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Made from 7,506 barrels, horizontally stacked on a floating platform, this temporary sculpture obstructs the normal view of Hyde Park. The ends of the barrels are painted blue, mauve and red, effectively creating two vertical walls that resemble a textured canvas. The painted barrels have been carefully organised in a mosaic-like fashion, creating an almost kinetic visual effect. This eye-catching sculpture can be viewed up close by the side of the lake, or better yet from a pedalo boat on the lake itself. However, even if you are not within a close distance of the Mastaba, the vibrant hues of pink, purple and red can be seen shimmering through the trees from all around, juxtaposing the natural shades of green and blue within the park.
Christo and his late wife Jeanne-Claude are renowned for their large-scale environmental projects and temporary sculptures worldwide. Their first artistic collaboration was in 1961, where they created Stacked Oil Barrels and Dockside Packages at Cologne Harbour. Details of all their uses of oil barrels from 1958 to today can be found at a simultaneous exhibition on their works at the Serpentine Galleries.
The idea of the Mastaba was first conceived in 1977 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. They originally designed a pyramidal sculpture that reflected Islamic architecture to be built in the desert near Abu Dhabi and consist of 410,000 multi-coloured barrels. Therefore, the London Mastaba is not where their vision ends. It is merely a down-sided test run for Christo’s Abu-Dhabi project. If successful, this project will be eight times as high as the London Mastaba, making it the largest sculpture ever created.
Due to Christo’s firm belief that all art should be free, he has personally funded this project through the sale of his original works of art. No public money has been spent on the project and Christo does not accept sponsorship. He has stated that, like with all his public structures, “The London Mastaba in Hyde Park will be absolutely free to the public – no tickets, no reservations and no owners. It will belong to everyone until it's gone.” On top of this, the project has been carefully planned to have low environmental impact, and Christo’s close work with the Royal Parks throughout the project has meant that Serpentine Lake will benefit from substantial investment for ecological projects once the sculpture is removed.
Whether your interests lie in architecture, design or art in general, we highly recommend everyone visiting this stunning sculpture before its deconstruction starts at the end of September!