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Scotland university taps public for help to solve Paolozzi art puzzle

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In an inclusive move to preserve art, the University of Edinburgh will be holding a public symposium to decide what to do with the remnants of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s murals for Tottenham Court Road Underground station.

The work of one of the pop art pioneers was partially destroyed in a revamp of the Tube in 2015 as part of a £400m Crossrail redevelopment of the site.

What remained was 600 pieces in varying sizes – some no larger than a book and others more like ‘large slabs’ – of what was left of the two mosaics that used to colour the archways in the Underground station’s main entrance hall.

The university inherited these pieces of colourful Italian glass tile and moribund concrete, which only make up 45% of the original art work created by the Scottish-born artist.

A gallery technician adjusts Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s ‘The World Divides Into Facts’, 1963, part of The New Situation: Art in London in the Sixties at Sotheby’s auction rooms in London, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013. Image via AP.

The institution will be holding a public symposium on February 23, bringing together a series of art historical, curatorial and conservation experts to discuss what to do with the mosaics.

Neil Lebeter, curator of the university’s art collection, and Liv Laumenech, the university’s Public Art Officer, will be leading the project.

“It is not very straightforward. We don’t have one whole arch, or one large part of an archway – but they are really beautiful,” said Laumenech, according to Herald Scotland.

“It is a jigsaw. But when you are faced with 45% of the original, you have to stop and think and say ‘where do we go with this’?” she added.

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Pieces of the mosaic that were packed up and returned to the University of Edinburgh Art Collection in 2015. Image via Facebook.

Suggestions include remaking the mosaic into a damaged Classical mosaic with missing portions, creating a new art work out of the mosaic tiles or placing them in a subterranean location in Ediburgh or somewhere on the university campus.

“We could rebuild one part, and leave other parts for teaching,” suggests Lebeter.

“So there may be a mixture of things we do.”

Laumenech is excited at the possibilities that the symposium would come up with.

“We feel that anything is possible, because the context has been removed, you have sizeably less of the art work, so for me this is why we are holding the symposium, to create parameters of what we could do, and give students and the general public and idea of what could happen,” she said.

“If you are talking about conservation, best practice is to save what’s there, not re-do anything, but at the same time its exciting to discuss what we could do with them.”

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