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Your Space Or Mine

Introducing London’s smallest sculpture garden (…we think): Dancing in the Shadow of Henry

Dancing in the Shadow of Henry is the latest endeavour in our ongoing Your Space Or Mine program of creative urban interventions that seek to variously enliven UK cityscapes and promote both critical and entertaining engagement. BUILDHOLLYWOOD has invited Sarah Staton – acclaimed artist and Head of Sculpture at the RCA – to inaugurate and thereafter bi-annually curate a display of original, diverse and intriguing works that prompt passers-by to pause, look and wonder. Staton’s Chicken and Egg is a brilliantly dynamic and colourful introductory sculpture.

Your Space Or Mine activities serve not only to support both emerging and established artists, but also inventively use street spaces to inspire and energise local neighbourhoods. This open-ended Dancing in the Shadow of Henry project looks forward to developing a relationship with St John the Divine Primary School, Camberwell with a programme of artist led workshops commencing in September 2023.

Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 3 is sited in the nearby Brandon Estate, hence the project title. And Moore’s Perry Green studio garden in Hertfordshire was also an inspiration for planting out this pocket sculpture park. Gardener David Doherty used perennial and evergreen plants including ivy, laurel and sea buckthorn to create an understated but beautiful green and silver shimmering surround for what promises to be an exciting new addition to public art in London.


Words by Adrian Burnham

Staton employs an expansive range of media and mediums in her practice. She is keenly attuned to sculptures’ capacity to be both monument – a socio-historical marker – and, at the same time, a delighting spur to curiosity regarding form, materials and craft. Her art derives from thoughtful conceptual intentions and often provokes unexpected narratives as people interact with it. “Woah, where’d that come from!?…” said one of a pair of purple blazered girls passing by Chicken and Egg, and looking back over their shoulders smiling, they continued their impromptu critique in what sounded like enthused and astonished tones.

The artist has said, “The chicken and the egg scenario is such a playful and reliable conundrum that anchors us back in time via the seemingly ceaseless continuum of generational links. This Chicken and Egg is like yin and yang, two parts of a whole, reciprocal and balanced… Contemplative sculpture and the hectic energy of a busy arterial London road don’t often meet directly in dialogue, but Dancing in the Shadow of Henry proposes just such an interaction. I’m really enjoying the relationship between sculpture, the trees and planting, and relentless red route traffic.”

Sarah Staton, Chicken and Egg, 2023

Contrasting with its stark breeze block plinth, Chicken and Egg – made from painted ten-millimetre-thick laser cut steel plate – is a colourful affair. The squiggly outline of a fledgling chick with its beady eyes, flutter of black lashes and pursed, bright red ‘kissy’ beak lend this hybrid form a comical air. A street level encounter with Chicken and Egg induces a beaming smile. The yellow chick is incongruously balanced atop long, spindly brown ‘road runner’ legs. All the better to see the work rising chirrupfully over the tall hedge that runs adjacent to Camberwell New Road. When viewed from the open side of the pocket garden we can see large drips of fried egg running down the side of the plinth, lush white against grey. Staton’s sculpture glows when it’s overcast, becoming even more luminous in sunshine. And, only when viewed from the top deck of a passing bus do we fully realise that the chicken’s clawed feet are indeed dancing in the bright yellow yolk of an egg.

Contemporary sculpture can take many varied and marvellous forms – Sarah Staton’s body of work being exemplary in this regard – so perhaps all there is to say with confidence in relation to future displays is we can expect the unexpected. I’ll leave the last word to our inaugural artist and curator, “The sculptures you will find in Dancing in the Shadow of Henry manifest as grass root, street-side, people-friendly, human-scale propositions, and it is both exciting and an honour to be working with BUILDHOLLYWOOD on this new platform for emerging artists and engaging new audiences.”

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