The much-loved mosaic arches at Tottenham Court Road Tube station, which are threatened by its redevelopment, have been saved and will be put on display in Edinburgh, the home city of their artist, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.
Campaigners feared that parts of the mosaic artwork, installed in 1984, would be lost during the expansion work on the London Underground station ahead of the opening of Crossrail services in 2018.
Transport for London (TfL) worked with conservators to preserve about 95 per cent of the mosaics in their original position inside the Tube station. However, the arches over the escalators, a key part of Paolozzi’s comprehensive design, were demolished earlier this year, and many feared the designs would be lost.
Campaigners at the Twentieth Century Society contacted the University of Edinburgh, whose art collection includes about 150 Paolozzi works, about salvaging the mosaics.
The university agreed to acquire the pieces and the mosaics will be disassembled and taken to its collection at the Edinburgh College of Art, where Paolozzi studied in 1943 and later became visiting professor.
During the next few years the pieces will be photographed and digitally mapped so experts can virtually reconstruct the work. Students, researchers and conservators will then physically reassemble the mosaics, which will go on display. A spokesman described it as like reassembling “a massive jigsaw puzzle”.
Neil Lebeter, curator of the university’s art collections, said: “The mosaics will be a very important addition to the art collection both in terms of Paolozzi’s significance and his links to Edinburgh.”
It is currently unclear where the completed work will be installed, but the university hopes to secure an outdoor spot for its public display.
Toby Treves of the Paolozzi Foundation said the artist’s work at Tottenham Court Road station “has delighted Tube passengers for more than 30 years. The work with Edinburgh will provide a fitting home for the pieces that could not be accommodated at the station.”
The Twentieth Century Society wanted to try to retain the arches on site. But senior conservation adviser Henrietta Billings said: “We are very pleased that they will once again be on public display.”
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