Despite the obvious disruption to service, most people are enjoying the shiny new Tottenham Court Road tube station. But not everyone’s happy. Word is out that London will be losing part of its iconic Eduardo Paolozzi mosaics, and people aren’t happy about it.
Londoner Etan Smallman has created a petition called ‘Save Paolozzi Tottenham Court Road mosaic from “tragic” destruction‘. He aims to collect 1,000 e-signatures from those who feel similarly robbed by the planned loss of part of the mosaics. At the time of writing this he has gathered 834 supporters so is well on his way to reaching his target and sending the petition off to TfL.
The bits that will be lost include the double set of tiled arches over the main escalators and a panel at the entrance to the south side of Oxford Street. After an extensive search to devise a way of fully salvaging the mosaics it seems that the work around the arches can’t be retained because the structure that they depend upon is supported by the roof, and that’s being demolished. The possibility of removing the titles piece by piece has also been considered, but less than five percent could be removed undamaged because of the super rich mortar they are set in.
Bar these areas, the majority of Eduardo Paolozzi’s work at Tottenham Court Road will be preserved. In fact over 95 percent will be preserved in its current place or with a mixture of new and original tiles. But in his petition page Etan points out ‘What other artwork that is enjoyed by 150,000 people every day would be mercilessly ripped down?’ and refers to an argument by Steven Moore: ‘Would you remove the face from the Mona Lisa and say, “Hey we’re saving 95 percent?” No. It’s vandalism!’
When deciding how to restore the art work all interested parties, including the Paolozzi Foundation, were involved in the decision-making process. In defence of the action being taken Gareth Powell, London Underground’s Director of Strategy & Service Development, stated: ‘We consider the Paolozzi mosaics to be an important artwork and we have worked closely with the Paolozzi Foundation to ensure that Tottenham Court Road station continues to provide a home for the work. As part of the station upgrade we have worked to successfully restore and replace the Paolozzi mosaics on the Northern line, which will shortly be followed by the Central line tiles. This process involved colour matching and following the same production used for the original tiles. We also have plans to relocate the signature pieces at the former Oxford Street entrance. We believe these mosaics and the new Daniel Buren pieces are world class artworks befitting of this important, central London station.’
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