You probably wouldn’t believe that a building could melt, be built upside down, or be split into two with its top half somehow levitating. An electricity pylon couldn’t just fall from the sky, and 312 windows could never be identically smashed. The thing is, they can, and have. They’ve been brought to life by London-based artist Alex Chinneck.
Chinneck’s work is renowned for its ambitious scale and illusory nature. They are largely cross-disciplinary and cross-technical – architectural processes intertwining with sculptural processes, and engineering with art. The results are nothing short from magnificent. His piece From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of my Toes, or the ‘sliding house’, as it’s more commonly known, saw the façade of a home in Margate replaced with a brick front. It gave the impression that it was somehow sliding into the front garden. The detached four-storey house had been derelict for 11 years, had fallen into ruin, and Chinneck’s project was a kind of cultural or artistic rejuvenation not only of the building, but the area itself. The piece was followed on from his study A Pound of Flesh for 50p, a metre high brick wall made from dyed paraffin wax to resemble a proper brick, which then, gradually melted throughout the day.
His work is always a contextual response to its area, fitting into the aesthetic language of its surroundings, but always a little different, always astonishing, and always blending reality with something more surreal. Telling the Truth through False Teeth or the identically smashed windows of an abandoned livery factory where the same pattern was replicated on 312 glass panels. Take My Lightning Bolt but don’t Steal my Thunder involved replicating a section of Convent Garden which was then constructed to look as though the upper portion had broken off from its base, hovering in mid-air. It was an astounding feat, much like piece Pick Yourself up and Pull Yourself Together, a section of tarmac peeled back from the road, or A Bullet from a Shooting Star, a 35 metre tall latticed steel structure resembling an electricity pylon that had miraculously shot into the earth.
A graduate of Chelsea College of Art, and a board member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, Chinneck’s works are always full of sculptural considerations. He says that he is currently working on 15 projects all at different stages, 4 or 5 very large works with councils, and one architectural project of which he is particularly excited about. He’s very keen to move into an architecture studio now. It’s a slightly different approach, he explained.
This ‘slightly different’ approach is what we discussed with Chinneck early one morning, as he shared more about his fascinating work, thinking, and vision.
Read the rest of this interview on fluoro.
featured image: Aurelien Guichard/FlickrCC
Introduction by me, interview by fluoro’s managing editor.