Sutton-walk is a special place poised between two differently proposed versions or conceptions of London. One is chaotic, the other has an idea of itself as ideal, a fantasy about how London could be. Both are London, both are legitimate, both are products of the citys fantasy of itself, both contain an aspect of the expedient, the contingent, error. The fact that Sutton-walk is merely a convenient route through a railway viaduct and has consequently become the most important pedestrian route to the South Bank is a testament to the way the city works. There is a history in Britain--a tradition--of urbanism by default. From Sutton-walk it is possible to see both two different Londons and the accidental space that that connects them, a space which is also characteristic of the city and its ways. It is a model for what may be the way that London is seen, and a visual model of its configurations. This is a natural condition, but since it is a product of the city’s idea of constituting itself, part of its imagination, it also an artficial condition. We are very interested in this artificial nature, this natural artifice. We believe that calling attention to it as an experience for passersby would heighten awareness of this part of the city, its specialness and the specialness of London.
At this stage, our thoughts about how to affect consciousness of where one is involves lighting Sutton-walk from two opposite directions in the manner of a location for a film. High output lamps positioned outside the space of the Walk and pointing directly into it would fill the volume of the space with brilliant light. Passersby would be framed in the light like players in a staged scene. As they enter the space--with the intention of emerging on the other side in another part of the city--they would find themselves in a fictive place symptomatic, emblematic and typical of London. Which is perhaps how a gate should be. Each player, each citizen would be intensely lit from both sides, at once in full light and in silhouette, casting shadows in two directions. The interior of the space they were passing through would also be illuminated so that its every detail was acutely visible. And, as each emerged from the light, the city that awaited them would be more plainly visible as it was.
Public art project competition in collaboration with Sergison Bates Architects client South Bank Traders Association