Creativity Corner London Life Places Inspirational People

stuart haygarth’s strand installation

November 29, 2012

It was a couple of days ago that i saw a post on dezeen featuring the strand installation by stuart haygarth at the recently opened macmillan cancer centre.

I first came across stuart’s work around 2006. Fascinated by seeing an artist using rubbish as a raw material, i was quickly hooked. The tide chandelier was by far my favourite piece until now!

I couldn’t quite stop thinking about the strand installation so at the first convenient moment i hopped on my scooter to go and see it for myself. Upon arrival and entry to the centre i gasped at the sheer size and immense impact of the installation hung in the atrium. Wow! Photos don’t do it justice……

After a brief encounter with the welcoming staff i was greeted by the lovely james, who showed me around the building and gave me a little tour of the entire art project. I even got to see the very private roof gardens (psst, don’t tell anyone). Thank you james for giving up your time and generously feeding my curiosity!

Armed with my camera i felt like a child in a sweet shop. There was this bittersweet atmosphere in the air. The cancer centre was full of patients coming and going while i was admiring the architecture, design and artworks. Everyone was so nice and friendly i even had a little natter with one or two patients.

Stuart haygarth has been commissioned by the university college london hospitals NHS foundation trust to create a permanent installation for this centre in central london. Entitled ‘strand’, haygarth emabarked on a 45o mile coastal walk and collected man made objects, which have been washed ashore by the sea. Physically and mentally challenging the journey took him from gravesend in kent to lands end in cornwall.

Haywarth chose the walk along the coastline because, historically, the sea was viewed as the ‘unknown’. This seems to resemble the patients state of mind when diagnosed with the disease. It seems to me that sharing the ‘fear of the unknown’ was a big factor in the decision to embark on a solitary walk and source the debris from which to create this installation.

Patients and staff were also invited to contribute objects to the artwork.

Haygarth documented this journey with a travelogue of photographs and the objects have been categotrised by colour and are suspended from the atrium.

I think if i worked at the centre i would play a game with colleagues: spot as many recognisable objects as possible. I certainly played that game in my head whilst taking the photographs. How many can you spot?

I’m fascinated by colour, shapes, details and patterns and from that perspective i was in sheer heaven. I love how, depending where i was standing, be it the gound floor or at the top of the stairs on the first level, the light and the juxtaposition of the objects rewarded me with different viewpoints. Secretly i wished i was strapped in a harness and floating above it for yet another view.

One of the receptionists told me that before installation they just saw these suspended fine metal cables with a little note on each one. Everyone was waiting in anticipation for the mystery to be unfolded. Apparently it was hung within a couple of days. I’m so curious about that process. I wish the process was videoed. Was it?

It reminds me of the wonderful chihuly chandelier hanging in the foyer of the v&a. The hanging of it was a massive undertaking and was filmed. Look at the explanation of the cleaning process. I suppose i love the idea of knowing what happens ‘behind the scenes’.

On the first floor of the centre you’ll find these framed prints of the collected objects, some categorised by colour. I loved being able to see items close up and imagining their origin and history. There was a real sense of intimacy and an ‘unspoken’ knowing that these represented fragments from people’s lives.

In line with great storytelling, there was some ‘behind the scenes’ in the form of the map, illustrating the length of this journey. Additionally, haygarth printed a selection of postcards depicting the various beaches and sharing his diary entries with us.

Here i’ve chosen to show you haygarth entries for the first and last day of his journey. This really made the whole project come alive for me and i hope that people pick up the postcards and enjoy reading snippets of this journey.

I want to leave you with some images that encapsulate the fantastic sense of design used in this centre to enhance patients wellbeing as much as possible. Particularly fond of the 3rd floor, the teenage cancer trust unit, i was touched by the overriding sense of playfulness that made me want to hang out there. They had a snooker table, a football table and there was arts and crafts happening in one corner.

This marmoleum flooring, on the first floor reception area, was designed and generously donated by sir peter blake RA

I was very humbled and touched by so many aspects of my visit and you know when something just feels right? Well, this centre just feels right and stuart haygarth’s incredible installation just feels right. It’s like team work at its very best!

Strand was made possible by the generosity of the michael & morven heller charitable foundation.

After i returned home, i picked up the phone to stuart haygarth, introduced myself, and asked to interview him in his studio. So stay tuned for a real treat (have collected photos of it in magazines) in the new year.

Happy weekend everyone. Hope it’s colourful x

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  • Reply caroline @trend-daily November 30, 2012 at 12:55 am

    We are SO lucky, aren’t we… What an incredible installation, so bright, fun and engaging. Having said that, I love the line up of shoes-simple and beautiful. Look forward to the Interview in the New Year sweetie. Have a lovely weekend xx

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 1:12 am

      I know, living in London is such an incredible gift!!

      You’re right, the shoes are beautiful and haunting!
      Hope you are well x

  • Reply Igor November 30, 2012 at 1:06 am

    What a colourful feast, Tina!! Incredibly cool! And I love the idea of enhancing patient’s everyday lives and struggles through design. At least to the extent of its possibilities…great post!

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 1:14 am

      Colourful indeed!! Maggie’s Centres were the first to understand how design can enhance patients well-being. I wish all hospitals would get this simple fact:)

      Thanks Igor:))

  • Reply Micki November 30, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    I love it very much. The installation, the colours and – let´s not forget the place. You say “I certainly played that game in my head whilst taking the photographs” and indeed you transport this to me -right into my head.
    The whole thing is amazing! No better place for me to imagine to install all the things that surround our life into art, to chose alle the colours, just celebrate. It can be interpreted in so many directions – wonderful.
    Just to say i love it will be not be enough to describe. It´s really touching.

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 1:16 am

      Really pleased you like it but then I know you would like to have something like this in Germany. Although very clean and functional, I’m not sure they understand the notion of design and colours within the health industry. x

  • Reply geraldine November 30, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Tina, the photos of the installation are amazing and linking it to a patient’s perspective is so touching. Looking forward to the future interview. Have yourself a good weekend x

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 1:17 am

      Thanks Geraldine x

  • Reply Theresa December 1, 2012 at 2:11 am

    This is truly amazing, Tina! Both the installation and the cancer center are a design enthusiast’s dream. I cannot believe all of those objects were collected from the ocean. It’s disturbing in a way, right? It reminds me of the collection of garbage we have floating in the Pacific Ocean that is the size of Texas. Hm, perhaps Haygarth can work on this assortment next.
    I think it’s incredible that you were able to get an interview with Haygarth!! You never cease to amaze. Looking forward to reading it and hearing his creative point of view.
    Have yourself a wonderful weekend, Tina!

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 1:19 am

      Ha. Shall speak to Stuart about the Pacific Ocean….

      Yes, it is a little disturbing collecting objects from the sea but then I like that he recycles them into art!
      I’m just amazed at what is to be found, all the colours…

      For me this was a perfect project with a win win outcome.
      Thanks T:)

  • Reply leah of sang the bird December 1, 2012 at 6:36 am

    You visit the most amazing places. The framed prints carry such emotion.
    I love the feeling of having a friend who lives in London (I’m such a dag 🙂
    I hope you have a fab weekend! xxx

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 1:21 am

      Thanks Leah.

      You are so right. The framed prints remind me of darker days. In effect, I’m glad they were colour-coded because personally they reminded me a little of the Holocaust and the items the Nazi collected of the Jews. You would find piles of shoes, suitcases, clothes, jewellery…. I know this here is different!! xx

  • Reply Chi@106 December 3, 2012 at 9:36 am

    What an incredible labour of love Strand is! To think that he had to manouver a trolley over gates – amongst other things – speaks volumes about his dedication and determination. It’s hard to recognise some of the objects but the colours are so cheery and vibrant – not the first words that spring to mind when you think of rubbish. 🙂

    I LOVE his prints of the colour coded items too. I’d happily have the one of the shoes super-sized on my wall. And that flooring? *Gasp!*

    Great post/photos, Tina! x

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      I know, it was a hard piece to photograph. The place was full with people and I wanted to make sure I didn’t get anyone in the picture.

      A true labour of love – for sure!

      It’s funny because as much as I love the chandelier I really appreciated the framed prints and the travel diary. They just told the story beautifully and made me feel I was part of it!

      Yes, would be cool to have the shoes as wallpaper or big digital print.

      The flooring is a garish as in my photo. Incredible really. What struck me was how many people sat there in reception probably very worried or anxious and as a juxtaposition you have these bright and cheerful colours…

      Thanks Chi x

  • Reply Anya Jensen December 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Tina, what an amazing installation, the work and determination he put into this is astounding, and I too adore the hauntingly beautiful image of the shoes 🙂 WOW. I love London -and love seeing it through your fantastic eyes,
    Happy Monday sweetie,

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      I know you would love it if you were there.. so you!!

      Oh, well, good news is that I live in London, have a camera, am eternally curious and passionate about design and other subjects and blog!!! :))

      Thanks you sweetie. It makes me happy when I know you guys get inspired xx

  • Reply Catherine Bedson December 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

    A friend has artwork like these collected objects she got in South Africa and I was fascinated by it..wonderful installation. What a gift to the Cancer Centre, so uplifting for the patients. I also look forward to the interview with Stuart next year. It will be fascinating to hear his thoughts.

    Be careful riding your vespa around London..Nick (hubby) got hit by a car cycling to work last Friday morning (he’s fine, one broken rib) he’s still recovering).

    • Reply tina December 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Wow, am now curious what your friends artwork is like. I want to know how collected objects in South Africa differ to the UK.

      The Centre is truly amazing and what I love is that people working there are genuinely more happy in the workplace. It’s a win win situation for staff and patients which makes a perfect fit.

      Once again, sorry about Hubby and yes, I’m carefeful, especially in these weather conditions.
      Wish your husband a speedy recovery. x

  • Reply Nicola December 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Stuart Haygarth has excelled himself here – and so have you Tina!

    I keep one of his images for colour coding inspiration

    Look forward to the interview very much xx

    • Reply tina December 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks Nicola…. glad you liked it xx

  • Reply Holly December 4, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Just when I think I can’t be more amazed by your stories here you pop out another one like this! Tina, this post is so very special for so many reasons and has warmed my heart completely. Thank you for sharing.

    “It’s like team work at its best* – you couldn’t be more right – it’s magical really.

    Looking forward to your interview post with Stuart Haygarth.


    • Reply tina December 5, 2012 at 2:07 am

      Another one to bookmark and see when you come to London… so, are 3 months enough or do we need longer?
      The list is growing xx

  • Reply James Balston December 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Stunning installation, great example of recycling! Reminds me also of the work of Cornelia Parker

    • Reply tina December 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      If you’re in the area, pop in and take a look. You’d love it!

      I didn’t know Cornelia Parker’s work so thank you. Have now looked it up!

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