Tiles don’t fly into my mind when I think of London in the same way that they do when I think of Lisbon or Porto. But now and again, life has a funny way of twisting and spinning a coincidence my way that ends up challenging my set views. This is exactly what happened a little while ago when I found myself a little lost in the sinewy alleys near Blackfriars. A few miseducated turns later, I found myself on a small street aligned with tiles panels of stunning geometrical grace.
After doing a bit of Googling and Insta-searching, I discovered a bit about the tiles’ origins but noticed that they don’t seem as well known as I feel they ought to be. Their location probably keeps them a hidden/secret London gem but such amazing work deserves a much bigger audience. So, if you fancy taking a look for yourself, let your map guide you into the winding alleys of Blackfriars to Waithman Street, to be exact.
There are 23 panels consisting of about 18,000 ceramic tiles (source), all the work of Rupert Spira. They are the artist’s only commission in England to date and they were hand made by him in 1992. Standing there, all alone in the street (it must be one of the loneliest thoroughfares in the City) and staring at their Escher-like patterns in their gloriously complex glazes was quite mesmerising as the 3 dimensional effect seems to awaken and do trippy things to my eyes.