A new mural outside St Clement's Building on LSE Square has been made possible by a commitment from Mario Francescotti (BSc Economics 1981), an LSE Benefactor and emeritus governor.
“I have been inspired by LSE’s ambition to create a world class campus,” said Mario. “I hope these works will, in turn, inspire current and future generations at LSE to continue shaping the world.”
Spectra by artist Tod Hansen, is a five-storey-high artwork and the first in a series of three pieces of public art on St Clement’s wall – one for each key priority of LSE 2030 – to highlight LSE’s values and principles.
Spectra is intended to illustrate LSE 2030’s first priority, ‘educate for impact’, through a spectrum of ideas, locations, buildings and analytical methodologies. It will remain in place for a minimum of three years before two subsequent murals – illustrating priorities 2 and 3: research for the world and LSE for everyone – are commissioned, visually representing LSE’s key priorities for ten years until 2030.
While the LSE campus is currently closed to the general public, and enhanced health and safety restrictions are in place, the mural is a focal point for the new LSE Square, as well as those viewing it from each of the twelve floors of the Centre Building. It was commissioned as part of the award-winning Centre Building redevelopment project.
The artwork is a spectrum of ideas, locations, buildings and analytical methodologies. It is an amalgamation of visual languages that hold resonance for both the internationalism of LSE and the wider populations of central London.
The Booth Poverty Map acts as the starting point for the artwork. Part of LSE Library's archive of Charles Booth’s Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the People in London (1886-1903), the map has been inscribed into UNESCO's Memory of the World Register. The wider archive documents the social and economic life of London, highlighting its contrasts, complexities and contradictions.
The archive demonstrates Booth’s adoption of new methodologies and techniques in what is now recognised as a key milestone in the development of social research techniques.
The section of map the artwork focuses on depicts the area of London LSE occupies: we see the form of Lincoln’s Inn Fields at the top and the organic arc of the Thames in the lower section. In an approximation of a centre point, a red square denotes the Centre Building.
Superimposed on the Booth map (which has had names and colours removed in a deliberate artistic abstraction) is the familiar visual trope of the pie chart. The ‘infographic’ format suggests data analyses and methodologies for assessing the world we inhabit.
The artwork’s elliptical form is distorted through Hanson’s use of trompe l’oeil – from certain vantages the disc will appear to be three dimensional, sinking into or rising from St Clement’s Wall.