Two five-metre-tall sculptures designed by Steuart Padwick will arrive in King’s Cross for this year’s Designjunction event as part of London Design Festival, aiming to tackle mental health issues in public art form. As a follow-up to last year’s Head Above Water piece, also by Padwick which overlooked the Thames on the Southbank, this is another public art piece created in support of mental health anti-stigma initiative Time To Change.
The wooden anthropomorphic cuboid assemblages will exist in two stances, sitting and standing, leaning on and carrying stone blocks – which represent emotional burdens. The sculptures will exude breathing sounds, and when a person approaches one of the pieces from the front, they will trigger a proximity sensor and the “burden” will appear to crack and emit a glow of light. Then, because (conceptually) the figure’s burden is lessened by the visitor approaching them, it will begin to say positive, uplifting words to its new confidant. These words have been written by a selection of poets and writers.
“Many of us carry issues/burdens that hold us down and hold us back,” Padwick explains of the ideas behind Talk To Me. “For some, these are crippling, and for some even lead to taking their own lives. These burdens can start so young and appear insurmountable, unresolvable. But often communication is the key to unlocking the journey forward. Even when the burden is not overtly holding them down it is rarely far away. That is why one piece has the burden clearly on the shoulders, and with the other sitting piece, the burden is to one side – perhaps forgotten for a moment but always near.”