Blackwall Reach, 2018
3m x 5.2m x 6.4m
Building site rubble, digital prints on wallpaper over wooden structures, urban plants,
Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
Photo: Stephen White, Darryl de Prez, Johann Dumelie
“All around London are spaces in transition, from vast demolition sites overrun with machinery to vacant plots taken over by wild plants while speculators wait for the right economic conditions for development. Rachael Champion creates site-specific installations that investigate these contested urban spaces, where political, commercial and ecological concerns intersect.”
Blackwall Reach, shown at the Whitechapel gallery’s 2018 London Open, is an installation responding to urban regeneration, the transitions of landscapes, and the material origins of our built environment. The work consists of eight tons of building site rubble, three architectural photographic sculptures and locally sourced urban plant life. The sculptures are derived from details of the renowned social housing estate Robin Hood Gardens located in Poplar, Tower Hamlets, designed by the late Alison and Peter Smithson. Robin Hood Gardens is (as of 2018) currently being "regenerated" into a private housing development called Blackwall Reach.
The sculptures are 1:1 scale representations of three of the buildings original architectural details and include the triangulated deck windows where a resident would enter their flat, an exterior balcony on the north side of building, and a sound barrier which (are/were) found along the perimeter of the estate.
The sculptures are clad in images depicting limestone quarries from the Peak District in Derbyshire, UK. Lime derived from limestone is a key ingredient in our most ubiquitous building material, cement. These images of Britain’s calcareous landscapes refer to the material origins of our built environment.