the right attitude to and understanding of play, then we knew it would be a more fluid process to be able to work together and bring our ideas to fruition.

We invite you to spend a moment to stop and look at our mural with your child and have a conversation about what you see; what things are instantly recognisable? What things look like they are hidden? Point to a particular object and ask your child to describe it to you. Ask them if certain things in the painting remind them of something else. What colours can they see? Would they want to make their own drawing at home or in the nursery?  A huge part of creating a more abstract mural was to allow for conversation, for intrigue and for analysis and de-coding. 

We feel like the exterior of the building is finally giving some indication of the wonderful play and learning opportunities that await when you walk through the doors of Rebecca Cheetham Nursery and Children’s Centre and we couldn’t be more happy with the result!

If you are interested in seeing more of Carlos' work, here are some examples of where to find them:

  • London School of Economics, in the new Centre Building
  • Citypoint, next to Barbican. 
  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. 
  • In the crypt of St Botolph’s, in Aldgate. 
  • 1 Westfield Avenue in Stratford. 

You can visit Carlos’ website at

  • Ofsted Outstanding
  • Wellbeing Award
  • IQM Flagship Award