Something gorgeously colourful is slowly taking shape on the walls of London. A 57-metre long mosaic mural, full of colour and vibrancy, is slowly being built – one tile at a time. The mural artwork, entitled A Thousand Streams is being painstakingly applied to the London streetscape, celebrating the city’s community, context and diversity.
A Thousand Streams is the result of a collaboration between the artist Adam Nathaniel Furman and the London School of Mosaic (LSoM). It’s the largest ever work from Furman, and the largest commission from LSoM. When it’s completed, it’s estimated that 21 million people will enjoy the artwork in just a single year. That’s three times the annual visitors received by the National Gallery!
Excited to see the final, finished piece? Well, unfortunately you’re going to have to wait a while. The mural is currently scheduled for completion in April of 2024. Yup, we know, that’s a whole year away… A veritable army of volunteers has been enlisted to create the work – but there’s only so much they can do at a time! After all, the tiles that make up the mosaic mural are incredibly small.
The inspiration behind the mosaic mural
Adam Nathaniel Furman has drawn inspiration from a huge variety of sources to design the public artwork. First and foremost: the waterside location itself. As a literal and symbolic gateway into London it inspired the artwork’s themes of the flow and merging of people as they come into London.
Furman also drew on their love of mosaics, and childhood visits to other public mosaic artworks. Eduardo Paolozzi’s interiors in old Tottenham Court Road Station and the vast neo-Byzantine Westminster Cathedral were among the mosaics that inspired them. They were struck by the power of the decorative, free, art in these public spaces.
Said Furman: “I’m fascinated by these two interiors, both of which are a very big part of the reason I became so interested in and passionate about the power of beautifully crafted, decorative art that integrates into public spaces and provides a sense of communal uplift. I used to visit and put my pocket money in the pot for donations towards the mosaics in the Cathedral when I was little.”
But these public artworks and interiors had even more significance to Furman. The Fitzrovia chapel, for example, another source of inspiration, featured gorgeous mosaics but was also the former chapel of a hospital where many people died from AIDS. Additionally Tottenham Court Road station represented a doorway to the queer community in Soho. Growing up as a queer person, these places resonated with Furman in so many ways, and their influence can be felt in the new mural.
If you want to see the mosaic being slowly built before your eyes – head down to London Bridge station.