Covent Garden looks like it's floating away thanks to a new art installation

Effect was achieved using 10 tonnes of steel

Click to follow
The Independent Online

British artist Alex Chinneck has undertaken a mammoth new artwork in Covent Garden, London, collaborating with builders, engineers, robots and more to make it look like the Market Building in the piazza is drifting up into the sky.

The effect, which can be seen not just from a specific angle but all sides, was achieved using digital carving and four-tonne counterweights.

Entitled 'Take my lightning but don't steal my thunder', the sculpture mimics the Market Building behind it, its broken columns making it look as though the 184-year-old building is levitating in mid-air.

Over 100 people worked on the artwork, including structural engineers, carpenters, carvers, set builders, scenery painters, water jet cutters and a robot, with 14 tonnes of steel being used and a tonne of paint.


"Architecture is a brilliant canvas for creative exploration and distortion because it surrounds and contains us," Chinneck commented.

If you've spotted any other mind-bending, large-scale architectural illusions around London, chances are they are also his work.

Chinneck previously erected a "sliding house" in Margate and an upside down building in Southwark.

His next project is a full-size house made from 7500 wax bricks that will melt over 30 days.

Of the Covent Garden installation's title he said: "The thunder and lightning comes from the two separated sections of the building - they are forever together but always apart.

"I also liked how the silhouette of the cracked architecture shared the aesthetic of a lightning bolt. the narrative of the installation has a cataclysmic feel and thunder and lightning typically accompany such a theatrical scenario.

"I incorporated the saying ‘steal my thunder’ as I like to include common expressions in my titles to lend them a pleasing familiarity.

"The hovering section suggests as though it is floating away but the dense stone base feels extremely grounded, hence the request take one but leave the other."

The artwork will be in the East Piazza until 24 October.