The London Festival of Architecture 2010 see the unveiling of a major new public art work by Reuben Powell. The 4m x 2m painting on tin-plate steel is on permanent display at 160 Tooley Street; the new headquarters for Southwark Council. The work depicts an aerial view of the Elephant and Castle. Painted in oil paint on sheets of steel it depicts of a neighbourhood undergoing massive change. The regeneration of the Elephant and Castle is the largest regeneration scheme of its kind in Europe. This often maligned part of London, over the next few years will be transformed beyond recognition. Reuben Powell has been critically documenting this change from the perspective of a long-term resident of the area. This major work of art reflects the sense of anticipation and tensions present in the project.
Reuben has been working on this project for the past two years. Alongside the Tooley Street work Reuben is opening his 6000sq ft studio in the Elephant and Castle to the public. On display are many of the large-scale graphite on paper drawings of building and demolition sites in the area. These vast drawings are imbued with the same tension as the Tooley Street work. Produced rapidly with broad dark lines they also have an intricacy and sensitivity reflecting both the public and personal sense of anticipation and mourning for the changes occurring. Many of the working studies and drawings for the major work are exhibited too; 2m oil paintings on steel, smaller drawings, and a limited edition print of the work.
There are several 6m long drawings by local primary school children printed onto fabric. Reuben has been working with local schools as part of his project. Taken from sketched made by the children from the 11th floor of London College of Communication the classes have returned to the studio to make enormous charcoal drawings of their neighbourhood. As part of the festival Reuben is working with local schools to produce more of these fabulous drawings.
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