On Thursday 21 June residents of Television Centre joined by Robert Seater, Head of BBC history, enjoyed a talk on artist John Piper and one of his best mosaic pieces, the Television Centre mural, by his biographer Professor Frances Spalding, Fellow of Clare Hall College, Cambridge.
The Helios Reception boasts one of the finest mosaic wall decorations in this country. Commissioned from John Piper in 1959, it filled a huge area of wall above the reception desk in the new BBC Television Centre when it opened in 1960, but was hidden from public view until the opening of Television Centre to the public by developers Stanhope, AIMCo and Mitsui Fudosan.
John Egerton Christmas Piper CH was an English painter, printmaker and designer of stained-glass windows and both opera and theatre sets. He was an official war artist in World War II and his war-time depictions of bomb damaged churches and landmarks, most notably those of Coventry Cathedral, made Piper a household name and led to his work being acquired by several public collections.
Frances Spalding, FRSL, CBE, is an art historian, biographer and critic. She has authored sixteen books and pursued an intermittent academic career, becoming Professor of Art History at Newcastle University and is now a Fellow of Clare Hall at Cambridge University. Her book John Piper, Myfanwy Piper: Lives in Art, published by Oxford University Press, is now available in paperback.