ASR Group was pleased to commission artist Elena Juzulenaite to paint the story of “Tate & Lyle Through the Years” at our Tate & Lyle Plaistow Plant.
The mural is featured on a repurposed shipping container that was moved two years ago to help create a communications corridor for employees. The mural greets employees as they enter the container, said Sam Barker, who coordinated the mural’s commissioning.
“We decided we wanted to have the container branded in some way,” she said. “I reached out to Elena about the project, and she was delighted to work with us again.”
This project is the second for Elena at Tate & Lyle, after her project a few years ago where she drew on our history and Lyle’s Golden Syrup label to transform old drums into refuse bins for our outside seating areas.
Elena said she feels a deep connection to the Royal Docks, the Thames-front London industrial district we call home.
“I have been involved in many community activities here,” Elena said. “Working with the community has had a very positive effect on my mental health and informed new ideas in my art practice.”
Elena said she has researched the history of the Royal Docks and surrounding area for years.
“London is a very interesting old city that has so many undiscovered stories layered on top of one another,” she said. “East London is one of the most interesting parts of it to me because there is so much history about Victorian inventions, pioneering engineering and industries, and many other things.”
At the center of the mural is a view of our Plaistow Plant from the Thames, surrounded by faces of people of note from Tate & Lyle’s history.
In the upper left and upper right corners of the mural are co-founders Henry Tate and Abram Lyle.
On the left side of the mural are the faces of Ethel Colquhoun, Lilian Clark, Gladys Hudgell and Joan Cook, key figures from the book Sugar Girls, written about the history of women in Tate & Lyle.
On the right side of the mural are Edna Henry, who worked for equal rights for women and Black people in our company; Sheila Wakeling, a recently retired longtime syrup-filling supervisor; Sherma Sarbah, an employee for more than four decades; and Hazel Amdur, who has worked here for more than 45 years.
The Tate Institute is represented in the lower left corner of the mural. On the opposite side of the container, the classic Tate & Lyle mascot Mr. Cube is at work painting the Lyle’s Golden Syrup label.
“All of these people represent our diversity and inclusion and our history,” Sam said. “Elena’s knowledge of our history and her talent as a painter came together to create something truly special.”
The mural has become “a real feature” at Plaistow, Sam said. “Everyone absolutely loves it,” she said.
Elena’s collaboration with Plaistow will continue in July for the site’s 140th anniversary celebration. The artist will create a silkscreen keepsake mural, with employees and their families invited to decorate and sign silk squares as part of the celebration. Elena then will assemble the mural, which will be framed and placed on view to celebration the anniversary and the longevity of our Lyle’s Golden Syrup factory.