One of London’s artistic treasures has been brought back to life at Tottenham Court Road Underground station.
A collection of mosaics, created by Scottish sculptor and artist Eduardo Paolozzi in 1986, has been lovingly restored as part of the work going on at the station in preparation for Crossrail.
Paolozzi, born in Edinburgh to Italian immigrants in 1924, was a leading figure in the Pop Art movement. His mosaics at Tottenham Court Road are widely considered to be one of the most spectacular examples of post-war public art.
Covering a total area of over 950 square metres, the vibrant designs make reference to London’s entertainment culture, its rushing commuters and urban economy.
Despite the changes made to the station as it is prepared for Crossrail, around 95 per cent of the mosaics have been retained – most in their original location. However, one panel from the former Oxford Street entrance was taken off the wall in one piece and lowered down a lift shaft to its new location at platform level.
Wherever possible, the original tiles were reused. If new tiles were needed, these were carefully colour-matched using the same process as the originals.
The few panels that could not be accommodated at Tottenham Court Road have been sent to Edinburgh College of Art, where Paolozzi studied in 1943, to be used to teach today’s undergraduates.
London Underground managing director Mark Wild commented: “The modernisation of Tottenham Court Road was essential to ensure that the station will be able to support London’s growing population, but as we prepare for the future we are taking care not to forget our history.
“Paolozzi’s work is an important part of the station’s heritage, and we have worked hard to retain and restore the mosaics at Tottenham Court Road so they can continue to be enjoyed by customers.”
The mosaics aren’t the only public works of art to be found at Tottenham Court Road. They will be joined by work by Daniel Buren, one of the most significant contributors to the conceptual art movement, while renowned artists Douglas Gordon and Richard Wright have also been commissioned to create large artworks for the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) part of the station.
Photos courtesy of Transport for London (TfL)