The London Mastaba

Today marked the opening of The London Mastaba, a temporary sculpture in Hyde Park, by world-renowned artist Christo.

The sculpture, which consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform in the Serpentine Lake, will be on view until 23 September 2018. The London Mastaba is the first major outdoor public work by Christo in the UK, and it coincides with an exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries of Christo and his late wife Jeanne–Claude’s work, which opens 19 June and continues until 9 September 2018. Today’s launch was attended by Christo, Serpentine Galleries Chairman Michael R. Bloomberg, London Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries Justine Simons, The Royal Parks Chairman Loyd Grossman, Serpentine Galleries CEO Yana Peel and Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist. Both The London Mastaba and exhibition are free to the public – no tickets or reservations are required.

Justine Simons, OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: “I’m delighted that this major new work by Christo has a home in the capital this summer. The striking sculpture in the Serpentine Lake is the first work by this internationally acclaimed artist in the UK. I encourage Londoners and visitors to come down and enjoy world-class art for free in the gorgeous surroundings of Hyde Park. It shows once again that London is open to people, ideas and creativity.”

For three months, The London Mastaba will be a part of Hyde Park’s environment in the centre of London,” said Christo. “The colours will transform with the changes in the light and its reflection on the Serpentine Lake will be like an abstract painting. It has been a pleasure to work with The Royal Parks to realize The London Mastaba and with our friends at the Serpentine Galleries to create an exhibition showing Jeanne-Claude’s and my 60-year history of using barrels in our work.”

“The Serpentine is known for pushing artistic boundaries and celebrating bold experimentation — and that is the spirit that Christo and Jeanne-Claude exemplify,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Serpentine Galleries Chair. “As a free museum, the Serpentine is also a fitting place to celebrate two of the greatest public artists of our time. Public art draws people together, starts conversations and attracts visitors who support local businesses and generate revenue for cities. The London Mastaba is sure to bring these benefits to London, just as The Gates did in New York City.”

The London Mastaba:

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The construction of Christo’s temporary sculpture began on 3 April 2018 by JK Basel, Deep Dive Systems, and Coventry Scaffolding as well as a team of engineers from Schlaich Bergermann Partner. The London Mastaba consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform, 20 metres (65.5 ft) high x 30 metres (90 ft) wide (at the 60° slanted walls) x 40 metres (130 ft) long. Standard 55 gallon barrels, 59 x 88 cm (2 ft x 3 ft), were fabricated and painted for the sculpture. The sides of the barrels, visible on the top and on the two slanted walls of the sculpture, are red and white. The ends of the barrels, visible on the two vertical walls, are blue, mauve and a different hue of red.

The sculpture’s floating platform is made of interlocking high-density polyethylene (HDPE) cubes and is held in place with 32 6-tonne anchors. The barrel-supporting substructure consists of scaffolding and a steel frame that connects to the floating platform. The sculpture’s total weight is 600 tonnes and its footprint takes up approximately 1% of the total surface area of the lake.

All construction materials are certified as having low environmental impact to preserve the ecosystem of the lake. The removal of the sculpture will begin on 23 September 2018. While some equipment and materials, such as scaffolding, have been rented and will be returned, the other materials will be removed and industrially recycled in the UK following the project. The London Mastaba is being entirely funded by Christo, through the sale of his original works of art. No public money is used for Christo’s projects and he does not accept sponsorship.

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Hyde Park:

The Royal Parks oversees 5,000 acres of historic parkland, including Hyde Park, in the heart of London. The Royal Parks has worked very closely with Christo and his team on this project, and the artwork also presents an opportunity to enhance the conservation area and associated wildlife of Hyde Park. In addition to ensuring there will be no negative ecological impact, the Serpentine Lake will benefit from substantial investment after the sculpture is removed. This includes ecological improvements on Serpentine Island and the creation of new habitats. These efforts, funded by the artist, will improve conditions in the lake, including litter clearance and the re-treatment of Phoslock on the lakebed to reduce the growth of harmful algae.

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.”


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