Part sculpture, part architectural installation, all play. The Brutalist Playground is a new commission by Turner Prize nominees Assemble and artist Simon Terrill.
The Brutalist Playground explores the abstract concrete playgrounds that were designed as part of post-war housing estates in the mid-twentieth century. Post-war playgrounds were often made from concrete, cast into sculptural forms, which presented a distinct move away from previous playground design. They were envisaged as a key aspect of the estate layout and design and as such reflect prevailing and social theories and concerns at that time. The original installation drew from a number of London estates: Churchill Gardens, Pimlico; the Brunel Estate, Paddington and the Brownfield Estate, Poplar.
In 2016 it toured to Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen and also S1 Artspace, Sheffield where new elements were added to the originally commissioned works at each venue, drawing from Seamount Court in Aberdeen and the Park Hill Estate in Sheffield respectively.
Assemble and Simon Terrill used photographs and archival material in the RIBA’s Collections, to recreate play structures cladded in reconstituted foam, creating an interactive playground where the viewer becomes participant and in this way completes the work while offering a renewed understanding and critique of the architects’ original designs and intentions. Archive images of the original playgrounds are projected on the walls.
The Brutalist Playground toured to the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany from 14 January to 30 April 2017.
Assemble are a collective based in London who work across the fields of art, architecture and design. They began working together in 2010 and are comprised of 18 members. Assemble’s working practice seeks to address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made. Assemble champion a working practice that is interdependent and collaborative, seeking to actively involve the public as both participant and collaborator in the on-going realisation of the work.
Simon Terrill is an Australian artist based in London. He works with photography, sculpture, video and installation. Following a BA in Sculpture and MA in Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts Melbourne, he lectured in Critical and Historical Studies (2005-08) and the Centre for Ideas (2003-08), both at the VCA. In 2008 Terrill was awarded the prestigious Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship. Recent exhibitions include; Nouns of Assembly, Sutton Gallery Melbourne 2016, South of the River: Crowd Theory, National Portrait Gallery London 2016; The Brutalist Playground, a collaboration with Assemble, Royal Institute of British Architects public gallery June – August 2015. He currently lectures in the history and theory of photography at London Southbank University. In 2012 the Melbourne based publisher M.33 produced a monograph of his work titled Proscenium.