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Pick yourself up and pull yourself together

Alex Chinneck’s Fantastical World

Born in 1984, this British sculptor, known for creating larger than life temporary public artworks merges art, architecture and theatre to create a ‘punch in the face’ impact.

Pick yourself up and pull yourself together

His spirited sculptures play havoc with the brain, flaming one’s fantasy along with global interest. If your lucky enough to experience Alex Chinneck’s surreal life-size artworks, you might wonder if someone spiked your morning cuppa!

Take my lightning but don’t steal my thunder

A Sprinkle of Night and a Spoonful of Light, was unveiled this year for Milan Design Week, where an old Milanese building was peeled open by giant zips, by far his most ambitious work. On show on Via Tortona, the installation saw one of the building’s 17-metre-wide facades flaying back, to reveal gaps in its interior walls and floor.

Chinneck who partnered with Iqos, the vaping and heated tobacco brand says, “Through the repeated use of the zipper, we have opened up the fabric of a seemingly historic Milanese building to playfully reimagine what lies behind its facade, floors and walls.”

A pound of flesh for 50p

A second sculpture was unveiled which saw the unzipping of a semi-circular concrete floor that radiated a bright white light from below. Chinneck excavated and re-poured the entire concrete floor in order to install the artwork, while his third, saw the unzipping of a factory wall. The projects were the artist’s first foray into Italy.

He is goaded by an intention to make as many people enjoy the drama he creates, developing a niche for gigantic outdoor sculptures. “We design a series of immersive experiences that present our material world in a new light. Familiarity is infused with fantasy as we playfully and literally stretch each visitor’s perception of what is possible,” he explains.

From the knees of my nose to the belly of my toes

Alex Chinneck first came into prominence through a series of installations in London namely, Telling the Truth Through False Teeth (2012), where he used 1,248 pieces of glass to create 312 identically smashed windows across the derelict facade of a factory in Hackney.

Telling the truth through false teeth

From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of my Toes (2013) in Margate, saw Chinneck create the illusion that the entire facade of a house had slid into the garden, while Under the Weather but Over the Moon (2013), a commercial property situated on Blackfriars Road was made to look as if it had become completely inverted.

A sprinkle of night and a spoonful of light

A Pound of Flesh for 50p (2014), saw a house on Southwark Street, made from 7,500 paraffin wax bricks slowly melt, while Pick Yourself Up and Pull Yourself Together (2015), took a Vauxhall Corsa and suspended it upside down in Southbank Centre car park.

Other works include Take my Lightning but Don’t Steal my Thunder (2014), a building located in Covent Garden designed to appear to float in the air, and most recently Alphabetti Spaghetti (2019) on All Saints Avenue in Margate.

Alphabetti spaghetti

By using recognised materials and architectural forms and turning them on their heads, Chinneck strives to change the viewers’ consciousness of what is attainable, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The Guardian has called Chinneck a ‘master of architectural illusion,’ while local residents in Hackney have dubbed him the ‘Banksy of Glass’ – whatever you’d like to call him, you just can’t ignore him!

Text By Natalie Pedder-Bajaj



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