Huge public protest fails to prevent ‘key’ artwork being lost under £400 million revamp
An extraordinary public protest against the planned demolition of some of Eduardo Paolozzi’s famous murals at Tottenham Court Road tube station appears to have been largely in vain after it emerged that the tiled arches above the escalators have already been dismantled.
After AJ revealed 10 days ago (see AJ 20.01.14) that not all of Paolozzi’s work would be salvaged under Hawkins Brown’s £400 million redevelopment of the station - part of the wider Crossrail scheme - an online petition was launched with gathered more than 7,500 supporters in little more than a week.
However, the heritage group campaigning for the retention of the mosaics, the Twentieth Century Society, confirmed that three of the four arches have already been lost following a meeting with Hawkins Brown and its client Transport for London (TfL) yesterday.
Three of the four arches have already been lost
During the meeting, TfL did however pledge to save a Paolozzi mosaic panel at the entrance to Oxford Street, which is now set to be relocated at platform level following specialist conservation advice.
Director of the Twentieth Century Society, Catherine Croft, said it was saddened that the arches - described by the society as a ‘key’ part of Paolozzi’s ensemble at the station - had already gone.
She added that the petition had highlighted the degree of public interest in the artwork.
She said: ‘There has also been a sizeable amount of replication of the murals on the platforms, rather than retention of the original works which we would have preferred.
‘We were given assurances when the station upgrade plans were first mooted that the mosaics would be safe, and because of this we held off putting them in for listing. With hindsight we feel these mosaics would have been better protected through the listing process. We would have then been more involved in the decision making process from the beginning, and the outcome may have different.’
However, Croft welcomed what she described as TfL ‘changing its mind’ over the Oxford street entrance panel and opting to relocate the original panel rather than replicating it.
‘They have also given us assurances that we will be consulted on the methodology for removal and relocation,’ she added.
A spokesman for TfL denied it had changed its mind, claiming that it had always intended to relocate the decorative panel. However, he confirmed that three of the four arches have been dismanted.
Gareth Powell, London Underground’s director of strategy and service development, said: ‘We consider the Paolozzi mosaics to be an important artwork and over 95 per cent of the mosaics will be retained in their current place or with a mixture of new and original tiles. Throughout the vital upgrade of Tottenham Court Road station we explored all the options possible to preserve the mosaics attached to the arches at the top of the main escalator.
‘Unfortunately they could not be retained as the structure that they sat on was supported by the roof, which has now been removed to enable the station to be expanded to meet increasing demand as London’s population grows. The decision to remove the arches was agreed with the Paolozzi Foundation in 2012 and we have worked closely with them, and other interested parties, throughout.’
Hawkins Brown declined to comment.