Merrion mosaics are centre of attention at Leeds college

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Three well-known pieces of art have found a new home after redevelopment work at Leeds’s Merrion Centre left them facing an uncertain future.

The eye-catching mosaics until recently occupied a spot at the junction of Merrion Way and Wade Lane, just behind the shopping centre.

But a major programme of refurbishment at the centre meant they could no longer stay in the space they had graced for nearly 60 years.

The mosaics have now been dismantled and – after a painstaking restoration process – put back together and installed on the side of Leeds College of Art’s Blenheim Walk building, where they cover an area 14 metres wide by two metres high.

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And the choice of location could not be more fitting as they were originally created by the late Eric Taylor, who was principal at the college between 1956 and 1970.

Current college principal Simone Wonnacott told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “The Eric Taylor mosaics are significant pieces of Leeds’s public art which represent a very important period in Leeds College of Art’s history.

“When we found out they needed a new home, after many years at the Merrion Centre, we were happy to work with [Merrion owner] Town Centre Securities to provide it.

“Investing in their restoration not only gave the students who worked on the project a unique experience but will also mean the people of Leeds get to enjoy them for many years to come.”

One of the four students involved, Lissie Cowley, said: “It was a great way to finish the first year of my fine art degree.

“The experience I have gained is unique and I’ve seen how a creative subject can lead to an art form with mosaic.”

The students worked with the Northamptonshire-based Mosaic Restoration Company on the project.

As previously reported by the YEP, plans have been drawn up for the redevelopment of the old Merrion Hotel, which is on Wade Lane and adjoins the Merrion Centre.

The overhaul includes the opening of a ground-floor restaurant by Leeds-born celebrity chef Marco Pierre White and potential new uses for existing retail units, also on Wade Lane.