public sculpture model
Concrete structure in between Radley House and Duxford House on a raised walkway in between Wolvercote Rd and Yarnton Way.
Thamesmead has some splendid and vast nature areas, but also areas of concrete galore. This space is inspiring because it is so strange. The walls are not quite tall enough to give a sense of intimacy, but one can feel quite strangely cold and alone there.
In my mind this became a sanctuary for myself and my friends and other inhabitants of those blocks.
The clay for the model came from the forest, Lesnes Abbey Woods. The sculpture was inspired by seeing children play after one of the lockdowns. While working in a local school I saw how some went right into joyful interaction and play, while others became anxious and struggled.
I think it was Boris Groys who talked about how anything that finds its way to a museum becomes dead. To see it from another angle - when it is a part of the canon, it is immobilised, and the lack of change, apparently is, what is called death. And so putting a joyful children's play in a form of public monument would have for me an aspect of irony, but also fear, sadness, at a prospect of this direct and innocent interaction being a thing of the past.
The work also relates to the below fragment from a novel by Andrzej Stasiuk. It is one of those things that would not leave my mind.
'I remembered the journey from Kaluza to Sighisoara. In our carriage was a Japanese folk costumes collector, with his Romanian guide; Somewhere past Apahida started a grassy desert. Never before have I seen such naked earth. Gentle hills dragged along the horizon. Sometimes the train climbed up a bit and one could see that beyond the horizon there was another one, exactly like it, and another and another. Tree-less and human-less space was a colour of something that awaits fire, a single match. There was nothing there. Occasionally some small builds flickered, a hut with an attached pigstie, a hay shed, and then again an abyss of air and folded earth. Small flocks of sheep appeared. Always accompanied by one man, not bigger than a pin. Under the burning sky, on the heat-ashed ground, they looked like they were lost in some blinding beyonds. They walked from nowhere to nowhere. Among the tender grasses lived only flies, birds and lizards. The earth produced heat and dust.
Now we have a wet and snowless December and the weather maps show that it reaches all the way there. The sky like a cloth filled with water hangs above Erdely and the hills instead of dust are covered with mud and rotten grass, and I'd like to be there and repeat that summer trip, this time getting off somewhere in Boj-Catun, with ten Romanian words in my head and five Hungarian. I can't even remember the station - it was so small and pathetic. It is possible that it consisted only of a metal board by the tracks, that's it. But I would like to find myself there on the 14th of December, without a concrete plan, because long ago I stopped being interested in the future and I get more and more attracted to places that resemble some kind of a beginning, in any case, places where sadness has a power of destiny. In short, I don't give a crapp about where we're going, I am only curious about where we came from. So - ten words in Romanian, five in Hungarian, Boj-Catun station and let's say, one million lei in small change, in order to see the void between heaven and earth, black buffalos progress through it. Five hundred kilometers to Vienna, eight hundred to Brussels, more or less, in the air line. That air though cracks somewhere and it pulls apart like techtonic plates that divide the continents. Yes, a little bit of monney, good shoes, something against the rain, bihorska palinka in a plastic bottle, and I'd feel quite well. Because the vission of those hills haunts me. Lately it shines through all of the landscapes that I see. Because somewhere between Valea Floridor and Ploscosem I believed anew that man was made of mud. Nothing else could have happened in such landscape. And it's sadness is only a result of the fact that it will never happen again.'
From 'Going to Babadag' by Andrzej Stasiuk
Translation by Dominika Kieruzel