On Saturday 18 April, Conrad Shawcross will visit Dulwich Park for the formal ‘launch’ of his new work Three Perpetual Chords. The artist calls the three sinuous pieces ‘visual descriptions of musical chords’.
Regular park visitors will already have noticed the monumental works in place, in advance of the official event. Their presence is somewhat tantalising, obscured as they are behind see-through blue fencing – like peering through net curtains. But next Saturday, all will come into sharp focus when the screens are removed.
The dedication of this work in its public setting comes at the end of a long journey, which began back in December 2011 following the theft from the park of Barbara Hepworth’s Two Forms (Divided Circle). That philistine act – the work was crudely sawn from its base – generated a considerable reaction at both a local and national level. Only then did it become apparent how much-loved the sculpture had become. Dulwich Park Friends even commissioned a moving short film about it, called The Empty Shoes, which can be seen here: https://youtu.be/FkC1Y_CgYus.
Part of the Hepworth’s magic lay in the way its bronze colours and reflections altered as the ambient lighting and weather conditions changed; and with holes through the piece, it meant that from some angles light appeared to penetrate it.
The Shawcross pieces are made of cast iron and initially have a light, bright coating of rust that sits well with its surroundings. That is intentional – Shawcross had no desire for the pieces to be polished metal, and instead expects the pieces to take on an interesting patina over time. Echoing the Hepworth, viewers will be able to catch different views through the many apertures created by the curves of the three forms. This feature is likely to make the works popular with photographers, who will be able to capture an infinite variety of vistas across the park, framed by sections of the works or along the sight lines that connect them.
Once the pieces settle into their home there is every chance that they will become as popular as Two Forms.
The launch event is at 2pm on Saturday 18th April. There is more information on Southwark’s website here, including a short film about the making of the pieces. The launch will include the performance of a new piece of music played by the London Contemporary Orchestra. There will be free tea and cake!