Whilst preparing for the Magna Carta walk for the City of London I came across the rear facade of 100 New Bridge Street, in Waithman Street (named after a Draper, former Lord Mayor of the City), approached from the main street on the left side up the stairsway in Pilgrim Street. An extraordinary sight and lovely surprise of a series of twenty-three large hand-made stoneware tile panels of 1992 by the potter Rupert Spira (b1960).
The Escher-like patterns are a wonder to behold. You assume there are going to be repeats but there is nary a one! The glazes are a mix of beautifully mottled reds, blues, turquoise, green and grey, and it is hard to believe the panels are flat rather than three-dimensional.
Rupert Spira studied at West Surrey College of Art and Design and from 1980-82 trained with Michael Cardew at Wenford Bridge.
In the early 1990s Spira was producing pots at Lower Froyle, Hampshire, when he was offered a commission for tiles. At Swallow Tiles in Cranleigh he discovered how to produce tiles by hand, in interlocking shapes and with a full palette of glaze colours; he then made 18,000 tiles for a garden in Paris (1991) and carried out the 1992 commission for developers Rosehaugh Stanhope (also of Broadgate fame) for 100 New Bridge Street.
Financially secure from the tile making, Spira returned to making pots, experimenting with simpler forms and monochrome glazes, totally different from the New Bridge Street panels, his sole British tile commission.
Rosehaugh Stanhope in most of their developments in the late 80's early 90's always incorporated a budget for art works and sculptures. Broadgate the largest of these sites has extraordinary works including a Serra.
Where is Rupert Spira now? Check out his latest creations here: http://www.rupertspira.com/home.aspx?intContentID=1