Microscopic Park Life, Amalia Pica

Part of our Cultural Strategy for St William’s Prince of Wales Drive development, our brief was to add interest to the road that the development shares its name with, to integrate something unique which would function as a welcoming gateway and aid the refurbishment of a neglected railway arch. Connecting Battersea Park to the new development, it was important the artwork be enjoyable for passers-by and soften the transition from the park’s green space through into Nine Elms.

Neglected railway arch
Neglected railway arch

With curator Theresa Bergne, we commissioned London-based artist Amalia Pica to produce a large-scale design for a wall based work. Pica chose to highlight and celebrate the beauty within the diverse ecosystem of Battersea Park, and the organisms that inhabit it.

Her piece will create a new, colourful and engaging public space as part of this residential-led development, designed by Squire and Partners, that will transform a five-acre, former gasworks site.

Due to be installed in late 2018, the work will form part of a collection of public art in and around the Nine Elms regeneration area that will aid wayfinding and animate the changing public realm.


Exploration of Battersea Park
Exploration of Battersea Park
Exploration of Battersea Park

“This has been a fantastic opportunity to transform a challenging dark neglected public thoroughfare and instigate the creation of a new artist commission. It’s been very positive collaborating with Amalia, Theresa and the steering group and we’re looking forward to sharing the work with the wider public soon.

David Pierce

Collaborating with curator Theresa Bergne, and a steering group that included St.William’s Managing Director, Wandsworth Council’s Cultural Planning Manager and the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership Head of Culture, we considered a longlist of artists. Four shortlisted artists were invited to produce initial responses to the brief, which were presented at interview.

“Amalia Pica’s vision for this work caught our attention at the selection process. The process has captured the imaginations of everyone involved so far and we are excited to see how the artwork will shape the landscape and how the public will interact with it later this year.”

Alison Dowsett
Managing Director, St William

Consideration of the durability and robustness of the artwork in this sensitive location was paramount. Dallas-Pierce-Quintero worked with the client and Network Rail to agree a methodology for the artwork. It was agreed that a digitally-printed porcelain tiled artwork could be attached directly to the rail arch walls. Tiling will allow the work, which will be subject to traffic and dust, to be cleaned as needed by St William.

For this commission, Pica and microbiologist Joanne Santini from UCL collected samples of soil and water from the gardens and the ponds of nearby Battersea Park. The resulting artwork uncovers the mysteries that a microscope can reveal, of the multiplicity of life that exists there. A learning programme to creatively engage with local people will coincide with the artwork launch.

Sample collecting
Sample collecting
Sample collecting
Sample collecting

“While the beautiful patterns created by plant cells and unicellular organisms will appear quite abstract, I plan to take advantage of their decorative aspects while also retaining their educational value. From afar they will appear as biomorphic patterns, but when looked at closely one will be able to know exactly which organisms they depict.”

Amalia Pica
Amaila Pica

Amalia Pica was born in Neuquén Capital, Argentina and lives and works in London. Her practice is wide ranging including sculpture, drawing, photography, installation, performance and film. Her work is exhibited internationally and explores forms of communication, metaphor and social engagement.

Public collections including Tate, London; Guggenheim, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Battersea, London
St William

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