Barbican Arts Centre – temporary installation of a fabric woven artwork

The Barbican Arts Centre has applied for approval for the “Temporary installation of a fabric woven artwork for a temporary period between February 2024 and August 2024, titled: ‘Purple Hibiscus’ by Ibrahim Mahama”. The planning reference number is 23/01195/LBC and the associated documentation can be viewed here.

In essence, the proposal comprises an artwork made of fabric attached to the Barbican Centre Lakeside façade and would be in place for the period 7 February to 26 May 2024 to coincide with the forthcoming Barbican Gallery exhibition Unravel; The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art. The installation of the artwork is planned for 22 January to 9 February and the de-installation for 27 May to 7 June 2024. The installation is to sit between 3-4m above the ground and will be held in place through tension lines and kentledge weights. The proposal can be viewed on Page 10 of the Design & Access statement Vol 1.

How will it be installed?…and how safe will it be?

Some concerns will inevitably arise given that it is proposed to install this “artwork” on a Grade II listed building in the middle of a residential estate. It appears that much detailed and careful planning has gone into this proposal as can be seen in the Structural Engineering Report which details all of the possible issues concerning noise, fire safety, possible damage to building etc.

A few extracts from this report provide a flavour:

  • The Fabric is made up of a coloured cotton material that has been weaved in Ghana. The strips of material will be stitched together to the cutting panels and then stitched to the nylon mesh that will be acting as the tensile support to the fabric and will be attached to the steel frame and wire ropes
  • Supporting Structure: The supporting is proposed to be made of made of either steel or aluminium frame……To avoid any damage to the structure, the supporting structure will not be physically fixed to the existing structure.
  • Fire Protection Fabric to be protected with fire retardant to comply with Class B S3 D2. Or similar approved. Fabric will be set at least 4.0m above terrace level to prevent accidental ignition by the public
  • Noise consideration from wind – The installation is a taut cotton fabric, with low permeability to air. It will be stretched and stitched onto the nylon mesh backing across the building and between trusses and strand stays. The proposed strategy will give comfort that the risk of wind induced noise is low…….

Please look through the documents provided and make any representations you feel are appropriate here

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *