Next summer the British-South Asian artist Shezad Dawood will unveil his largest sculpture to date in London’s St Pancras station for Terrace Wires, one of the UK's most significant public art commissions.
Full details of the work are yet to be disclosed, but Dawood says that it will be a 5m-wide sculpture in a “psychedelic colour scheme” that will evoke the Gothic Revival architecture of the 19th-century station as well as the aesthetics of steampunk fiction. Its proposed title, HMS Alice Liddell, refers to a friend of the writer Lewis Carroll who it is thought gave her name to the title character in Alice in Wonderland.
Recalling the station’s architecture also allows Dawood to pay homage to his own childhood: the artist grew up a short distance from the station, the spiralling turrets of the adjoining hotel designed by George Gilbert Scott having “loomed large” in his young imagination. Much of Dawood's work today deals with architectural sites, most notably his longstanding research into South Asian Modernist architecture.
Meanwhile the rainbow colour scheme, Dawood says, will call to mind “pride, plurality, and visibility” to subvert the imperial and patriarchal associations of the era in which Gothic Revivalist architecture was popular. Dawood's commission will also include an augmented reality function that will be accessible via mobile devices and will pertain to the work's steampunk elements, he says.
The last Terrace Wires commission was Tracey Emin‘s 2018 neon work that spells out the phrase “I want my time with you”. Emin's was the seventh commission, and followed works by artists including Conrad Shawcross and Cornelia Parker.