The University of Edinburgh is in talks about rebuilding the famous Eduardo Paolozzi murals - demolished as part of the redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road tube station - on its estate in Scotland
Mosaic fragments from arches which sat above escalators at the station are to be re-assembled in the artist’s home city, after Transport for London donated them to the University of Edinburgh Art Collection.
Paolozzi, was born into an Italian-Scots family and grew up in Leith just outside the Scottish capital and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art in 1943 before moving to London.
Neil Lebeter, art collections curator at the university confirmed the intention was to include the restored mosaics in one of a number of building projects being carried out by the institution.
He told AJ: ‘We don’t know a final location for the arches yet but are talking to architects. There is a whole host of building going on at the university and it is certainly the intention that it will become built into a structure – whether existing or new.’
Lebeter expected the restoration project to take three years to complete and would be led by experts in mosaic restoration, but also used as an opportunity to train students in restoration work.
In addition, he has been in contact with Christopher Smith, an expert who worked alongside Paolozzi on the mosaics led their installation during the early 1970s, about getting involved with the project.
Lebeter has twice visited the London Transport Museum depot in Acton to inspect the mosaic fragments, which were torn down earlier this year.
He said: ‘I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the size of them. I wasn’t sure what state I would find them in but the fragments of mosaics and their plaster backing are six inches thick and quite sizeable. Nonetheless, this will be a huge task.’
Henrietta Billings, senior conservation adviser at the Twentieth Century Society, which helped broker the deal, said: ‘It is great to see these Paolozzi mosaics given a new lease of life by the University of Edinburgh. The processes developed will also inform the future conservation of other works of post war public art, many of which remain at risk.’
However, she said the society’s preference would have been for Transport to London to have retained the arches as part of the redevelopment of the station which is incorporating access to the new Crossrail line.
Billings welcomed TfL’s decision to retain and relocate a separate Paolozzi panel at the entrance to Oxford Street.
However, she said the society is unhappy that some other sections on the Central and Northern Line platforms which are being restored due to engineering work are replicas of the originals.