Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The London Mastaba

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The London Mastaba

Christo presents The London Mastaba, Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park 2016 – 2018, a temporary floating sculpture on The Serpentine Lake.

The London Mastaba is the first major outdoor public work by Christo in the UK, and it coincides with an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery of Christo and his late wife Jeanne–Claude’s work, Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Barrels and The Mastaba 1958–2018.

The London Mastaba consists of 7,506 horizontally stacked barrels on a floating platform, 20m in height,  30m wide x 40m long. Standard 55 gallon barrels were fabricated and painted for the sculpture. The sides of the barrels, visible on the top and on the two slanted walls of the sculpture, are red and white. The ends of the barrels, visible on the two vertical walls, are blue, mauve and a different hue of red. The sculpture’s floating platform is made of interlocking high-density polyethylene (HDPE) cubes and is held in place with 32 6-tonne anchors. The barrel-supporting substructure consists of scaffolding and a steel frame that connects to the floating platform. The sculpture’s total weight is 600 metric tonnes and its footprint takes up approximately 1% of the total surface area of the lake. All construction materials are certified as having low environmental impact to preserve the ecosystem of the lake. The removal of the sculpture will begin on 23 September 2018. While some equipment and materials, such as scaffolding, have been rented and will be returned, the other materials will be removed and industrially recycled in the UK following the project.

The proposal for the temporary sculpture included an ecological survey to ensure no damage to the lake or its surroundings. The Royal Parks has worked very closely with Christo and his team on this project and as a result The Serpentine Lake will benefit from substantial investment after the sculpture has gone. This includes ecological improvements on Serpentine Island and creating new habitats, including terrestrial invertebrate habitat creation, waterfowl refuges, heron baskets and bird and bat boxes. Works will improve conditions in the lake, including litter clearance and the re-treatment of Phoslock on the lakebed, to reduce the growth of harmful algae, and are scheduled to take place at a time to cause minimal disruption to wildlife and habitats.

The sculpture was paid for entirely by the artist and also presents a unique opportunity for enhancements to the conservation area and associated wildlife. As with all of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects, The London Mastaba was funded through the sale of Christo’s original works of art. No public money will be used and Christo does not accept sponsorship.