This immersive installation, located at Gloucester Road tube station, takes viewers on a journey through local history, where frogs, salamanders, tortoises, and dragonfly larvae come together to construct Joseph Paxton's magnificent Crystal Palace. Inspired by the Amazonian water lily, this architectural marvel originally graced the Great Exhibition of 1851, and now it is brought to life once more.
Chetwynd delved into the local history of Gloucester Road and South Ken Tube stations and discovered the fascinating story of the Crystal Palace, built for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The exhibition showcased revolutionary inventions, exquisite craftsmanship, and a wealth of cultural treasures, and its far-reaching impact also paved the way for the emergence of South Ken’s iconic cultural landmarks such as the Natural History Museum, the V&A, and the Science Museum.
Stretching along the 80-meter-long disused platform, the installation features five remarkable sculptures. Each sculpture, with a diameter of 4 meters, showcases intricate depictions of frogs, salamanders, tortoises, and dragonfly. The sculptures pay homage to the commemorative coins, medallions, and souvenirs associated with the Great Exhibition, as well as the iconic terracotta animal sculptures found in the Natural History Museum.
Accompanying the sculptures is a short film titled "Who Named The Lily?". In this film, Chetwynd guides viewers through the intriguing story of the lily pad's connection to engineering. Through playfully staged interviews with historians and academics filmed at notable locations such as the Natural History Museum, the film unravels the historical significance of the lily pad and its influence on the Crystal Palace's design.
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said: Chetwynd's exploration of the area local to Gloucester Road, the Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition has culminated in an artwork of extraordinary scale and ambition; a visual presentation of a history little known, creating visual stimulation as part of daily journeys.
If you find yourself on the London Underground passing through Gloucester Road, be sure to keep your eyes open for this captivating installation. "Pond Life: Albertopolis and the Lily" will be in situated at Gloucester Road tube station until May 2024, offering ample time to immerse yourself in its intriguing world. Prepare to be enchanted by the blend of history, nature, and imagination, as Chetwynd's artwork breathes life into a chapter of London's past.
"Pond Life: Albertopolis and the Lily" is an awe-inspiring addition to London's underground art scene, capturing the imagination of commuters and art enthusiasts alike. Find out more about the installation here.