Conrad Shawcross interviewed in The Telegraph about The Optic Cloak, his largest public commission to date

From eccentric prodigy championed by Charles Saatchi to Establishment success story, the sculptor Conrad Shawcross has come a long way… Yet though he is about to unveil his biggest project  to date, he is still a rebel at heart. By Alastair Sooke.

 

Earlier this year, the British sculptor Conrad Shawcross – the youngest member of the Royal Academy of Arts – stepped on to a stage at Central Saint Martins art school in King’s Cross, and began to talk.

 

His dark brown hair hadn’t been brushed for the occasion, and  he was wearing a scruffy jacket with a wide, curiously old-fashioned collar. If he had been standing in an atelier in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, he wouldn’t have looked out of place.

‘Um, hello,’ he said abruptly, seeming intense, gauche and charismatic, all at once. ‘Today, I’m going to talk about the most challenging commission I’ve done to date. But probably the most rewarding.’

 

Shawcross, 39, was referring to the largest public project he has ever undertaken. A few weeks after delivering his talk, he showed me around the site of the commission, on the Greenwich Peninsula in south-east London. 

 

In order to get close, we had to wear hard  hats and steel-toed boots. This was because Shawcross’s latest work – which is called ‘The Optic Cloak’ and will be launched on Wednesday – isn’t a sculpture, but a piece of architecture: a monumental metal structure, 160ft high, designed to conceal the flues of a new £18 million energy centre that will heat 15,000 homes and businesses.

 

When Greenwich’s council considered the proposal for the plant, it was faced with a conundrum. Since the plant was going to sit beside an important, traffic-choked tributary to the Blackwall Tunnel, which runs beneath the River Thames, its flues had to be tall, lest they exacerbate air quality in an area already blighted by pollution.

 

At the same time, Shawcross explained, the council feared that towering flues would be an eyesore – so the developer proposed boxing them in with 570 tons of steel. This bulky, ugly plan was ditched after another property developer, Knight Dragon, took over the scheme to regenerate the peninsula.

 

At this point, two and a half years ago, Shawcross won a competition to find an artist to transform the appearance of the flues. His innovative bid proposed surrounding them with a 4mm-thick ‘skin’ of perforated aluminium, consisting of many triangular panels  tessellated at different angles.

 

The idea was that the skin’s pleated surface, created by the interlocking triangles, would appear to ripple in the peripheral vision of  passing motorists. Shawcross said he was inspired by the‘dazzle camouflage used on ships during the First World War, as well as the eye-bending jagged shapes found in modernist paintings by the British artist David Bomberg.

 

Read more

The Telegraph Posted 17 September 2016

Victoria Miro

16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
t: 44 (0)20 7336 8109

info@victoria-miro.com

View map

Victoria Miro Mayfair

14 St George Street

London W1S 1FE

t: 44 (0)20 3205 8910

info@victoria-miro.com
View map

Victoria Miro Venice

Il Capricorno, San Marco 1994,

Calle Drio La Chiesa

30124 Venice, Italy

t: +39 041 523 3799 

info@victoria-miro.com
View map

 

 

Victoria Miro New York – Office

534 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011, USA
t: +1 (212) 229 2400
info@victoria-miro.com

Opening Times

London: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–6pm 

 

Venice: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–1pm & 2–6pm

 

We are also closed on Sundays, Mondays and public holidays. 


Admission free. Large groups should please contact the gallery in advance to book a visit.

 

Enquiries

All general enquiries should be sent to  
info@victoria-miro.com


Victoria Miro does not accept unsolicited artist applications.

 

Before contacting or subscribing please read our Privacy Policy

 

We respect the choices you make about how you would like to hear from us. You will find links at the bottom of all emails we send from our mailing list which allow you to Update your preferences to change the way we contact you, or Unsubscribe if you want to opt out.

Subscribe

Staff contact details

Directors

Victoria Miro
W.P. Miro
Glenn Scott Wright
Divya Pande
Executive Assistant to Directors
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 324 0903

Sales

Matt Carey-Williams
Senior Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4345
Director of Sales and Performance
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Director, Mayfair
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0494
Elke Seebauer
Director, Venice
Direct line: +39 041 523 3799
Clare Coombes
Director of Sales - Museum Acquisitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0919
Anna Fisher
Director of Sales - Americas
Direct line: +1 212 229 2400
Oliver Miro
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0496
Alessandra Modiano
Director of Sales
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4346
Mary Eleanor McNicholas
Art Fair Co-ordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0498
Louis Blanc-Francard
Sales Executive & Assistant to Matt Carey-Williams
Direct line: +44 (0)20 3205 8910
Fern Warriner
Mayfair Coordinator & Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 205 8910
Aileen Dowling
Sales Team Coordinator & Sales Administrator
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4344
Eilidh Watson
Front of House and Sales Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0) 207 336 8109

Exhibitions

Erin Manns
Director of Exhibitions - Head of Department
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0423
Rachel Taylor
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0431
Director of Exhibitions
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0918
Mary Taylor
Production Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0424
Special Projects and Production
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0426
Isabelle Young
Exhibitions Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Exhibitions Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0901

Communications

Kathy Stephenson
Director of Communications
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0422
Martin Coomer
Head of Editorial and Digital Content
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0915
Marisa J. Futernick
Digital and Social Media Consultant
Direct line: +1 (860) 549-2576
Hannah van den Wijngaard
Photography, Rights and Reproduction Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0428
Press and Marketing Co-ordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0912
Communications Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0499

Operations

Robert Holzberger
Director of Operations
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0495
Emer Bermingham
Operations Manager
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4349
Adeline Guy
Head Registrar
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7324 0916
Jayne Archard
Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0)207 324 0910
Alice Panton
Registrar
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0904
Clare Rowe
Paper Archive and Records Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0493
Elina Pelvanidi
Registrar Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 962 4348
Katrina Millar
Front of House and Events Co-ordinator
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109
Philip Ewe
Library Coordinator and Archive Assistant
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109

Technical Services

David Wood
Technical Operations and Buildings Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0900
Jon Glazier
Head Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0425
Jack Fenton
Buildings Manager
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7324 0914
Jonny Winter
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 9624 341
Gemma Geraghty
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0) 203 9624 340
Rob Phillips
Senior Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492
Ross Taylor
Technician
Direct line: +44 (0)20 7549 0492

Finance

Direct line: +44 (0)20 7336 8109