FIRST@108: Public Art Award 2015 - CHASSIS
21 February 2017 - 28 September 2017
Accessible during regular hospital opening times
Ground floor entrance foyer, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. 369 Fulham Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 9NH
The Royal British Society of Sculptors is proud to announce the completion of Chassis by Tabatha Andrews, an arresting new public sculpture which occupies the main entrance foyer of Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London. The sculpture forms part of a commission for the FIRST@108: Public Art Award 2015 which provides the opportunity for one outstanding sculptor to gain a track record in the highly competitive field of public art, and is a temporary addition to the extensive artwork collection which is curated and managed by the hospital’s charity CW+ and aims to improve the patient experience and environment.
Our memory is never fixed – it evolves, like a word in a game of Chinese whispers. Chassis is an exploration of memory; a cabinet of lost and missing things. Located somewhere between theatre set and everyday life, this sculpture invites the public to engage with it – transforming the space around them through touch and movement; providing the viewer with an alternative kind of ‘waiting room’; a place to pause and reflect.
At first sight we encounter what looks like a cross between a domestic wardrobe, a tool rack and an unusual elevator; absurd and humorous in the space it occupies between two escalators. The object could be upside down and back to front; its tactics of reversal and mirroring giving it the feel of a puzzle. Each side has extraordinary, tactile wood-turned handles reminiscent of dumbbells. On grasping the handles and opening the structure, another inner architecture is revealed; empty holes into which objects might have fitted; shapes designed to provoke memory and inspire a sense of play. Inspired by the ‘method of loci’ memory systems of the Greek ancients, Chassis refers to the relationship between mental objects and place. You can never experience both sides of the piece at once, and need to draw on the act of memory to hold the work in your mind. Its materials are left raw; birch ply, beech, steel and cast iron.
The process of making Chassis incorporates digital memory with tactile memory; shapes routed through digital drawing methods at the Fab Lab in Plymouth sit beside objects hand-turned in Cornish beech.
This is the second work on the theme of Memory by Andrews for the FIRST@108: Public Art Award. Andrews spent a year making The Dispensary, her interactive sculpture for dementia patients, which is currently touring wards for care of the elderly (of which there are 4). A short documentary about the making of The Dispensary provides an insight to the artist’s creative process, the medical profession’s response to the intervention, and most importantly, what the patients made of the sculpture.
Additionally, as part of the award, patients who were unable to leave the hospital were given a curated tour of Andrews’ supporting exhibition Altered States in the RBS gallery, facilitated by a remote virtual presence tele-robot, connecting them to the outside world and enabling them to access a cultural venue otherwise inaccessible to them.
Chassis, the final intervention in this extraordinary public art project, will be accessible to everyone (over 1000 people a day in fact), and like all good public art, will humanise our predominantly man-made environment and quietly enrich our lives.
The RBS would like to acknowledge the partnership with CW+ and the generous support of the Mirisch & Lebenheim Charitable Foundation for making this award possible.
Chassis was made with the support of Fab Lab at Plymouth College of Art