The Shard – London Bridge, London, UK
Commissioned by: The Shard, UK 2017
Curated by: Futurecity, UK / Galerie Lelong & Co., Paris
The making of 'We' – Futurecity / The Shard
WE comprises two parts - one installed in The Shard’s piazza, one suspended above the escalator outside the building - facing each other as if in dialogue. The Shard’s owners commissioned the piece, curated by Futurecity, to be experienced by those visiting, living and working in Shard Quarter, connecting the two areas of the development’s public realm.
WE represents diversity, with letters and characters from 7 different alphabets featured on both sculptures, each representing the universality of being human. WE is a conversation between the Shard and the new piazza. And in a departure from the artist’s practice, one piece of WE is tethered to the architecture. You might say the Shard now has a human face.
The second piece of WE is sited in the new Shard Quarter piazza, a busy, energetic place connecting London Bridge Station, to the new Guys & St Thomas’s Research Centre, the Science Gallery and the historic area around Bermondsey Street. Here we are invited to step inside a poetic shelter in human form, a space in which to contemplate and dream. Language has been used as a metaphor for society and community, with the text and hollow structure providing framed views of the surrounding environment.
The sculptural installation is the first in London created by Jaume Plensa that people can see and interact with in a public space; the home city of one of his artistic inspirations, William Blake. For this particular work, a quote from Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell perfectly encapsulates his inspiration for the new piece; “one thought fills immensity”. A sentiment that is reflected in WE, a piece that fills the large public space with energy.
The piece is designed to give members of the public a chance to frame their individual perspectives, as they walk through Shard Quarter, taking in one figure, followed by the other. By establishing a link between the two, they will be inspired to consider the notion of self, alongside the people around them.
Futurecity, September 29, 2021