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03.11.2009

 

Roger Hiorns' Seizure of Elephant and Castle and the Turner Prize show at London's Tate Gallery

Tucked away in the concrete jungle that is South East London’s Elephant and Castle, lies a dazzling cavern of blue crystals. This mysterious space lies dormant for almost half the whole week, only opening its doors to curious eyes from Thursdays to Sundays.

All though the area carries the exotic sounding name of Elephant and Castle, don’t be fooled, this is not an undiscovered underground grotto! In fact, it is far more wondrous than that. The midnight coloured secret is an installation piece by Roger Hiorns, titled ‘Seizure’.

The former one bedroom council flat space that has surrendered to its seizure by blue copper sulphate crystals comes across as otherworldly. It is an oasis in the derelict, urban maze and traffic ridden streets of Elephant and Castle. It recalls the flabbergasted sensations many of us experienced as children, especially with those of us lucky enough to grow up with ‘magic trees’. Speaking of which, if you can’t make it to London, why not treat yourself.

However, when it came to creating Seizure, things weren’t quite as easy for Hiorns as pouring the pre-mixed solution onto a cardboard tree to grow crystals. First, an uninhabited council flat in a low rise modernist development set for demolition was sealed off with concrete. Neither air, nor light could get in; the former home was turned into a watertight tank and a copper sulphate solution was poured in via holes in the ceiling.

Then a two week waiting period commenced and the crystals were free to spread and seize the space, making it their own home. In a random process, born from the scientific precision of a solution, the blue glittering substance had crystallised to create a beauty as spontaneous and perfect in its imperfections, as one would usually associate with nature.

The flourishing crystals cover light fixtures, skirting boards, even an abandoned bath tub, leaving a rough cratered moon-like surface in their midst, which adds to the ethereal feel of the space.

When Seizure was first opened to the public, word spread as quickly as the crystals themselves, and the project has attracted thousands of people each week. Queues fill the derelict grey courtyard with chattering visitors, armed with packed lunches and chocolates to keep them refreshed for the wait before they plunge into this free and magical escape from the Big Smoke.

Seizure has deservedly earned 1996 Goldsmiths Fine Art graduate Roger Hiorns (*1975, Birmingham) a nomination for the prestigious 2009 Turner Prize. More of his work is subsequently also on show at the Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, London until 3 January.

SEIZURE by Roger Hiorns
151-189 Harper Road, Elephant and Castle, London
Thursday – Sunday 11am – 5pm
Closed Monday-Wednesday
Free admission


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