Thousands of people walk through Leytonstone Tube Station, many unaware of the impressive shrine of mosaics dedicated to a Hollywood icon. Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense and director of some of the most iconic films in history, was born in Leytonstone. To commemorate his life and work, a series of mosaics were installed at the station in 2021.
The mosaics depict scenes from some of Hitchcock’s most famous films, including The Birds, Psycho, North by Northwest and Rear Window. Visitors to Leytonstone Underground Station can explore these mosaic murals and learn more about Hitchcock’s life and work. The mosaics provide a unique insight into the director’s creative vision and his influence on cinema
What makes these mosaics so unique is that you only get to see half the designs on your way to or from the platforms. This means that if you’re not paying attention, you might miss out on some of Hitchcock’s most iconic moments!
Who was Alfred Hitchcock?
Sir Alfred Hitchcock was a legendary British filmmaker, widely considered as one of the greatest directors of all time. He directed some of the most iconic films in history, including Psycho, The Birds, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo & To Catch a Thief. His films are known for their suspenseful plots and innovative camera techniques.
Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, London in 1899, and began his career as a title designer in the 1920s. He went on to direct over 50 films throughout his career, and was nominated for five Academy Awards. Hitchcock is remembered as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time and his legacy continues to live on through his iconic films.
The Hitchcock Mosaics
“IDEAS COME FROM EVERYTHING.”– Alfred Hitchcock
The Greenwich Mural Workshop They were commissioned in 1999 to commemorate the centenary of Alfred Hitchcock’s birth in 1899. It took seven months to complete and a few more months to install – eventually unveiled in 2001.
The mosaics are a tribute to Hitchcock’s legacy and serve as a reminder that he was born in Leytonstone. Here are some of the best:
Inscription: Young Alfred outside his father’s shop Alfred Hitchcock as a boy on a horse outside his father’s greengrocers shop at 517 The High Road, Leytonstone (circa 1906).
The mosaic of Young Hitchcock is a reminder that the director’s creative vision was shaped by his childhood in Leytonstone. It depicts Alfred Hitchcock as a boy on a horse outside his father’s greengrocers on Leytonstone High Road. It is inspired by a photography believed to be taken between 1900-1906.
Hitchcock at Work
Inscription: In a directorial pose from the Skin Game of 1931, Hitchcock is imagined directing some of his stars, including Margaret Lockwood, Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre and Cyril Richard.
“In Hitchcock’s eyes the movement was dramatic, not the acting. When he wanted the audience to be moved, he moved the camera. He was a subtle human being, and he was also the best director I have ever worked with.” – Bruce Dern, actor.
Hitchcock was known for his meticulous attention to detail and creative vision. This mosaic captures this perfectly, depicting the director in a studio setting surrounded by cameras and crew members. It’s a reminder of the hard work and dedication that went into creating some of the most iconic films in history.
The mosaic also serves as an inspiration to aspiring filmmakers, reminding them that great works of art come from hard work and dedication.
The Birds (1963)
Inscription: Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels, one of the Bodega Bay residents inexplicably attacked by ever increasing flocks of birds, in Hitchcock’s apocalyptic allegory.
“Hitchcock captures the subtleties of females warring with each other; all those nuances of knives and guns conducted in looks and body language. He sculpts the human body in space.” – Camilla Paglia.
The Birds is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most iconic films. It tells the story of a small coastal town that is attacked by a flock of birds, leaving the residents in terror. The film was revolutionary for its time, as it featured groundbreaking special effects and innovative camera techniques. The mosaic depicts Tippi Hedren being attacked by a flock of birds.
Inscription: Hitchcock directs Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, who “goes a little mad sometimes”, and Janet Leigh as the unfortunate Marion Crane before the infamous shower scene.
“At the end of Psycho, I realised I’d worked with the director who’d been more open to the actor’s suggestions and ideas than any I’d worked with” – Anthony Perkins.
“Psycho gave me very wrinkled skin. I was in that shower for seven days… At least he made sure the water was warm.” – Janet Leigh.
A tribute to one of Hitchcock’s most iconic films. It portrays the infamous shower scene from the 1960 film, which has become one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history. The mosaic Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, standing in the shower with Hitchcock directing from afar. This scene is a perfect example of Hitchcock’s masterful use of suspense and tension to create an unforgettable moment.
Rear Window (1954)
Inscription: James Stewart as action photographer LB Jefferies is confined to his apartment by a broken leg. With the help of fiancé Lisa Freemont, played by Grace Kelly, he begins to suspect a murder has occurred and sets out to resolve the crime.
“I’ve never seen Hitchcock look through a camera – some directors never stop.” – James Stewart.
In tribute to the 1954 classic, Rear Window. It depicts the iconic scene where James Stewart’s character, L.B. Jefferies, peers out of his apartment window and spies on his neighbours. This scene is an example of Hitchcock’s ability to create suspense and tension without relying on special effects or violence.
Inscription: Tom Helmore as Gavin Elster and Kim Novak as Madeline in Hitchcock’s masterly study of love and obsession.
“Hitchcock knew exactly what he wanted to do in this film, exactly what he wanted to say, and how it should be seen and told… And anyone who saw him during the making of the film could see, as I did, that he felt it very deeply indeed.” – Samuel Taylor, screenwriter.
The mosaic of Vertigo pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece. It depicts the iconic scene where Kim Novak’s character, Madeleine Elster, is seen standing atop a bell tower in San Francisco. This scene is illustrates Hitchcock’s masterful use of camera angles and lighting to create an atmosphere of suspense and tension.
North by Northwest (1959)
Inscription: Hitchcock’s supreme chase comedy-thriller in which Cary Grant, as urbane businessman Roger Thornhill, is mistaken for a spy and is pursued across the country by both enemy agents and the police. In this famous scene his life is threatened by, of all things, a crop-dusting aeroplane.
“It is only when you adopt the basic premise that Cary Grant could not possibly come to harm that the tongue in Hitchcock’s cheek becomes plainly visible.” – Hollis Alpert, Saturday Review.
North by Northwest tells the story of an innocent man, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), who is mistaken for a spy and must go on the run to clear his name. The mosaic depicts the iconic scene where Thornhill is chased by a crop duster plane across an open field.
If you’re ever in the London area, hop on the tube to Leytonstone to see these amazing mosaics for yourself! For more epic mosaics, check out – Incredible UK Mosaic Tile Art You Need To See.