William Blake Mosaics – London, England - Atlas Obscura

William Blake Mosaics

This open-air mosaic gallery honoring an English artist took hundreds of volunteers more than seven years to create. 

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Though his work was largely uncelebrated while he was alive, the English poet William Blake has come to be one of the most influential artists of his era. Now, in the London borough of Lambeth, an impressive open-air gallery serves as an homage to Blake’s body of work. Here, a series of mosaics is dotted along a trio of railway arches, each honoring a piece of Blake’s art.

The gallery is located near the site of Blake’s former home. From 1790 to 1800, Blake and his wife Catherine lived on Hercules Road. Though the area is now bustling, it was a quieter, greener space in the late 19th century. The terrace house where Blake once lived was demolished in 1917.

But starting in 2007, this art project brought the poet and painter back into his old neighborhood. The mosaics were created over the course of seven years with the help of more than 300 local volunteers. As of 2020 this free collection showcases an extensive total of 70 pieces of artwork. 

While initially seven years could be interpreted as a rather lengthy timeframe for this effort, each one has been carefully pieced together by hand with the help of Southbank Mosaics. Located just a short distance from Waterloo Station, the works adorn a trio of railway arches along Carlisle Lane, Virgil Street and Centaur Street. Here, under the dripping arches, with a soundtrack provided by the trains rumbling by overhead, the natural atmosphere seems to provide the perfect environment to compliment Blake’s artistic vision. Every mural reflects a piece of Blake’s art—some are recreations of paintings, while others are inspired by verses of poetry.

There is also a blue plaque at Hercules Road, marking the site of the original William Blake Estate. 

Know Before You Go

From the Lambeth North tube station, head southwest toward Hercules Road. The mosaics can be found on the walls of the railway arches on Carlisle Lane, Virgil Street, and Centaur Street.