Tempest in a Tea Room
British sculptor Conrad Shawcross is about to shake up High Tea at The Peninsula. He talks to Chloe Street about his remarkable robotic creation
ou meet strange men with vans in service station car parks, exchange a wad of cash for the goods and they drive off… It’s all very Blade Runner,” explains Conrad Shawcross not of any criminal activity, but the somewhat insalubrious market for second-hand robots. The British sculptor, a graduate of London’s prestigious Slade School of Fine Art and Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art, and the son of celebrated writers Marina Warner and William Shawcross, is not the sort one pictures cutting deals with the drivers of white vans on the M25. But The Ada Project, his installation at The Peninsula Hong Kong this month, required some niche hardware.
Shawcross’s large kinetic robot sculpture is part of the Love Art at The Peninsula programme, an annual collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts to coincide with Art Basel in Hong Kong. Last year, Royal Academician Richard Wilson’s Hang On a Minute Lads… I’ve got a Great Idea, a full-scale replica of the coach from the 1969 heist film The Italian Job, precariously balanced on the parapet of the hotel’s seventh-floor terrace. In 2014, a moving animation of Tracey Emin’s My Heart is with You Always was projected onto the hotel’s high-rise tower.
“I visited the hotel foyer and asked myself what would be arresting here,” says Shawcross, the youngest member of the Royal Academy, whose vast geometric sculpture The Dappled Light of the Sun formed a canopy of
Conrad Shawcross with his kinetic sculpture The Ada Project, which takes up residence at The Peninsula this month