Child's Play

For the First and Tourist Class nurseries, Sir Hugh Casson commissioned two well known artists and Senior Lecturers at the Royal College of Art, Mary Fedden and Edward Ardizzone.

Although Mary Fedden O.B.E., R.A. is perhaps best known for her colourful still lives, in 1951 she had designed murals for the Festival of Britain and was a natural choice for the Tourist Class Children’s playroom murals.  Entitled “Imaginary Animals and Birds” and covering three walls, Mary Fedden painted the murals in watercolour on melamine impregnated paper which was then processed into a melamine-faced "Perstorp" laminate.  The process was highly innovative and created remarkably durable works of art.  Today the Fedden murals lie hidden behind layers of paint and the vagaries of later refits, but the panels are intact and it is hoped that the funds can be raised to fully restore them at a future date.


The specially commissioned wooden toys in both nurseries including; a mobile crocodile, rocket, climbing boxes and children’s wendy house were the work of Margaret Redfern.

Edward Ardizzone C.B.E., R.A., was famous as an illustrator of childrens books but his work on CANBERRA was on an altogether different scale.  Working with his son Philip, he created 3 murals for the First Class playroom producing his drawings of nursery rhyme characters, children boating and Treasure Island at life-size.  Like the Fedden murals (and those in the Island Room by Robert Buhler) they were painted in watercolour on melamine impregnated paper.  Over time, and refits, the Nursery became the Card Room and the murals were covered over with wallpaper.  In 1999 they were completely restored and unveiled in an exhibition of Edward Ardizzone's work at Camberwell College London.

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Child's Play