Call to return Leith artist’s tube mural

There are fears the Tottenham murals will not survive the Tube revamp. Picture: comp
There are fears the Tottenham murals will not survive the Tube revamp. Picture: comp
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ONE of the Capital’s leading arts impresarios has called for the return of priceless murals by Leith-born Eduardo Paolozzi amid warnings they could be demolished to make way for a £400 million London Underground revamp.

Richard Demarco, who has organised countless exhibitions around the world over a 60-year career in the arts, said the loss of key parts of Paolozzi’s mosaic murals at Tottenham Court Road station in London would be an “insult to Edinburgh”.

And he has suggested relocating them to buildings within the Capital’s own public transport network, including bus and tram terminals.

The calls come after heritage group The Twentieth Century Society voiced concern that two “essential and integral” elements of Paolozzi’s work — a double set of tiled arches over the escalators in Tottenham Court Road’s main concourse and a large decorative panel at the entrance to the south side of Oxford Street — could be demolished.

Group leaders have demanded urgent talks with the architects behind the redevelopment.

Mr Demarco said: “If any of the murals are lost, it would be an unthinkable act of cultural vandalism.

“A home should be found in Edinburgh for the works. This was one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. The Tottenham Court Road artwork is what the Germans call a Gesamtkunstwerk – a total art work. Not one piece of it should be altered.”

Paolozzi, who trained at Edinburgh College of Art, was one of Britain’s leading post-war sculptors and a figurehead of the mid-20th century “Pop Art” movement.

Among his major sculptures is The Manuscript of Monte Cassino, which depicts an open palm, a section of limb and a human foot, and is located outside St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Capital.

“If this takes place, it will seriously damage the image of Britain as a civilised country concerned with the cultural heritage of Europe,” said Mr Demarco.

But Transport for London and architects Hawkins Brown have claimed 95 per cent of the mosaics will be saved using original and replica tiles.

Gareth Powell, London Underground’s director of strategy and service development, added: “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.”