A site-specific sculpture by Ugo Rondinone and a mural celebrating National Health Service workers by Catherine Yass will be unveiled next year at Paddington Square in West London as part of a major new public art initiative.
The Paddington Square project is led by the developer Sellar, the company behind the Shard, and the London-based curatorial agency Lacuna Projects, which developed the long-running Sculpture in the City initiative. The new commissions are part of the regeneration scheme focused on the area around Paddington Station, the centrepiece of which is a new public plaza and building—a tower dubbed the “ice cube”—designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.
Rondinone’s five-metre-high bronze work, his first permanent public art commission in the capital, will provide “a bold new focal point for the millions of visitors travelling between Praed Street and Paddington station each year”, says a project statement.
Yass’s photographic installation will cover a 24-metre-long wall of St Mary’s hospital nearby. The artist has been working closely with a cross-section of NHS staff, the in-house curatorial team and various stakeholder groups to ensure that the work is reflective of the hospital’s past and present accomplishments, says Stella Ioannou, the director of Lacuna Projects.
Meanwhile the American multimedia artist Pae White will suspend a “large and experiential installation” which frames the entrance to the new 14-storey workspace [building] designed by Piano, adds the project statement. White tells The Art Newspaper that she is “still working on the details of the engineering”.
The programme will also involve The Showroom, a public contemporary art space based nearby Paddington Square, which has commissioned a series of collaborative murals to be displayed in Tanner Lane located between Paddington Square and St Mary’s Hospital.
The German-born artist Kathrin Böhm will launch the series in 2022, which is based on the theme of “care”. She will be followed by the London-based artist Rhea Dillon in 2023 and then the publishing house Long Distance Press (made up of co-founders Adam Shield and Thomas Whittle) in 2024.
“Working with a critical grass-roots organisation like The Showroom—who have been embedded in the Paddington local community for many years and reflect London’s artistic, discursive and social diversity—is a significant shift from previous curatorial approaches to public art,” argues Ioannou.
A jury of public art experts—including Andrea Schlieker, director of Exhibitions and Displays, Tate Britain, and Eleanor Pinfield, head of Transport for London’s Art on the Underground–helped oversee the selection of artists.
“Inclusivity and diversity were key considerations of our shortlisted artists and jury representatives; out of six art commissions, four are produced by female artists and there is significant cultural, ethnic and national diversity among the selected artists as well as making sure the overall public art programme is engaging and engaged,” Ioannou adds.