New mosaic ‘preserves’ thousands of people’s memories of Ally Pally

The mosaic was created by British visual artist Helen Marshall

By The People: A 150 Lifetimes
By The People: A 150 Lifetimes

An ambitious project to preserve thousands of people’s memories and connection to Alexandra Palace has been unveiled.

​The By The People: A 150 Lifetimes mosaic was created by British visual artist Helen Marshall, founder of the People’s Picture, whose work also features at the Kennedy Space Centre and Gatwick Airport, among others. 

The artwork is inspired by an original engraving of the palace created just over 150 years ago by JT Wood, a prolific London printmaker. It measures 35 square metres and is constructed using photographs sent in by the public, showcasing a diverse range of personal stories and themes of identity, place, memory, family, heritage and culture.

Interwoven are pictures from the Alexandra Palace archive celebrating the individuals involved in the key moments of history, world firsts, innovation and local London life that have been part of Ally Pally’s unique century and a half of existence.

​The project was funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and made possible by money raised by National Lottery players. 

​Emma Dagnes, Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust CEO said: “Alexandra Palace was built as the ‘People’s Palace’ so there’s no better way to mark our 150th anniversary than celebrating the people who make Ally Pally what it is today. 

“From first dates to marriage proposals, first steps to much-loved relatives, life-affirming cultural experiences and a feeling of home – it’s astonishing to see the breadth and depth of people’s memories, and the sense of belonging our corner of London has provided over the past century and a half.

“As the charity that cares for the Park and Palace, it is incredibly motivating to see the positive impact Ally Pally has had on so many people’s lives, as well as the positive impact people have had on the Palace. A huge thanks to all who took part in this project, and to the many more who visit, whose stories we weren’t able to capture. We look forward to moving forward together, ready to enjoy our next 150 years.”

Helen Marshall: “There is nothing more exciting than being given the opportunity to create a site specific work on such a grand scale and in such a setting. I wonder what the original Artist who created the original miniature engraving 150 years ago would say if they saw it re-invented in this way!?

“Even with the power of digital technologies available to artists like me now, not much has changed except the tools, this work took many painstaking hours and weeks to make. I am grateful to everyone who submitted their pictures, as without their contribution the art would not exist.”

Stuart McLeod, from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: We are delighted to support this project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, has meant that people have shared their memories of Ally Pally. It is a fitting celebration for the culmination of its 150th year, and helps preserve these memories for future generations. It looks fantastically at home in the East Court.”  

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