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Architects agree to meet campaigners over threatened Paolozzi murals

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Hawkins\Brown agrees to talk with campaigners over threatened Eduardo Paolozzi murals on Tube

Hawkins\Brown will meet with the Twentieth Century Society next week to discuss the fate of two Eduardo Paolozzi murals at Tottenham Court Road as a petition protesting against their proposed demolition attracted more than 900 signatures in just a day.

Earlier this week, the heritage group complained of the ‘tragic loss’ of two elements of the celebrated Scottish artist’s work at the tube station - a double set of tiled arches over the escalators in the main concourse and a large decorative panel at the entrance to the south side of Oxford Street  - under Hawkins Brown’s comprehensive redevelopment of the station.

A spokeswoman for the architect has now confirmed that it is preparing to meet the society next Thursday (29 January) to discuss this.

Co-founder of Hawkins\Brown, Roger Hawkins, previously said that he and client Transport for London (TfL) had worked hard to preserve as much of Paolozzi’s work as possible, adding that all the “signature” elements done by Paolozzi himself were being saved with the help of the Paolozzi Foundation.

However, pressure on TfL and its team intensified with the launch of a new online petition in support of the Twentieth Century Society’s petition. This was launched yesterday (Thursday) and had already attracted more than 900 signatures by 4.30pm on Friday.

Freelance journalist Etan Smallman, who launched the petition, said: ‘I wanted to show that it isn’t only high-minded types who are enraged by this kind of cultural vandalism.

‘The [support shown for] the petition in less than a day shows that ordinary Londoners truly care about the priceless public art on their doorsteps. I hope TfL sits up and takes notice.

‘It can’t be beyond the wit of man to incorporate the mosaic into the new design or, if not, to relocate it. Perhaps we can mobilise an army of art lovers to help transfer it tile by tile.’

The decorative arches – which are no longer structurally necessary under the new design - have already been offered to both the Victoria & Albert Museum and the London Transport Museum but both have turned this down, AJ understands.

Gareth Powell, London Underground’s director of strategy & service development, said: ‘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.  

‘These mosaics and the new Daniel Buren pieces are world class artworks befitting of this important, central London station.’

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Readers' comments (4)

  • I made these mosaics for London Underground and Eduardo, and feel devastated at their impending loss. However, I do have a great deal of the material still and, I suppose, could guide on making them again, or make as before.
    Chris Smith.

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  • Chris Rogers

    Chris, this sounds fascinating; I've been helping the C20 on this issue this week, having been badgering TfL for some time myself - could you contact me please? Not sure if my AJ profile allows it but if not please see the Contact tab on my own website

    http://www.chrismrogers.net/

    Many thanks

    Chris

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  • Hi Chris Smith - the Twentieth Century Society would be keen to talk to you about your work at the station. Would you be able to contact us via the caseworker email address on our website www.c20society.org.uk?

    Many thanks,
    Twentieth Century Society

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  • It took Christopher Smith himself to volunteer this information! Hurrah for him, but how is it that nobody concerned with the project and responsible for protecting this unique artwork, particularly TfL, was aware of his special role and took the trouble to contact him at the inception of the project!
    Hawkins Brown, step forward and involve this unique contact. Chris Rogers and Cela Seeley keep up the pressure. Good luck to all, this wonderful work must be retained!

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