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The Box, Plymouth announces new public art commission by Camille Walala
Camille Walala's 'Putting Things In Perspective' outside The Box in Plymouth. Photo: Dom Moore.

PLYMOUTH.- Plymouth’s highly acclaimed new museum, art gallery and archive announced a new public art commission by internationally renowned artist Camille Walala. The commission, which is curated by Alter-Projects, is a major highlight of The Box’s summer 2021 programme. It forms part of a series of events and activations designed to bring its newly created public square, Tavistock Place to life for the very first time.

On display from 15 July until 5 September, ‘Putting Things In Perspective’, Camille Walala’s new temporary installation outside The Box plays with plane and perspective, existing somewhere between 2D and 3D in the manner of a trompe-l’œil. This free-standing sculptural work measures approximately 6m long by 2.5m wide and 2m high.

The commission forms part of The Box’s inaugural ‘Making It’ exhibition which explores the labour-intensive process of creating new works of art from raw materials and also references Plymouth and the South West’s long history of making and craftsmanship. The work will be fabricated in London and hand painted in Walala’s Shoreditch studio with long standing collaborator and technician Simon Sawyer, before being transported to and assembled in Plymouth.

Made from marine plywood, the piece is an energetic dance of contrasting forms, vivid colours, soft lines and organic patterns. The sculpture’s 20th-century references range from the cubist paintings of Fernand Léger, whose boldly simplified treatment of modern subjects has caused him to be regarded as a forerunner of Pop, to the monumental sculptures of Roy Lichtenstein, notable for his use of bold strong black lines and 3D patterns. In Walala’s hand-rendered black-and-white patterns there are traces of the allusive and figurative architecture and impulsive lines of Jean Dubuffet’s L’Hourloupe.

Devised through a process of collage – adding and taking away shapes until the perfect balance is reached – ‘Putting Things In Perspective’ represents an evolution in Walala’s thinking and approach. The signature symmetries and geometrics of her past work have acquired a softer edge and a more nuanced colour palette while continuing her long-standing concern with colour and public space.

Judith Robinson, Arts Programmes Manager at The Box said, “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Alter-Projects and Camille Walala on this exciting addition to ‘Making It’ and our summer programme. Postponing our launch from May to September 2020 due to COVID-19 meant we missed the opportunity to create a programme for Tavistock Place last year, so we really want to make the most of 2021. Camille’s bold and distinctive style will have real impact in the space and will provide visitors to The Box and everyone who passes through the square with a striking and uplifting work of art to engage with and enjoy.”

Artist Camille Walala said: “Being commissioned for The Box to create a public artwork was an incredible opportunity to push my work in a new direction. After the intensity of the last year, I find myself more attracted to softer lines, drawn by hand. I want them to be slightly imperfect. This year has been a good lesson of letting go. In the last few months I have really enjoyed spending time painting and experimenting with colours. Taking the time to find the right tone of each colour was really joyful and satisfying.”

Anne-Laure Pingreoun, founder of Alter-Projects said: “I’m thrilled to be working with The Box on this project as Plymouth hold a very special place in my heart, having lived there when I was a student I had a clear sense of what I wanted to bring to it, and how I wanted to mark its artistic community. With that in mind, I knew Walala Studio was the perfect collaborator. Her use of colour and general style of work will bring great joy and playfulness to the area at a time when many of us are still struggling with the emotional aftermath of a year spent in isolation.”

Known for her ambitious, large-scale and explosively colourful interventions in public spaces, Camille Walala uses the man-made landscape as a platform for disseminating positivity.

Her work encompasses full-facade murals, immersive 3D installations, street art, interiors and set design – characterised by a fusion of bold colours and playful geometric patterns.

Since her ‘Dream Come True Building’ burst onto the Shoreditch streetscape in 2015 and thrust her into the spotlight, Camille and her creative producer, Julia Jomaa, have been engaged in an increasingly bold roster of international projects. These have included collaborations with leading global brands – such as LEGO, for whom she created the HOUSE OF DOTS; the creative direction of the ground-breaking Mauritian hotel SALT of Palmar; and a slew of major installations for events such as NYC’s WantedDesign and London Design Festival – including Walala Lounge, as complete suite of semi-permanent street furniture that transformed South Molton Street, Mayfair, into a corridor of colour. Camille finds inspiration in community and collaboration, and the power or colour and pattern to transform atmospheres, elevate moods and spark positivity.

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