THE Milford Street Bridge Mural gives a context for Salisbury’s present adversity: the two part Mural brings together Salisbury’s history and festivities, reminding us that celebration follows hardship.

Picasso said, “The purpose of art is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls”. Walking through the Mural cleanses despondency and fosters hope because it illustrates what Salisbury has already overcome and the joy that followed.

The message is clear: Salisbury will recover from the Novichok poisoning.

The historical wall of the Mural has a strong architectural theme, dramatically framed by the pavement and roof of the bridge.

Details enliven the past, for example a cow in Foster’s Bakery, standing behind the cake-laden window shelves; the Mural notice explains, “Instances of escaping cows on the drove from market”; and a portrait of nineteen-year-old Eileen O’Leary who came to Salisbury in 1903 and “travelled with her new husband Neil McNamee (manager of Lipton’s grocery) on the Titanic’s fateful first voyage. Both died.” This side of the Mural has gravity, contrasting with the street parties painted on the opposite side, including for the 1977 Silver Jubilee. The magnificent Salisbury Giant joined events, surrounded by life in minutiae; a boy offering lemonade to a pensive friend and a child dressed up as a letterbox. This side of the Mural also captures the post-war 1953 Coronation being watched on a Bakelite TV in St Edmunds Church. Ironically, today the world watches Salisbury cope with the intrusion of global politics into its midst. The people of Salisbury are paying a high price for this uninvited interruption to life.

But something special is happening to Salisbury now: while the absence of tourists and a thinning city evidence reports that businesses are 20-30 per cent down, in being laid bare, the city is showing its true colours. There is an openness of hearts in the shops, on the streets and in the market square. Salisbury is demonstrating it is a city of friendship and pulling together to conquer adversity. Visions of hope are everywhere, for Salisbury is full of doves. Doves are flocking to the windows of shops as Salisbury joins hands providing doves not just for the cathedral installation but also to its own community; hope is spilling onto the pavements as windows fill with this ubiquitous symbol of peace and love. When Picasso Introduced his dove as the international symbol of peace in 1950 he said, “I stand for life against death; I stand for peace against war.”

Salisbury is a community dusting off recent daily strife and standing with peace to rewrite its history. The Milford Street bridge mural foretells that Salisbury has more ahead to celebrate, as the doves flocking in the city illuminate.