Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Street sculpture in Notting Hill Gate

Dotted around Notting Hill Gate you might notice little bits and pieces of sculpture, on top of buildings mainly. There's an arcade of shops with stripy mosaic decoration on the pillars, and an abstract mobile that looks like a broken television aerial, clinging to the side of a building. These are all projects carried out by the unlikely-sounding Notting Hill Improvements Group, and it's apparently privately funded and in their own words, 'dedicated to improving the general environment including the character, appearance and facilities provided by Notting Hill Gate for the benefit of both local residents and visitors to the area'.

Star of the show is this quirky stylised elephant, the Carnival Elephant by Lebanese urbanist and sculptor Nadim Karam, made as a sort of trelliswork of delicate stainless steel bars. It's on the pavement outside Waterstones, at the bottom of the steps leading up to a bleak 60's tower block. You might not realise at first what it is, but look closely and there are four legs, eyes and trunk. The eyes are pair of little aluminium propellers, one of which spins but the other one has blades missing, putting it off-balance. The lack of safety measures is refreshing: in 2004 the Group discussed some kind of warning texture in the paving to stop anyone walking into it, but that never got done, so you have to assume people have more sense.

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