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Vandalism and Art

Exploring the Aftermath: Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s Tottenham Court Road Mosaic Arches at the University of Edinburgh

Liv Laumenech

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Introduction

1In 1979 Paolozzi was commissioned to create an artwork for Tottenham Court Road (TCR) Tube Station. London Regional Transport [now known as Transport for London (TfL)] were redeveloping all the stations along the Central Line and saw the opportunity for artworks at each station. Paolozzi created an iconic work covering over 950 square meters of TCR station with images referencing the locality, popular culture and everyday life in mosaics. This commission also included the mosaic design for two archways over escalators leading down to, and back up from, the platforms.

2In 2011, due to the Crossrail Ltd and necessary modernisation work to the station, the space that was home to the arches was being altered. Following the agreement of the Paolozzi Foundation and despite protest from the general public and heritage groups, the arches were dismantled and removed from the station in 2015.

Reconstruction

3Amongst different institutions approached, the University were chosen as the new home for the remains of the arches. In October 2015 over 600 fragments arrived in Edinburgh. Following initial conservation, cataloguing and photographing of each fragment, the art collection team approached the School of Informatics to help guide redisplay plans. Using an image recognition programme called MATLAB, Dr Bob Fisher and colleague Alex Davies established the original location of each piece but also unearthed that only 33% of the artwork survive. Given this data, plans for redisplay are challenged and many questions raised. Namely, what is the most appropriate thing to do with this material?

Fig.1 Mosaic Arch from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station

Fig.1 Mosaic Arch from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station

Fragment of the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, 1984

Credit: John Bryden

4The University’s Public Art Officer unpacks the details of this complicated story and explores its connection to cultural vandalism. As well as outlining why the mosaics were removed within the context of larger restoration project by TfL, this case highlights issues around, site specificity in public art. It also discusses concerns of authenticity and ownership, as well as museum management and public engagement.

5Looking to the project’s future Exploring the Aftermath presents questions that the fragments pose, it outlines the challenges and principals that guide this work and unpacks possible plans for their redisplay in Edinburgh. It offers reflection about what happens after a work is destroyed and opens a discussion into the creative solutions that could turn effects of vandalism into positive opportunities.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig.1 Mosaic Arch from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station
Caption Fragment of the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, 1984
Credits Credit: John Bryden
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/docannexe/image/5905/img-1.png
File image/png, 292k
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References

Electronic reference

Liv Laumenech, « Exploring the Aftermath: Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s Tottenham Court Road Mosaic Arches at the University of Edinburgh », CeROArt [Online], HS | 2018, Online since 28 December 2018, connection on 20 May 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ceroart/5905

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About the author

Liv Laumenech

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Copyright

Licence Creative Commons
CeROArt – Conservation, exposition, restauration d'objets d'arts est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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