A looming 4.3m-tall sculpture making “homelessness impossible to ignore” has been unveiled outside London’s King's Cross station. Commissioned by the homelessness charity Crisis, the work depicts a person in winter clothing camped outside the station, a scene likely familiar to the thousands of commuters using the station every day.
The sculpture was created by the artist and prosthetic expert Sophie de Oliveira Barata and the artist Helen Lansdown (in collaboration with the creative agency Creative Giants and design company Millimetre). Called Alex, it was made using face-mapping technology and the profiles of 17 people facing homelessness “who have been supported by Crisis,” the charity says in a statement. The resulting figure is life-like, ethnically ambiguous and androgynous. The composite modelling approach was used to create a work representing the universality of the crisis and free the art from "biases of what homelessness looks like," Ben Kearns, design director of Creative Giants, tells The Art Newspaper.
Alex will spend two days outside the station before being moved to Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, to sit outside the Bullring—one of Europe’s largest shopping centres.
New research spearheaded by Heriot-Watt University finds that 300,000 households in the UK may be facing homelessness next year if the government doesn’t intervene. “Crisis is urging the Government to wake up to the seriousness of the situation and take action to increase housing benefit so that it covers the true cost of rents,” a statement says. Alex is surrounded by QR codes, directing visitors to the website and opportunities to donate.
The sculpture was unveiled by The Crown actors, Imelda Staunton and Jonathan Pryce, ambassadors of the charity.