Six sculptures and an all over experience


In the wonderful Pavilion Gardens, slightly to one side of the Royal Pavilion, Sky Mirror is one of the Anish Kapoor trade mark works. There are versions in New York and Nottingham. This one’s a bit smaller than either of those, but with all the fabulous architecture and lush nature acting as a framing device this piece is a good place to start a tour around all of the work. Gets you off to a good feel. To linger longer, the café in the gardens, if it’s open (9am-4pm approx, not open in wet weather) is pretty good too, the cakes are worth the effort.

Pavilion Gardens, New Rd, Brighton BN1 1HJ FREE. open 24hrs a day.


A new sculpture, or rather a series of sculptures made specifically for this great location, the disused municipal fruit and veg wholesale market. Five huge abstracted body parts are laid out, post mortem style. All of them rich, morbid, deep signature red. Anish is quoted as saying this is a new departure for him, but it could be seen as a continuation. The usual techniques and materials are there, pigment, deceptive hole, huge maroon things. It’s just a bit more grizzly than his usual sublime. Feels like Mr Kapoor letting the dogs out.

The Old Market. Circus St, Brighton BN2 9QF behind Brighton University gallery on Grand Parade. FREE. Open 12-8pm


Now this really is a whole new ball game. The complete personalised AK experience, an all over sensory Kapoor. No physical manifestation, a reading and then a massage. Imagined and suggested colour, it’s all in your head. Are these the first steps to a new Anish Kapoor methodology or is it a continuation of his involvement with dance and opera? No hard and fast rules or critique. Entrance is every half an hour. Booking beforehand is essential as there are no tickets on the door. Go there with a sandwich, stimulants and your own texts as there are sure to be queues.

The Basement, Kensington Street, Brighton BN1 4AJ Everyday during the festival 10am-6pm. Tickets £12 only from the Festival Box Office 01273-709709

The Basement is in the old Argus print works in the North Laines, amidst all the little shops. Look out for the graffiti on the walls across the street from the Basement.


Wander over, back towards the sea, past the Sky Mirror again, to Fabrica in Ship St. In this disused church turned gallery there are two earlier works by Anish Kapoor. The big metal blood bath and raised text that is his collaboration with Salman Rushdie that is the aforementioned Blood Relations (2006). And the rather more delicate work, 1000 names, (1979) which uses colourful pigments. Also in Fabrica is a collection of informative writings about all of Kapoor’s work and a crew of wised up gallery assistants, should you need help or reorientating.

Fabrica, 40 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AG 01273-778646

On the corner of Ship St and Duke St, just off North Rd, across the road from Browns café. Opening times 12-8pm everyday during the festival. FREE.


For this sculpture you’ll need to get a bus or drive, as it’s out of town. The spectacular walk is worth making the effort for in itself, particularly if it’s a bright sunny May day. The C-Curve is a different style of shiny reflective object, placed on the crest of one of the rolling hills above Brighton. For added resonance, Mr Kapoor’s sculpture has been located just above the Chattri, a bleached white shrine created to be a memorial to all the Indian soldiers who fought in the 1st world war. It really is an enchanting place of calm, repose, and picnics.

The Chattri. FREE, 24hr access.

An easy 30 minute signed walk from the Patcham roundabout at the junction of the A23 and A27. Follow the directions to Lewes until the second roundabout. There is a minor road off this roundabout, look for signs for the RSPCA or Braypool Lane. Park just after the turning, the downland path for the Chattri starts here.

Bus 5A from North St or the Old Steine, £1.80 single, £3.40 day return. Get off in Patcham, in the centre of the village walk up Church Hill until Vale Ave, follow the footpath alongside the motorway slip road. When you have crossed the bridge over the flyover to the smaller roundabout, the footpath across the downs to the Chattri is signposted from there. The Chattri website has a small map.

Narratives in the Frame

During the exhibitions Fabrica are having a series of short readings from traditional and modern texts. Selected by poet Jackie Wills and painter Jane Fordham, the readings are free, cosy and set in and around the sculptures.  Jackie has a blog that gives good insight into her writing, and the AK installations. 
For more detailed information on the remaining  readings

Blood Relations ~ The Movie.

Anish Kapoor
Video sent by tifrap

A film is as faithful to a sculpture as a tee-shirt is to a movie.
Much of Anish Kapoors work has, at its foundation, the premise that sculptures can only be known through the fact of being in their presence, and that everything that is not the sculpture itself, is merely anecdotal interpretation. Visit a sculpture and you know the sculpture's affects on you – but if you read about the same sculpture, you only know someone else’s opinion, which is seldom sculpture.

So I have put this video here, partly to illustrate the rather laboured point above, but also because the text, as a form, deserves to be made accountable to those who might want to study it, deconstruct it, or maybe just couldn’t make the five widdershins that it takes to read it all, without getting dizzy (only happens in glorious 3D reality - yep, its a sculpture).

Sky Mirror

Some images of the Pavilion gardens installation.

Scale & Content

Pavilion Gardens is where the population of Brighton go when our beaches and shopping areas are full of visitors, it is the nearest thing to a real community centre that the people of Brighton possess. Sky Mirror, in effect, had moved into our living room.

Once the Herris fencing was removed, the joint forces of entropy and opinion went to work. In a few short hours the diversity of life in Brighton had reacted in one way or another. Children and clowns saw something to climb over, the intellectuals something to discuss, the Daily Mail readers flexed their best lay critique, and a busker playing a sitar added, I think unknowingly, some serious context.
If there is one thing that Brighton’s living room isn’t short of it is art. Soon enough the celebrity art was the subject of a small, independent, derivative work.
'Empyrean Speculum' mirrored (pun intended), many aspects of the Sky Mirror and its contexts, questioning scale and intent by a simple substitution of values. Like much good art, it amused some, and annoyed others.

Jonathan Gilhooly's performance achieved something that is rare in my experience. It actively raised the issue of the cost of the work, diffusing the ubiquitous, “waste of money” complaints by spreading word that the Anish Kapoor sculptures have all been loaned to the City free.

Micheal O'Connell, security guard for the occasion, has contributed an interesting essay on the event for AN online

See Curve

C- curve is a game of significances, it is literally a trick done with mirrors, that inverts the world in more than one sense.
If you think about it, this object, just one of many in AK’s body of work, contains the entirety of his subject matter, much like the way a fragment of a fractal, portrays the whole.

The nothing in everything ~ everything in nothing

To begin with, the one thing you never see is the sculpture itself; instead you are distracted almost immediately by the rest of the world reflected in it.

Being given the rare opportunity to see the world in a new and particular way is completely beguiling; you forget the sculpture and your pre-conceptions almost at once, and find yourself playing with the thing, or rather this world mediated by the thing.
You twist, you turn, making new sightlines, aligning distorted horizons, wishing you had a better camera, or that the sun would set, or the crowd would move, or you could fly, or….
And there you are, by a trick of mirrors you have become divided.

While your intellect is off gambolling across the downs, thinking it looks like this, or it reminds you of that; the rest of you, the bits that respond to the sub-intellectual, entirely experiential fact of sharing a space with an object, is getting the full effect of this thing.

For once allowing yourself to let a sculpture have its way with you, not worrying about what it means, just a simple experiential pleasure, in a strange way confirms your physical existence without reference to your intellect.
It is deeply enjoyable, especially if you can lose all thoughts of its being in anyway important.

Much has been said about Anish Kapoor’s pre-occupation with the contrasts between simple objects, complex meanings and our compulsion to seek complex answers, where questions may not even exist (the nothingness in everything).
This bit of shiny bent metal epitomises the same contradiction; thanks to all the clutter of reflected stuff, you can only comprehend it as an actual form intuitively or conceptually.

The simplicity of its form is elegant, beautiful even, but the engaging mass of its reflected context is overwhelming.

Imagine seeing the C-Curve sprayed white, or with a course powder pigment, the textural inverse of a mirrored surface.

The sculpture neatly illustrates how easy it is to confuse our points of reference. Describing the world seen through the sculpture is like describing the subject of a photo as though it was a real view, not the object it really is: a flat piece of paper.
To consider a sheep via C-Curve is essentially irrelevant to the object, even though it may be an interesting by-product. There is a parallel here with Anish Kapoor’s theme of ‘fictions’, or the factoids we obscure the actual immediate experience of all his sculptures with.
Jeanne d’Arc and all that she brings with her may well just be a reflected sheep.

Anish Kapoor often plays with the ambiguous relationship between object and subject, ones-self and the external. How much of what we know is directly from within ourselves, or is from some external ‘authority’. How little we differentiate between first hand knowing and collective knowledge. How myth is socially agreed yet has intimate relevance. How the portrayal of an anatomical part can at once represent ourselves, someone else, mankind in its entirety, or simply be a misunderstood lump of red polystyrene.

You are the sculpture ~ the sculpture is you

The new vision of the rest of the world that you get reflected in C-Curve seems fascinating at first: you move, everything changes.

Before too long your attention shifts from the static landscape to the more active reflections that other people make, random groupings, somersaults, strange magnifications of body parts, lone figures far away, even sheep licking their own reflections.

Then of course there is you yourself, the one thing that you can easily choreograph, the one that you know from other mirrors, your familiar standard figure for mirror viewing and your primary tool for manipulating the screen before you.
The whole of your perception of C-Curve is entirely dependant on you; your perspective and your unique location in space; even though it may be a shared experience, it is intensely personal (yet another feature of the sculptural).

You soon find that you are using the sculpture to interrogate yourself, both visually and intellectually, that the sculpture is for you, about you and the particulars of your position. No-one else sees what you see, no one else sees the same sculpture – or the same world, yourself included.

I find it revealing that photographers get very excited about this sculpture. It has to be said that it is a gloriously photogenic phenomenon, borne out by the increasing numbers of delightful images posted on flickr etc.
In these photographs the sculpture itself has become relegated to a bit of photographic kit, a fabulous lens, it is as absent from the photographs as the camera itself.

Compare both experiences; looking at photographs, or being in front of C-Curve.
The sculptural exists somewhere in the difference.

Anish Kapoor's work describes both the most basic sculptural experience and the most complex of reflected associations, and how these two aspects of a single object at once contradict and depend upon each other.

Jeanne D

The Dismemberment of Jeanne D’Arc was created specifically for this years Brighton Festival. It is the most recent new work of Anish Kapoor and prior to its opening last Saturday had not been seen before. That it is such a fresh piece of work also means that it has not had time for the multiple layers of interpretation or ‘fiction’ (to use AK’s phrase) to stick to it. It presents us with an unusual opportunity; to approach an Anish Kapoor work without too much intellectual clutter getting in the way.
The moment I wrote that, I realised that I was beginning the process, if you hate spoilers, best stop reading now.

This work is genuinely site-specific. Not only in that it was made for, and relates to the old municipal fruit and veg market, but also that the place appears to have informed the work. Anish Kapoor, like a lot of artists is often ready to claim site-specificity simply on the basis that something happens to be made to fit a place, like distinguishing a fitted kitchen from self contained units. While all art is necessarily site-specific in a gallery, anywhere else it must either engage with the sites contexts or deliberately ignore the location, not everywhere needs a kitchen. The Dismemeberment of Jeanne D'Arc and its site resonate spatially and contextually, they exchange atmospheres and enhance how each other are read.

As always with Anish Kapoor’s work there are two ways of going about a description, one is to deal with the fact of the work, the other is to engage with the imagined meanings and references that will, no doubt, end up representing it when it is gone.

The site is a fairly extensive covered market that has been derelict long enough to develop a vaguely haunted atmosphere, it puts you in mind of the bustle that once occurred here, and although the site has been considerably neatened for this show, there is evidence of its previous occupants, dossers and minor demolition. The Sculpture extends into the space, achieving the sort of monumentality that might accompany the laying of a pipeline. Two long masses, known affectionately by some as twiglets, as high as a hedgerow these block sightlines for half the space. A central excavation and two mounds, comprised of the exact amount of stuff from the hole amassed around columns, complete the intervention. Everything Kapoor in the hall is red, which helps the uninitiated identify the work. The excavated hole, the polystyrene twiglets and the rubble mounds, are all granular, course textured and as evenly sprayed with redness as rather hurried graffiti.

It can take a while to identify the arrangement as representing bits of a woman’s body (that is assuming they do), if you haven’t seen the visuals. A group of year 10 students seemed to cotton on to the fact that they were looking into a huge vagina, with varying degrees of belief in about 10 to 20 minutes. But this is getting into the realms of ‘interpretation’ and that is for the next post.