Lionel Thomas and Patricia Thomas
Untitled (Symbols for Education), 1958

Lionel Thomas & Patricia Thomas

Untitled (Symbols for Education)
, 1958

enamel tile
610 x 870 cm
Commissioned by The University of British Columbia, 1958

Located on the exterior of the Brock Hall Annex entrance, this mosaic was commissioned by the Graduating Class of 1958 for the new wing of the building. Through the use of symbol and colour, the mosaic represents the UBC faculties and departments through 54 separate blocks of varying sizes. Many of the symbols are easily decipherable, such as the one for Music, located at the top centre of the mural, which pictures a twelve-tone scale and ear. Others are more esoteric, such as the image in the square at the bottom right hand corner, which is an early Greek symbol for family and home, and in this context is meant to represent Home Economics.

Lionel (1915-2005) and Patricia (1918-2011) Thomas collaborated on many projects together. Patricia (née Simons) became well known across North America during the 1950s as a pioneer in the field of architectural colour consulting. Lionel worked predominantly as a painter until the mid-1950s, after which time his practice shifted and he became recognized for his murals and sculpture. The Thomas’ advocated an interrelationship between the arts and emphasized the importance of collaboration between the disciplines of architecture and fine art, evidenced by Lionel Thomas’ teaching appointments at UBC’s Departments of Fine Arts and Architecture. They were committed to these ideals of the modern movement and were instrumental in bringing them to Vancouver. The pair’s painted mural The Pacific Rim (1969) hangs in the student union building, The Nest, and is part of the collection of the Alma Mater Society.

Outdoor Art Tour with Weiyi Chang, August 22, 2016
Lionel and Patricia Thomas’ Untitiled (Symbols for Education), 1958