Christo, The Serpentine Galleries & The Royal Parks Announce First Major Outdoor Public Work By Christo in the UK

Artist Christo will create a temporary sculpture in Hyde Park, London, titled The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake). Construction on the sculpture begins today, 3 April, and it will float on the Serpentine Lake from 18 June (weather permitting) to 23 September 2018. This will be the artist’s first major public, outdoor work in the UK. The temporary sculpture will coincide with an exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries of Christo and Jeanne–Claude’s work (19 June to 9 September 2018), which will include sculptures, drawings, collages and photographs spanning more than 60 years. Both projects draw on Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s history of barrel artworks and will be an unprecedented opportunity for visitors to experience the work of one of the most pioneering artists working today.

“For a few months The London Mastaba will be a part of the Serpentine Lake and its natural and urban surroundings,” said Christo. “I am excited to realise this temporary outdoor sculpture in the UK this summer. Like with all of my projects, the construction, maintenance and removal of artwork will be entirely funded by me through the sale of my original works of art. The London Mastaba in Hyde Park will be absolutely free to the public—no tickets, no reservations and no owners. It will belong to everyone (until it’s gone). I am also looking forward to the Serpentine Gallery exhibition exploring the use of barrels in my works from 1958 to today, which will provide important context for The London Mastaba.”

Christo’s temporary structure, which will be built by a team of experienced engineers, will consist of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform in Serpentine Lake. It will be 20 meters (65.5 ft) high x 30 meters (90 ft) wide (at the 60° slanted walls) x 40 meters (130 ft) long. The standard 55 gallon barrels, 59 x 88 cm (2 ft x 3 ft), will be specifically fabricated and painted for this sculpture. The sides of the barrels, visible on the top and on the two slanted walls of the sculpture, will be red and white. The ends of the barrels, visible on the two vertical walls, will be different hues of red, blue, and mauve.

The sculpture’s floating platform will be made of high-density polyethylene cubes held with weighted anchors. A primary steel scaffolding frame is constructed on top of the platform and the barrels are attached to a scaffold sub structure. The total weight will be approximately 500 tons. The footprint of the sculpture will take up approximately 1% of the total surface area of the lake.

While some equipment and materials, such as scaffolding, will be rented and then returned, the other materials will be removed and industrially recycled in the UK following the project. The build of the artwork will be managed to ensure there is no damage to the site, including matting and load distribution to prevent surface damage to the Serpentine walkway. No work is being undertaken on grassed areas. All construction materials will be certified as having low environmental impact to preserve the ecosystem of the lake.

The artwork also presents an opportunity to enhance the conservation area and associated wildlife of Hyde Park. An Ecological Enhancement Strategy was developed with The Royal Parks, which is in accordance with National and Local planning policy. In addition to ensuring that there will be no negative ecological impact on the lake, the surrounding park or its wildlife, a number of substantial investments will be made in the park as a direct result of the project, including ecological works on the Serpentine Island, the creation of new habitats for birds and bats, litter clearance of the Serpentine Lake and re-treatment of the Phoslock system that protects the lake from algal bloom.

Loyd Grossman CBE, Chairman of The Royal Parks charity, said: “Christo is a world renowned artist who has enjoyed highly successful exhibitions in parks and open spaces in other leading cities across the world, but has never before exhibited in London. We’re delighted to be able to facilitate his first major public outdoor work in this country in one of central London’s finest and most visited parks. This will be an opportunity for park visitors to see an outstanding installation for free within an iconic landscape.”

Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: “I’m delighted that this major new work by Christo is coming to the capital this summer—free for Londoners, and for visitors from the UK and around the world to see—in the beautiful surroundings of the Serpentine Lake. To host such an important work by an internationally acclaimed artist shows that London is open to great art, creativity and to everyone.”

Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the exhibition of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s work at the Serpentine Gallery (19 June to 9 September 2018) will follow the extended trajectory of their use of barrel forms since 1958, a material chosen initially for its sculptural effect and low cost. Encompassing six decades of the artists’ career through drawings, collages and sculptures relating to temporary works and projects never realised, the exhibition will explore their steadfast commitment to creating forms with barrels for different sites in varying scales across the world. The exhibition will offer a historic context to The London Mastaba sculpture situated close by, and it will examine their singular ambition to create what will be their most ambitious and monumental sculpture in the Middle East. This will be the first exhibition of the artists’ work in a UK public institution since 1979.

IMAGE: The Mastaba (Project for London, Hyde Park, Serpentine Lake)
Collage 2017
14 x 11″ (35.5 x 28 cm)
Pencil, wax crayon, enamel paint, color photograph by Wolfgang Volz and tape
Photo: André Grossmann
© 2017 Christo