Liverpool – so much more than the Beatles.

A walk around the streets of central Liverpool is a true delight for a fan of mosaics. The building boom that created the wide streets and monumental buildings from the 1880s to the early 1900’s was the window when mosaic threshold pieces were at their most fashionable. There were pattern books created so that owners could choose ‘off the peg’ designs and have their shop names added to the entrance door or hallway. Can you work out what this shop was selling?

The mosaicists never saw their works as they would have been made at the factory on brown paper and posted to the shop to be laid down into a screed of grout. They acted as carpets, decorative pieces with edges in beautiful patterns; some with key patterns or chain edged patterns, harking back to Roman design. Note the peppering of the background with complementary colours.

It is remarkable that so many have survived and I am sure there are many more lurking under ugly carpets in some of the pubs. On my many visits there, I have stumbled upon many sites of mosaics and in doorways, lower cellars; the best example is the Philharmonic pub, near the Catholic cathedral, which is an absolute treat. It’s worth having a pint, soaking in the atmosphere and seeing the mosaics that grace the bar and floors. (above)

All along and around Lord Street the grand banks and ship insurers used mosaics to highlight the importance of their business; examples are the ship insurers and some new ones as entrances to restaurants.

This plate advertising the Liverpool ship insurers is now a very trendy restaurant. It portrays the progress from sail to steam; progress suggesting theadvances in shipping org perhaps the sun going down on the Empire. Best to catch this one at the end of the day where the sun picks out the golden tesserae.

Here is another sneaky image I found. Beautiful.

Across the Mersey is the Lady Lever Gallery, built by Lord Lever, in memoriam to his wife. The sculpture ovals have magnificent polychromal floors with clear opus vermiculatum wrapping the leaves.

A visit to the Liverpool museum shows one of the latest mosaics- a full scale mosaic of a suffragette made by Carrie Reichardt. Bring her back out of the gallery, Liverpool, to narrate in the streets again.

The beautiful floors in the Victoria building of the Liverpool University museum ae a treat- the red brick building now the source of the term ‘red brick university’.

Terrazzo took over the art of mosaic by 1930; it was very much cheaper but very unhealthy for the makers as the marble dust damages the lungs. This is seen on the floor or an Art Nouveua buidling, now a cult shopping centre for small traders.

There is so much to explore. Who needs to shop when you have these to feast your eyes on? These are just a few; wish I could do a mosaic tour in Liverpool. And…finally a little cheeky yellow space invader.

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