Maths and science are the inspiration for Conrad Shawcross’s poetic metal sculptures, not least the towering work unveiled at King’s Cross next week, he tells Ben Luke.
In a vast warehouse in Dagenham a remarkable sculpture is taking shape — Conrad Shawcross’s Paradigm, which, weather permitting, will be erected next week outside the Francis Crick Institute, the new biomedical research building next to St Pancras station. This steel tower, formed from a succession of tetrahedrons that grow in size as they stretch into the sky, will stand 14m tall and 5m wide at its summit.
When I see it, accompanying Shawcross on his latest visit to Benson-Sedgwick, the Essex engineering company that is constructing it, the sculpture is still in pieces, albeit large and impressive ones.
Shawcross, 38, is scampering around the warehouse, clambering up onto the finished part of the sculpture that lies on its side. He seems palpably giddy. “I haven’t been this excited about anything,” he says. “It’s going to be awesome, this piece, I think. Sorry, that sounds …” he breaks off, laughing sheepishly. “But it’s been such a long journey to get it there.” He is flush with the anticipation; arguably his most important work to date is on the brink of completion...