The world’s dictators rarely inspire thoughts of fluffy animals, even if their actions are often inhuman. But in response to reports of anomalous animal behaviour following changing environmental conditions, artistic duo London Fieldworks began their Super Kingdom project, creating bird boxes and housing structures for animals based on the palaces of infamous dictators.
For Up Projects and Space’s garden party and open studio event in London’s Islington this week, London Fieldworks have developed the project in an altogether more benign direction. Instead of creating gated community developments such as Alphaville in Brazil, the duo have made a city of bird boxes around an Ailanthus altissima, otherwise know as the Tree of Heaven, inspired by the architecture of nearby Duncan Terrace Gardens.
London Fieldworks artist Jo Joelson explains that the installation reflects the two types of housing in the area – Georgian terraces and 1960s social housing. ‘Half of the bird boxes are rectangular and feature recessed square and arch shapes to reflect the upper and lower windows of the Georgian terraces. The other boxes are square and have recesses to reflect the flat’s balconies,’ she says.
Joelson, fellow artist Bruce Gilchrist and their team used small cranes called cherry pickers to assemble the structure. The boxes are attached to the tree using a complicated network of elastic bands developed with the Forestry Commission so that they will expand over time leaving the tree to grow unharmed.
Joelson says, ‘Its an organic process working with each tree. There are lots of different angles as you walk around. It has to be right from each perspective.’
Artist Shane Waltner, who creates colourful woven installations in a variety of spaces, will be also be creating a piece at Tibby Place for the event. His work will weave around the ironwork ruins of the former Tibberton baths and will be accompanied by a dance and music especially devised for the installation.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to meet the London Fieldworks artists and look round the studios at Space, a charitable organisation that provides support and resources for artists.
The garden party and open studios event takes place on 15 July, 6 – 9pm at Greenman Street, Islington, London N1.