Tower Bridge is generally considered a permanent feature. Made of stone, steel and concrete, it’s stayed standing for over a hundred years. But Alex Evans, the landmarks first ever artist in residence has subverted this idea.
In a new exhibition, the bridge is shown as a constantly changing piece of architecture, which takes on different shapes, geometries and proportions all the time. Evans sees it as a living, breathing entity which adapts according to the time of day, year or who is looking at it.
The works on display bring together drawings with techniques like printmaking and laser etching. There are some beautiful patterns imposed onto a reflective gold surface. Some of the pieces simply repeat an architectural detail to form a pattern, taking tiny details of the huge, imposing structure and casting them as works of art in their own right, within its South Tower.
A piece called Adrift shows one of the towers emerging from a veil of smog. It’s a lot like an image from the anime film Howl’s Moving Castle. The fantastical is a theme which runs throughout the artist’s work. In another image, one of the towers has been rotated like a Rubik’s Cube. The effect is achieved through photography, so it looks all the more realistic. Evans has also used photos of the relentless stream of cars and pedestrians crossing the bridge as a way of illustrating a state of perpetual change.
Alex Evans collaborated with Boutcher Primary School in Southwark for another part of the exhibition, which is on the West Walkway. Through a series of workshops, the children have merged drawing, collage and photography to produce kaleidoscope-like visions of a brand new bridge. It’s as if the collective imagination of the artist and the children has seeped through into reality.
As an iconic building, recognised the world over as a symbol of London, Tower Bridge is geared towards tourists. There is however an exciting initiative to turn it into a cultural venue.
The exhibition splices people’s subjective experience of the bridge with the stillness of the actual structure. It feels like the cat is out the bag and Tower Bridge will never be the same again. Evans is a master at taking the physical world, breaking it down into its component parts, and then reassembling it as art.