On Monday I went to take a look at the new exhibition in Kensington Gardens. Turning The World Upside Down consists of four, highly polished, stainless steel sculptures by Anish Kapoor. I have to confess that I have a large dollop of magpie DNA somewhere in my genetic make up. I love shiny things, not your common or garden bling you understand, but reflective surfaces that disturb and distort the world around them. I can’t pass a convex security mirror without pointing my camera at it, so it was inevitable that this would draw me in.
Two of the pieces are concave mirrors, angled slightly upwards, they are designed to suck in and concentrate the sky. The larger Sky Mirror is around 10.6 metres in diameter and has formerly been set up in New York and Brighton. In London, it’s placed on the east bank of the Long Water where it can take advantage of the setting sun, and even in Mondays watery overcast it was reflecting a constantly changing pattern of light and shade.
The smaller, east facing, Sky Mirror is set a couple of metres into the Round Pond. It has been given a red coating which seems to improve the contrast between sky and cloud (a bit like using a red filter with B&W film perhaps). As well as reflecting a rosy sky, it looks pretty good mirrored on the surface of the pond and stands out beautifully against the backdrop of Kensington Palace.
Non-Object (Spire) is a tall, concave sided, cone. For me, this was (marginally) the least successful of the four pieces. Undeniably beautiful in its own right, I found its reflective qualities a little lacking, although I suspect that a blue sky and some autumnal colours will pretty quickly demolish that opinion.
The final piece is the 7.7 metre wide C-Curve. The convex outer surface gives you a mighty, slightly curvy panorama, dotted with tiny figures and with Kensington Palace in the far, very far, distance. The concave inner surface is a whole different ball game. The images are largely, though by no means wholly, inverted. The landscape is compressed. Figures are stretched and distorted. Moving a foot either backwards or forwards, of from side to side, will change the view completely. It’s difficult to walk away, just in case you’ve missed something……………………but perhaps that’s just me.
Monday was not the day to see them at their best, yet they were still impressive. They will remain in Kensington Gardens until the 13th March, so it will be interesting to see them on blue sky days, autumnal days, winter days, sunset evenings and sunrise mornings. Not to mention the effect of the reds and golds, bare branches and fresh green growth.
I’m lucky, I live near by and I think that I’ll be a frequent visitor. Maybe I’ll see you there!
In the unlikely event that someone from the Serpentine Gallery or the Royal Parks should read this, could you please do something about the Security Guards. I accept that, sadly, it is necessary to have security, but given the nature of the works would it be possible to provide them with more subdued jackets!
After the Afterthought
Hiding, or disguising, the maintenance vehicles parked by the Sky Mirror would also be greatly appreciated!
There are more pics on my Flickr photostream.