Anvile Basingstoke

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Permanent installation in a concert hall lobby. The whole piece very slowly changes colour. The windows and the slit at the centre provide glimpses into a seductively lit interior space. Divided into two parts on the ground and first floors.

MDF, glass, fluorescent tubes. First floor piece is 2.4m high, ground floor piece is 3m high.

Client: The Anvil Concert Hall, Basingstoke
Architect: Nicholas Thompson of Renton Howard Wood Levin
Budget: £10,000
Photo: Artist/ Courtesy Nick Thompson
Manufacturer: Rob, Martin of Oval
Acknowledgments: Clare Ferraby, Charles Leatherland, Alex Brattel.

In 1993 I had an exhibition at Dominic Berning’s gallery. I made a ladder installation with three ladders, variations of the same format using positive and negative space and a room with wall mounted light box pieces (image no. 38). The architects, Nick Thompson and Clare Ferraby of RHWL visited the show and suggested the possibility of a commission within the Anvil, which was a new theatre and concert hall complex they were designing in Basingstoke.

The architects, engineers and I attended a full council meeting at Basingstoke Town Hall. There must have been close to fifty people around the table in a low ceilinged room clad with ceiling tiles. I had been na•ve enough to bring a 3 metre glowing ladder with me to present to the council. In order to stand it vertically I had to poke out the ceiling tiles and project it into the ceiling void. Whilst the councillors seemed to make their aesthetic decisions along party lines, so if a labour councillor wanted a glass anvil, for example all the other labour members thought that would be a good idea. After a lively and lengthy debate somehow the possibility of my making an installation was approved.

Months later, after many trials and tribulations and much stress, the works were finally resolved and as I’m putting some final finishes to the pieces one of the former mayors, who is being shown around, walks past greeting me with the sentence, ‘I’ve got to say I was dead against it from the beginning, but it’s all turned out bloody good. Well done.’