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Jo Chapman
Blackwall Line

The Blackwall Line 2020

Public Art Commission, Blackwall Reach, London

Commissioner: Swan Housing

Public Art Consultant: Jeni Walwin

Fabricator: Artfabs

Completion: 2020 (delayed due to Covid19)

Public art project for the new housing development at Blackwall Reach, London, originally home of the iconic Robin Hood Gardens. The commission consists of a large scale sculpture at the entrance to the site as it is approached from the Blackwall DLR station and a linked ceramic printed window design. The artwork follows on from significant research into the history of the local area which inspired the thinking behind the steel sculpture in Station Square and the window design at the pedestrian entrance to the Square.

Based in Blackwall in 1910 the Hercules Rope Works specialised in making the Hercules ‘unkinkable’ rope. This was used in the shipping industry and was particularly associated with lifeboats. A rope knot known as the Blackwall Hitch was used to set up rigging when the lanyard was short. The particular form of the ‘Blackwall Line’ sculpture is derived from the shape of this knot and a painterly abstraction of the knot appears on the ceramic wall at the pedestrian entrance to the Square.

This is a significant commission for the Blackwall Reach Development. Just in the way that the new buildings and the landscaped areas surrounding them will provide residential, community and commercial facilities with strong design qualities, so the artist’s contribution will enhance the sense of place and reinforce the development’s overall ambitions.