Hull Three Ships mural: Open letter calls for BHS mosaic to be saved

The Three Ships in situ Image copyright Mike Bartlett Photography
Image caption The Threes Ships mosaic was created by artist Alan Boyson in 1963

An open letter calling for a giant mural in Hull not to be demolished has been signed by dozens of artists, including actor Sir Tom Courtenay.

The Three Ships, depicting Hull's fishing heritage, has to be knocked down after "dangerously high levels of asbestos" were found, the council said.

Al Murray, Kate Fox, Bob Stanley and Kevin McCloud are among those who have put their names to the letter.

Campaigners also handed in a petition containing more than 7,000 signatures.

Image caption Sir Tom Courtenay is among those who have signed the open letter

In the letter, signatories said the mosaic was "unique and irreplaceable" and asked for it to be given listed status to preserve the artwork. They have urged Hull City Council to "halt" its demolition plans so independent investigations can be carried out.

"We believe that demolition would be a tragedy for Hull, a City of Culture, and for the United Kingdom. We believe that these works need to be preserved for the nation and future generations," they wrote.

The mosaic, on the front of a former BHS store, was created in 1963 by artist Alan Boyson. The building is due to be demolished as part of a £130m redevelopment of the city centre.

It comprises almost a million pieces of Italian glass on a 66ft by 64ft (20m x 19.5m) concrete screen and depicts three stylised trawlers spelling out Hull with their masts.

The council had initially said it would retain the artwork, along with two others found at the store. But a survey later found the work would "pose a risk to public safety" and it ruled out temporarily removing the mural.

Image copyright Nick Coupland
Image caption Alan Boyson's work has almost a million pieces of glass

It is being discussed at a council scrutiny meeting later.

An application to have the mural listed was turned down by English Heritage in 2017.

The authority confirmed it was removing Boyson's fish mural from the derelict store because it was "not part of the structure", and would be "integrating" it into the new development.

Councillor Daren Hale said the council's aim "has always been to retain these incredible artworks where possible".

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