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Jo Chapman
blackwall reach

The Blackwall Line

Public Art Commission, Blackwall Reach, London

Current project completion end of 2019

Public art project commissioned by Swan Housing for the new housing development at Blackwall Reach, London, originally the architecturally 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 printed vinyl 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.

The regeneration of Blackwall Reach will transform a key area of Tower Hamlets adjacent to the Blackwall Tunnel, replacing 252 homes with over 1500 new homes, commercial premises, new community facilities, an extended school and a new mosque as well as improved public realm and linkages to the DLR.

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.