Lakwena’s joyful artwork wraps an electrical substation in London
At 21 metres high, it stretches just above the Angel of the North, and spreads to 52 metres in length. However, London’s newest bid for a landmark is, unusually, an electrical substation in Brent Cross Town – the regeneration project towards the north of the city.
Perhaps aware that a substation isn’t typically a sexy addition to the skyline, London-based artist Lakwena and architecture firm If_Do were enlisted to transform it into an ‘artwork’.
Top photo by Jason Hawkes; Above by John Sturrock
The structure itself resembles a rollercoaster formed out of uneven, curved tiers. Those tiers are made out of triangular panels that create a lenticular effect, so the design itself appears to change as onlookers move around the building.
The project was inspired by a range of public touchpoints – from billboards to funfairs – as well as photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering motion experiments.
Image: John Sturrock
Lakwena’s artworks are often a blend of colourful graphic compositions and uplifting messages, and have been installed in the public domain in the past. In the Brent Cross Town project, her message ‘Here we come, here we rise’ is expected to be seen by six million people annually from the road and the railway line.
In a 2021 interview with CR, the artist spoke about the draw to public art and “painting outside”, where “there’s kind of a freedom, there’s a buzz. It feels more democratic, because most people don’t go to galleries. I don’t know what the stats are, but it’s only a certain type of person who walks into a gallery, whereas I’d like my work to be seen by more than just those types of people.”
Photo: John Sturrock