Navigator Square Mosaics, Islington, N19, London 2022-2023
The images in this mosaic depict aspects of Irish Heritage such as coins, national symbols and traditional Celtic art. The work pays tribute to the Irish ‘navvies’ from which Navigator Square takes it name, and the nurses who made Islington their home. Construction and nursing were primary professions of the Irish diaspora during the 19th and 20th centuries. Their contribution, along with many other economic migrants from around the world, helped build Britain and create the NHS.
At one point 83% of nurses at the Whittington Hospital were Irish. The Navvies built the A1 and so much of this area and this city. The design celebrates many of the symbols of Ireland and reflects some of the careers of the Irish that settled in this area. Imagery from beautiful Irish coins and the traditional Claddagh ring were also depicted, as are the colours of the Irish flag. The design was a tough one to get right, with many different versions drawn up and changed. Catherine Clark absolutely central to it’s resolution and getting it just right!
Working with local St Joseph’s, Yerbury, Hargrave Park and St. John’s Upper Holloway Primary Schools. Sean McGovern from the Islington Heritage Department and artist Georgie Fay took our soft pre-cut, pre-rolled clay tiles into the Year 5’s for the pupils to press into and create patterns celebrating the Irish Heritage. These tiles are glazed blue and make up the entire background as well as the borders on each hexagon. All the textured clay tiles in the salmon, the harp, the peacock and the leaves on the shamrock are made by the 100+ pupils.
‘It was a pleasure to work with Maud on the creation of a work of public art for Archway, Islington. Community and democratised art are central to her artistic worldview. Maud was extremely collaborative and hard working. We worked together on ideas, focussed on solutions when things needed development, and when designs were finalised, I trusted her and her team completely to deliver results, all which exceeded expectations. Years of experience have made Maud a trusted professional. There were so few times I felt I needed to check the progress because she regularly informed me. What’s more, I knew the work was in the safest pair of hands.’
Seán McGovern, Heritage Project Manager, Islington Council
‘I had a wonderful experience working with Islington Council to create this mosaic. Community is central to all my work, and I’m delighted that four local schools could contribute hundreds of handmade tiles to this mural. I recently traced my own Irish heritage, and I hope this will inspire the people of Archway to feel connected to their own heritage too.’