In a kaleidoscopic journey through Beatles history, Bonhams is set to showcase a vibrant piece of John Lennon’s artistic legacy. At the heart of their Rock, Pop & Film sale on November 29 at London’s Knightsbridge is the iconic ‘Psychedelic Eye’ mosaic, a dazzling creation that once adorned the swimming pool of Lennon’s Kenwood home in Surrey, commissioned by the legendary musician in 1965.
This monumental mosaic, with its intricate design comprising approximately 17,000 tiles, was the brainchild of master tiler Joseph Ritrovato. Installed single-handedly by Ritrovato on the deep-end wall of Lennon’s pool, the ‘Psychedelic Eye’ became an emblematic representation of Lennon’s artistic vision and influences. It was in this serene retreat, away from the tumultuous glare of public attention during The Beatles’ zenith, that Lennon found solace. The mosaic, visible from his cherished ‘sunroom’ atop the house, stood as a testament to his creative sanctuary.
Claire Tole-Moir, Bonhams Head of Popular Culture in London, commented: “This monumental mosaic, commissioned by John Lennon, is a striking example of the Beatle’s artistic vision and influences. Lennon’s Kenwood home in the English countryside was a respite from all the public attention he experienced during the height of The Beatles’ popularity. Lennon would spend idle hours near the swimming pool and the mosaic could even be seen from his favoured ‘sunroom’ at the top of the house. With Kenwood still under private ownership, it is rare to see anything from when John Lennon lived there, making the ‘Psychedelic Eye’ mosaic a significant artefact of Beatles history.”
A poignant relic of the Beatles era, the mosaic captured the essence of Lennon’s time at Kenwood, a period that holds immense significance in the band’s history. Photographed alongside his son Julian by the editor and photographer of The Beatles Monthly, the ‘Psychedelic Eye’ became an iconic backdrop to Lennon’s life.
Kenwood, owned by Lennon from July 1964 to spring 1968, witnessed this artistic marvel adorning its swimming pool wall from 1965 until 1984. Later, for preservation purposes, it was removed by Kenwood’s owners and its joint custodians. This vivid creation saw the light of day when it graced The International Garden Festival at the Royal Festival Gardens, Liverpool, from 1985 to 1987. Its mesmerizing aura continued to captivate audiences at The Museum of Liverpool Life until 2002 and even made its mark in the global counterculture exhibition ‘You Say You Want a Revolution?’ in 2016.
The ‘Psychedelic Eye’ mosaic, steeped in the essence of the swinging sixties, stands not just as an artwork but as a testament to Lennon’s creative odyssey, offering enthusiasts a rare glimpse into the soul of the legendary musician’s private world.