Derelict flat made into art


By Louise Ridley

dsc00704A derelict flat in Southwark has become a crystal cave for an urban sculpture tipped for Turner Prize nomination.

From the outside, the Robin Hood Estate in Poplar is a grey, low-rise 60s development. Behind the boarded-up doors and windows of flat 159 however, a transformation has taken place.

For his urban installation Seizure, ex-Goldsmiths student Roger Hiorns lined the derelict flat with steel and filled it with 70,000 litres of copper sulphate solution.

The liquid was drained away two and a half weeks later, leaving every inch of the flat coated with thick, bright blue crystals.

Sparkling grotto

dsc00694The flat now resembles a sparkling grotto, with crystals crunching beneath visitors’ feet. Pools of solution and lunar-like craters mark the floor.

Hiorns first experimented with copper sulphate at Goldsmiths in the late 90s, crystallising a small cardboard model of a cathedral.

He is fascinated with the unpredictable behaviour of crystal growth and the contradiction of “not having my own hand in the work”.

The essence of Seizure is the transforming process itself. “It is an overtaking of materiality,” says Hiorns. “It’s not a decoration, not a comment, but a real system of nature.”

The exhibit reached the 15,000 visitor mark last week, but on Sunday Flat 159 will be returned to the council for demolition.

Hiorns would not consider relocating Seizure to a gallery space: “No, it’s not for that. Abandonment is the fate of most buildings. It was part of the reasoning of the project that it would be destroyed.”

Seizure is at Harper Road, SE1, 11:00-17:00 until November 30, admission free


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