A POUND OF FLESH FOR 50P
The Melting House by Alex Chinneck
Alex Chinneck created a life-size two-storey house from wax that mirrored the scale, design and scenery of an archetypal Georgian property, before the bricks began to drip and warp leaving just the roof in a pile of melted wax on the ground after its 6 week duration.
Made from 8,000 especially cast wax bricks and wax windows and doors A Pound of Flesh for 50p was built to celebrate the history of a nearby candle-making factory based in the Bankside area of London a couple of centuries ago.
The bricks were hand cast from paraffin wax and terracotta making each unique, however collectively they mimicked the colour, coarse surface and irregularity of a real wall. The artist spent twelve months collaborating with chemists, wax manufacturers and engineers to develop visually convincing wax bricks that transformed in the most sculpturally effective way.
The house was melted by the artist with handheld heating apparatus commonly used in roofing applications. This method provided the control over the artwork’s appearance, duration and changing figure, inspired by the classic process of sculpting material to shape form in a contemporary and unique way.
The surreal spectacle, of architectural scale, captured the attention of local residents, commuters and tourists daily. Some visitors returned more than 10 times as the artwork was constantly transforming and evolving.
Date 42 days September/November 2014
Location A meanwhile public space, 40 Southwark Street, London Bridge, SE1 9HP
Commissioned and produced by Illuminate Productions in partnership with Better Bankside and Tate Modern.
Kindly Supported by Laing O’Rourke, Select Plant Hire, Arts Council England, The UK Brick Development Association, Network Rail, Norbord Inc, Ibstock Brick and Smith and Wallwork Engineers and Southwark Council.
Key coverage total reach 900 million. Media included: BBC News, ITV News, CNN News, London Live, LBC Radio, BBC Radio 4 & 6, The Independent, The Times, Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Guardian.
London-based artist Chinneck takes sculpturally complex routes to arrive at playful visual moments. Exploring the space between art, theatre and architecture he is inspired by the landscapes of London’s industrial peripheries. He reworks their powerful aesthetics and aims to find new and ambitious applications for everyday construction materials. The unrefined materials of basic construction are given a second life. Removed from their utilitarian context they are reshaped and enlivened with new purpose and appearance. Stones, metals and woods are manipulated beyond their apparent capacity to transcend their material nature and often move with illusory effect.
Alex Chinneck is a graduate of Chelsea College of Art and a trustee of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. He has a history of making large-scale works in the public realm to great acclaim, including: From The Knees Of My Nose To The Belly of My Toes in Margate, Telling The Truth Through False Teeth in Hackney, London and A Bullet From A Shooting Star on Greenwich Peninsula, London.