Randall Tesserae: New public art commission celebrates Battersea’s ceramics heritage

Inspired by the craftmanship of Jesse and Henry Rust (prolific and highly respected makers of decorative tiles and mosaics in the late 19th and early 20th century), artist Maria Gasparian and print-maker Augusta Akerman have collaborated with students at St John Bosco College to create a new public artwork, located near the site of the historic Rust Company in Battersea. The artwork is displayed on hoardings surrounding the site of the new homes being created for local residents at Randall Close.

A celebration took place on Wednesday 1 March as the striking new hoarding artwork, entitled Randall Tesserae, was unveiled. Attended by St John Bosco College students, Maria Gasparian, local authority officials, and senior members from Wandsworth Borough Council and The Hill Group, the event also marked the start of construction for new the local housing.

The word ‘tesserae’ in the title of the artwork refers to the small pieces of ceramic, stone or glass used to create mosaics. Year 10 GCSE Art students used lo-fi printmaking techniques to create their own mosaic patterns and motifs. These were inspired by the colour palette of the Rust Company mosaics and integrated together to create a collaged effect.

“It’s been great exploring the important local heritage together with St John Bosco College students who made fantastic work. I hope that the permanent artworks I am now designing will bring vibrancy and interest to the new public space within Surrey Lane Estate.”

Dr Maria Gasparian, Lead Artist

The Henry and Jesse Rust Mosaic and Tile Company was based on Randall Street, now the Surrey Lane Estate, and their work can still be seen at Battersea Arts Centre, The Victoria and Albert Museum and many other locations.

Dr Maria Gasparian is an artist and architect with an MA and PHD in Ceramic Design from the University of the Arts London. Her work reimagines traditional brick making using pattern and glazes to create contemporary decorated brick and tile works within public realm design. Permanent artworks by Maria Gasparian, commissioned by Wandsworth Council in partnership with Hill, will form part of the new public spaces at the Randall Close housing development. 

“This public art commission has been a fantastic initiative from the council and Hill, our partner on the Randall Close project. The development itself will provide 106 new council homes and this sort of work shows that we are just as interested in placemaking and building vibrant communities, as we are in building the homes themselves.”

Councillor Kemi Akinola, Wandsworth Council’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for the voluntary sector, business engagement and culture

Randall Tesserae has been commissioned by Wandsworth Council in association with The Hill Group. Randall Close Public Art Strategy and curation by Dallas-Pierce-Quintero.

This milestone marks our start on site to create much needed energy-efficient homes for the borough which will include a significant proportion of affordable homes. It is wonderful to be sharing this with pupils from St John Bosco College who have been working with the incredibly talented Maria Gasparian to create the striking hoarding which has in turn created an extremely lively backdrop to the development.”

Simon Trice, Managing Director, The Hill Group