Brangwyn Mosaic - The breathtaking artwork wowing worshippers at a Leeds church

It's the artistic wonder which has been wowing worshippers at a Leeds church for more than a century.

Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 11:30 am

The mosiac, dating back to 1916, covers the whole apse of St Aidan's Church in Harehills and represents the life of the saint from landing in North Cumbria to his death.

It is decorated with mosaics by artist Frank Brangwyn who was commissioned in 1908.

He usually worked with tempera as a decorative medium, but considering the pollution of the Leeds atmosphere at the time it was decided to use mosaic. A mosaic would be easier to clean and maintain. The work was done in London by the firm of J.B. Rust, a method of reverse mosaic technique was used.

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The Brangwyn Mosaic behind the altar of St Aidan's Church in July 2002. PIC: Simon Hulme

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The individual tesserae were arranged and stuck face down onto paper. This was done by a group of female workers recruited from the poor area of Battersea. They were given instruction by Brangwyn's superintendant, Sylvester Sparrow.

The Leeds family of industrialists R.H. Kitson met the cost of the mosaic.

It has been estimated that during his lifetime Welsh-born Brangwyn produced over 12,000 works.

His mural commissions would cover over 22,000 sq ft of canvas, he painted over 1,000 oils, produced more than 500 etchings, around 400 wood-engravings and woodcuts, 280 lithographs, 40 architectural and interior designs, 230 designs for items of furniture and 20 stained glass panels and windows. He also produced more than 80 poster designs during the First World War, although he was not an official war artist.

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