Artist Camille Walala to create new public artwork for Tavistock Place

Artist Camille Walala to create new public artwork for Tavistock Place

28 June 2021

The Box is delighted to announce a new public art commission by internationally renowned artist Camille Walala. The commission, which is curated by Alter-Projects, is a major highlight of our summer 2021 programme. It will form part of a series of events and activations designed to bring our newly created public square, Tavistock Place to life for the very first time.

On display from 15 July until 5 September, ‘Putting Things In Perspective’, Camille Walala’s new temporary installation outside The Box plays with plane and perspective, existing somewhere between 2D and 3D in the manner of a trompe-l’œil. This free-standing sculptural work measures approximately 6m long by 2.5m wide and 2m high.

The commission forms part of The Box’s inaugural ‘Making It’ exhibition which explores the labour-intensive process of creating new works of art from raw materials and also references Plymouth and the South West’s long history of making and craftsmanship. The work will be fabricated in London and hand painted in Walala’s Shoreditch studio with long standing collaborator and technician Simon Sawyer, before being transported to and assembled in Plymouth.

Made from marine plywood, the piece is an energetic dance of contrasting forms, vivid colours, soft lines and organic patterns. The sculpture’s 20th-century references range from the cubist paintings of Fernand Léger, whose boldly simplified treatment of modern subjects has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of Pop, to the monumental sculptures of Roy Lichtenstein, notable for his use of bold strong black lines and 3D patterns. In Walala’s hand-rendered black-and-white patterns there are traces of the allusive and figurative architecture and impulsive lines of Jean Dubuffet’s L’Hourloupe.

Devised through a process of collage – adding and taking away shapes until the perfect balance is reached – ‘Putting Things In Perspective’ represents an evolution in Walala’s thinking and approach. The signature symmetries and geometrics of her past work have acquired a softer edge and a more nuanced colour palette while continuing her long-standing concern with colour and public space.

Judith Robinson, Arts Programmes Manager at The Box said:

We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Alter-Projects and Camille Walala on this exciting addition to ‘Making It’ and our summer programme. Postponing our launch from May to September 2020 due to COVID-19 meant we missed the opportunity to create a programme for Tavistock Place last year, so we really want to make the most of 2021. Camille’s bold and distinctive style will have real impact in the space and will provide visitors to The Box and everyone who passes through the square with a striking and uplifting work of art to engage with and enjoy.

Pre-installation sketch of 'Putting Things In Perspective' (2021) by Camille Walala.
Pre-installation sketch of 'Putting Things In Perspective' (2021) by Camille Walala.

Artist Camille Walala said:

Being commissioned for The Box to create a public artwork was an incredible opportunity to push my work in a new direction. After the intensity of the last year, I find myself more attracted to softer lines, drawn by hand. I want them to be slightly imperfect. This year has been a good lesson of letting go. In the last few months I have really enjoyed spending time painting and experimenting with colours. Taking the time to find the right tone of each colour was really joyful and satisfying.

Anne-Laure Pingreoun, founder of Alter-Projects said:

I’m thrilled to be working with The Box on this project as Plymouth hold a very special place in my heart, having lived there when I was a student I had a clear sense of what I wanted to bring to it, and how I wanted to mark its artistic community. With that in mind, I knew Walala Studio was the perfect collaborator. Her use of colour and general style of work will bring great joy and playfulness to the area at a time when many of us are still struggling with the emotional aftermath of a year spent in isolation.

Two informal ‘A Closer Look’ talks by The Box’s public art officer are also on the summer programme and will offer an insight into Camille Walala’s artwork. The talks will run from 11am and 2.30pm in Tavistock Place on Wednesday 28 July. They are free with no need to book in advance.

Councillor Mark Deacon, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Culture, Leisure and Sport said:

It will be wonderful to see Tavistock Place brought to life by this prestigious work of art and the many other activities The Box is planning. Camille Walala has designed a striking installation that will inject colour and energy into the city’s newest public square and bring a feeling of much-needed fun and enjoyment over the summer months.

Main image credit:
Camille Walala in her studio, 2020. Photo by Dunja Opalko.