St. John's Garden (2004-2017)

In 2007 St John’s Garden was designated as a sculpture garden and received People’s Lottery support to transform it from a virtual no-go area, into a landscaped space to welcome the wider community. It had been used as a drinking site by homeless people displaced from the nearby Imax cinema underpass and its labyrinth of sheltered walkways where security guards and the police had moved them on. They had found refuge in St John’s precinct where the police could not move them on (in those days) unless they were disturbing the peace.

A new approach was taken, through an organisation called Putting Down Roots, part of St Mungo’s Charity and ourselves to make the space more attractive and plant the garden with interesting new species. Our role was to put in sculptures. Our first aim, working with the homeless people, was to make some permanent seating for them; always a difficult issue as the general feeling was that seating would encourage the homeless to sleep outdoors.

We made the first memorial to homeless people, working with them and other groups at risk of marginalisation (notably young offenders). The memorial was a fertility symbol, engraved with hand-made ceramic leaves, shaped like the London Plane leaves of the tree under which the memorial sat. On many of the leaves there were names of those who had died in the garden or local hospital.

Over the years we made another memorial to add names of people who died and some additional seats. We put in works of sculpture (about 20 in total) including mushroom shapes made out of tiles collected from the river Thames, a small home sculpture and a single mother sculpture with a golden child,.

 

First Surrey Rifles commemoration (2016)

We partnered with Lambeth Archives which holds the First Surrey Rifles Archive, to research the local history and commemorate the Battle of the Somme. This project unlocked the secrets of the heritage collection and put this into an exhibition of four portraits in mosaic accompanied by texts, photos and maps. These were toured to local schools and museums such as the Black Cultural Archives and Lambeth Archives. We worked with young people with disabilities and those in trouble with the law to engage them with the lives of young soldiers through talks led by historian Jon Newman. They helped our team to make mosaics in response to what they had learned. This project was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund under the programme "First World War: then and now". 

Blake's Lambeth (2005-2015)

Blake’s Lambeth is a collection of 70 mosaics installed in the tunnels alongside Archbishops Park, close to Waterloo Station. The project was part of a 10 year collaboration of Southbank Mosaics (our former company) with Future’s Theatre and Southbank Sinfonia supported by Heritage Lottery.

William Blake lived for ten of his most productive years in North Lambeth at 13 Hercules Buildings. The old house has been knocked down, but there is a plaque where it once stood on Hercules Road. This mosaic project pays homage to his genius and some of his greatest work. Our artists worked with 300 volunteers over a period of 7 years to research, design, plan, create and install 70 mosaics based on the words and paintings of William Blake into the railway tunnels of Waterloo Station, turning them from dark unwelcoming places into street galleries bright with opulent and durable works of art.

Queenhithe Dock Mosaic (2011-2014)

300 artists and volunteers created the Queenhithe Dock Mosaic, a 30 metre long and one metre deep work of art, which charts some of the history of the dock. The Queenhithe, located on the north bank of the river Thames, was a main port of medieval London, receiving farm produce from the Thames valley and a myriad of produce from other regions and abroad.

The wall where the mosaic is placed is a flood defence barrier for the city and is also part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument (the only Anglo-Saxon dock in the world). There is a granite frame and inside of this a small border of pottery and materials collected from the river and dated by archaeologist Mike Webber, relevant to the timeline of the overarching theme of the mosaic (i.e. Tudor tiles frame the area of the Tudor era).

This art work tells the story of Queenhithe (the Queen’s wharf) from the first Roman visit up to the present, with 164 panels depicting character and aspects of the small port’s story. There are some portraits, for example Queen Mathilda after whom the port was named, Geoffrey Chaucer who used to collect the tax on each boat that off-loaded at the dock.

Several artists and experts worked on the project alongside hundreds of volunteers including local residents and school children.

Location: 1 Queenhithe, London EC4V 3EJ

Mosaics for Lambeth Palace and Archbishop's Park (2006-2011)

We have completed several projects in and around Archbishops Park and Lambeth Palace including a fountain inlay, paving stones, signage and a seat.

The fountain at Lambeth Palace was restored and decorated after multiple years of not working. Volunteers and artists designed fish, sea plants and a jewelled beach as an inlay. The fish were made in the studio while the pattern was layed in situ alongside ceramics features.

The tree mosaic was completed in 2006 as the infill of some seating. It was made with volunteers including Archbishop Rowan Williams and is placed in the children’s play area of the park. It depicts a tree of life, with market fruits, including pineapples, first grown in the UK beside Archbishops Park. There is also a group of sheep, symbolic of the name Lambeth – whose possible origin is “Lambs’ Berth”, where sheep were brought into London through a place by the river Thames; although Archbishop Rowan suggested it might be from the Anglo-Saxon meaning mud bank! There is a blanket spread beneath the tree for a picnic with a bottle of wine with the writing FOAP – standing for Friends of Archbishops Park who fundraised for this project and have done sterling work in making the park a great community asset.

London Bridge Mural (2008)

Located at Southbank of river Thames on the railings by Hayes Galleria, this mosaic was created by teams of volunteers including young people in trouble with the law.

It depicts medieval London Bridge with its houses, shops, chapels and defences at a time when it was considered a wonder of the world. The bridge was burned down in the great fire of London in 1666 and never regained its notoriety and character, although the new bridge was more efficient in carrying goods and people. Journeys across the old bridge could take over one hour, with people jostling every inch of space and travellers often accosted for unscrupulous payment.

Southbank Centre Paving Stone Portraits (2007-2008)

We made a series of portraits to enliven the streets of the Southbank. The portraits were of people who had an influence or presence in the Southbank area and celebrated the diversity of artistic, sporting and historical talent: Kelly Holmes, Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson, Ernie Izzard (boxer from a boxing venue called “The Ring” on The Cut), Bella Burge, Mary Wollstonecraft, Lilian Baylis and Kevin Spacey (which the Southbank Centre removed in 2018).

Tree of Life at Hopton Alms Houses (2006)

This mosaic was created in collaboration with residents of Hopton Alms House, a retirement house in Southwark. In front of the mosaic is a fig tree which forms the central tree of life motif, with its core heart-shape. Into its branches are the “fruits” or occupations of the residents of the Alms Houses: nurses, sawyers, chefs, clerks, watermen, hairdressers and deal porters. The mosaic includes hand-made ceramic tiles made at the studios, giving it a unique quality.