Moving In (working title)
by Florian Roithmayr, commissioned by Tideway
Artist Florian Roithmayr has been commissioned by Tideway to create an artwork for the new public realm site at Chelsea Embankment.
The artwork is a tactile artwork integrated into the public realm’s brick vertical planes; as much experiential as visual.
The permanent Tideway commissions respond to the site-specific narratives set out in the Tideway Heritage Interpretation Strategy (HIS). The cultural meander for the Central section is – Babylon to World City: Civic London’. The site-specific narrative for the site is the Royal Hospital Chelsea’s status as a place for retreat and respite for Chelsea Pensioners after serving in the military is a key influence on the commission. Christopher Wren’s design of the Hospital as a place of ceremonial display has also been an important source.
Florian Roithmayr in response to the HIS has developed an artwork which takes its inspiration from the restful environment of the Hospital, its architecture and brickwork, as well as the colourful coming and goings of the Ranelagh Pleasure gardens have all been inspirations for the artist’s proposal.
Groupings of glazed bricks in specially formulated patterns will be integrated throughout the vertical surface of the public space, steps and inter-tidal terraces and the river wall of the foreshore structure. The brickwork highlights architectural edges and contours, blurring transitions through incorporating changes in brickwork or corner stones. This design vocabulary is explored in the art commission, in highlighting, softening or emphasising contours, corners, edges, and planes.
The artwork aims to make visual, physical and conceptual connections back to the river. The position, placement, texture and colour of the brickwork will reference the river as the vital source of nature, pleasure and infrastructure it has been for centuries. Clusters of coloured bricks will create pockets of retreat and respite; revealed through the visitor’s movement through the space.
The glazed brick work is embedded into the public space, running along the contours of the terraces, marking and indicating changing water levels of the river Thames. The rising and falling of the Thames water level; the movement between what is visibility and invisible, between what is revealed and what is covered.
Another theme is direction, suggested by the movement and change at the site. This is indicated through the strong axis formed by the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the Bull Ring, foreshore site, and as a viewing line across the river towards Battersea Park. There is also the movement of the tide, the emergence and submergence of materials and intertidal terraces, and the invisible tunnel below ground and the visible ventilation column above ground.
The colourful tones of the brickwork are suggestive of the historic celebrations that sometimes took place on the Thames; the annual Chelsea Flower Show and the historic context of the Ranelagh Pleasure Gardens.