Our wall

The wall sculpture commissioned by Finchley Quakers has both a striking clarity and an element of mystery to it. 

The aim was for the artwork to present a question, rather than make a statement or demand.

Through a series of creative workshops with the litter picking group of the Finchley Quakers we experimented with a process of making casts of discarded bottles that they had found. Through pouring and setting liquids in bottles the element of water and the specific idea of water levels became part of the work. 

Since David Attenborough's Blue Planet series plastics in the ocean have become a catalyst for concern that encapsulates the great complex issues of climate change and pollution. 

To clarify and simplify the practical challenge of making the sculpture I limited the range of materials and chose to only use white plaster casts of the moulded plastic bottles. These are contrasted these with formal wave patterns cut from flat grey reclaimed roof slates, a stone laid down by past oceans. This palette of grey and white is formal and elegiac, contrasting with the warmth of the brickwork. However there is life in the way that the bottles appear to bob about, randomly breaking the formal pattern of the waves on the wall.
 
I hope to present the bottles as symbolic objects, worthy of our attention. They could be seen to represent navigation buoys on a sea, ringing warning bells that we ignore at our peril or as markers of the Anthropocene; a new geological era when we have it in our power to define the paths of new extinctions and choose what type of fossils we leave behind.
 
The design of sculpture is also intended to complement the architecture of the building; not to feel out of place and, by extension, to be appropriate to the philosophy of the Quakers themselves. 

Art is one of the many ways we have communicate and the opportunity to work with the Quakers and install an artwork
on their elegant and restrainedhouse breaks an important silence on their behalf. Itsignals the urgency with which they and I feel the need to discuss and come together around the unprecedented challenges of our time. Perhaps the question it asks is whether one step towards positive change is to pause, pay attention, listen and gather act together.

By Alistair Lambert