Londoners are going to be joined by two new, monumental interactive sculptures towering over the Kings Cross skyline from 13th September in a bid to further the conversation about the capital’s mental health.
Multi-award-winning British designer Steuart Padwick has once again teamed up with Time to Change to create the sculptures – titled ‘Talk To Me’. The sculptures will be situated along King’s Boulevard in Kings Cross, London, from 13 to 22 September as part of this year’s designjunction; a design festival which will take over key locations in the newly renovated King’s Cross area as part of The London Design Festival 2019.
As passers-by approach breathing interactive giant cuboid wooden figures, a proximity sensor is triggered, and they begin to voice poignant and uplifting words. These conversations start to crack the ‘burden’ to release a glowing light.
10mm Perspex® acrylic is used to create the glowing cracking effect within what appears to be solid concrete. The hidden metal frames are encased in clear Perspex® acrylic enabling the light to shine through.
Talk to Me is a hopeful piece, reminding us that through communication with one another the weight so many of us carry, can be lessened.
Padwick has designed these sculptures in Douglas Fir to convey a warmth and humanity in stark contrast to the strict cuboid shapes and “concrete” blocks made from natural acrylic stone.
The words for these five and a half-metre-tall sculptures have been written by notable poets, writers, actors and mental health ambassadors including, Rachel Joyce, Barney Norris, Olly Todd, Elliot Barnes-Worrell, Kirsten Irving, Anna Mackmin and Errol McGlashan (Uncle Errol).
Following 2018’s ‘Head Above Water’, a sculpture designed to provoke discussion around mental health discrimination; Padwick has designed this pair of gender, race and age neutral sculptures in two contrasting poses.
The series progresses from the standing figure carrying the burden on their shoulders to resting against it, highlighting that whilst the burden may not be overtly visible it is often not far away.
This important piece of public art addresses the stigma around mental health, an ever-growing issue in the UK.
To address some of the many design challenges, Padwick worked with Ramboll for the structural engineering, to ensure these 3 tonne sculptures could be delivered and erected within an hour, minimising any disruption to the area, and with Hoare Lea on the complex sound and lighting.
Steuart Padwick said: “Many of us carry issues and burdens that hold us down and hold us back. For some, these are crippling, and for some they even lead to taking their own lives. These burdens can start so young and appear insurmountable, unresolvable. But often, communication is the key to unlocking the journey forward.
“Even when the burden is not overtly holding them down it is rarely far away. That is why one piece has the burden clearly on the shoulders, and with the other sitting piece, the burden is to one side – perhaps forgotten for a moment but always near.”
Jo Loughran, Director, Time to Change, said: “We know that being open about mental health, and being ready to talk and to listen, can change lives. We’re thrilled to be supporting ‘Talk to Me’, which will act as an unmissable reminder of the power of hearing and being heard. You don’t have to be an expert to talk – just being human, empathetic and caring is enough.”
For last year’s designjunction, Padwick designed a ‘Head Above Water’. The ‘head’ was deliberately neutral in gender, ethnicity and age to show that mental health is a topic that touches everyone. It symbolised hope, bravery and positivity for those who’ve fought and won a mental health battle, as well as those who are still fighting.
Viewers engaged with the sculpture through a designated Twitter feed; their comments caused its lights to change colours, reflecting how participants felt in real time.
To get involved in the campaign this year visit www.steuartpadwick.co.uk/talktome
Photo Credit; Talk To Me by Steuart Padwick in support of the UK’s mental health campaign Time To Change, designjucntion, 2019(19-22 September). Image Daniel Shearing.