And finally… Floating sculpture made from 7,506 barrels unveiled in Hyde Park

A 20-metre-high sculpture made from 7,506 barrels has been unveiled in London’s Hyde Park.

Floating on the Serpentine Lake, The London Mastaba has been entirely funded by artist and creator Christo to realise his and late wife Jeanne-Claude’s determination to make art free.

Based on the trapezoid shapes of mastaba, an Arabic word for bench given to Egyptian tombs and seats found outside homes in ancient Mesopotamia, the temporary sculpture is the realisation of the artistic duo’s shared dream of creating a floating version of a form that has fascinated them for half a century.

The London Mastaba, which is made of 7,506 painted barrels secured to scaffolding and anchored in the lake.

Although the work has been produced in conjunction with the Serpentine Galleries summer exhibition of Christo and Jeanne Claude’s work, the artist has maintained independence from galleries, government grants or patrons.

The sculpture’s floating platform – 20 metres high by 30 metres wide by 40 metres long – is made of interlocking high-density polyethylene (HDPE) cubes, held in place with 32 6-tonne anchors. Connected to this above is a substructure for the barrels that consists of scaffolding and a steel frame. The stacked barrels themselves are standard 55 gallon ones, fabricated and painted for the sculpture in combinations of red, white, blue and mauve.

The construction of the sculpture took over two and a half months and involved a team that included JK Basel, Deep Dive Systems, Coventry Scaffolding and engineer Schlaich Bergermann Partners. Despite its exaggeratedly artificial appearance, all the construction materials used have been certified to have a low environmental impact on the ecosystem of the lake, and will be recycled in the UK following the project.

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