Some of you may recall that, on January 15 this year Circling the Square, a public art by Kate Davis and David Moore (ME-WE), was installed on the newly developed, pedestrianised space in Berkeley Square, on the corner with Davies Street.
Since we celebrated the launch of this work - commissioned by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland - all our lives have been changed by the Covid-19 virus pandemic.
From the start of their project, Kate and David have placed public participation and engagement at the heart of the conception of the work and its time on-site in the Square. Sadly, because of the current lockdown, the work cannot be visited and experienced live and the planned changeover of imagery cannot yet take place. However, in the meantime the artists have put together new photographic images and words, which they intended to install on the work at the point of changeover. The new images and texts were re-imagined to reflect the very much changed situation we all find ourselves in but also to continue to engage with the specific location of Berkeley Square, its people and histories. As this is no longer able to take place yet, they would very much like to share them with you.
The project page: http://www.modusoperandi-art.com/projects/berkeley_square
We would also like to use this opportunity to thank you for your support of the Berkeley Square Public Art Programme and to send you, your family and those close to you, our very best wishes at this difficult and worrying time.
Please stay safe and well.
This collage is inspired by The Blue Stockings Society and the artworks of one of its earliest members, Mary Delany (1700-1788). The Blue Stockings Society was an English 18th century informal women’s social and educational movement. Delany’s pioneering and inspirational floral mosaics are made up of hundreds of pieces of cut paper and were the precursor to the collage art form – a technique employed to make this image.
Mary Delany was a close friend to the Baroque composer George Frideric Handel. He lived and composed for 36 years in Mayfair at 25 Brook Street. Two hundred years later Jimi Hendrix moved next door into number 23 where the museum Handel & Hendrix in London is now located.
Artists: Kate Davis & David Moore Circling the Square, 2020
Grosvenor and Modus Operandi are pleased to present a new public artwork, Circling the Square, by Kate Davis and David Moore, for Nightingale’s Corner, Berkeley Square, Mayfair. It marks the launch of a three-year programme of temporary art commissions for a new area of public realm to the north side of the square. In place until the end of May 2020, Circling the Square will be followed by a twice-yearly series of site-inspired art installations that take their inspiration from aspects of the locality, its communities, architecture and institutions. The name of the site, known as ‘Nightingale’s Corner’, springs from the popular song ‘A Nightingale for Berkeley Square’, sung by Vera Lynn in the 1940s.
Circling the Square The sculpture installation forms a place to meet and sit within a new expanse of public realm. Research into the area and dialogue between the artists and community representatives have inspired the form and visual imagery of the sculpture. Seen from a distance the work appears like a new kind of street information system, but on closer inspection elegant concrete benches installed on either side of a schematic Georgian window offer places to sit – and where ‘selfies’ are encouraged. Two silhouetted nightingale weather vanes perch atop the window frame. Painted a light bronze, the sculpture’s framework relates tonally to the metalwork of the surrounding architecture and the bark of the ancient plane trees in the square. The flanking panels of the sculpture bear richly coloured imagery, text information and an ‘acrostic’ poem inspired by some of the unique qualities of Mayfair.
Kate Davis comments:
‘Our aim was threefold, to create
A glamourous rendezvous, a recognisable location in Nightingale’s Corner for people to meet.
A breathing space to rest, chat and see the Square and Mayfair in a new light and to anticipate what is coming next.
A photo opportunity, everyone can have their picture taken looking out onto the square as though they were residents.
The window panel gives the passer-by a place from which to view the square, maybe really seeing it for the first time, as if they are inside a house on Berkeley Square looking out either onto the extraordinary plane trees or towards the corner of Mount Street, one of the original shopping streets in Mayfair. Circling the Square provides a photo location whilst remaining elegant and in character with the square. The photographs taken can be uploaded onto an Instagram account giving it a social media presence and making it a place to visit and have your image recorded in a contemporary web-based setting.’
Modus Operandi and Public Art in Westminster:
Circling the Square by Kate Davis and David Moore is one of many public art commissions in Westminster curated by Modus Operandi, including permanent artworks World by Mark Pimlott and Breathing by Jaume Plensa for BBC Broadcasting House, So Our Rivers Flow by Keith Tyson for One Burlington Place, Vital Signs by Spencer Finch for Quadrant 3, Piccadilly Circus, Timelines by Daniela Schoenbaechler for Wilder Walk and Three Views by Jacqueline Poncelet for The Marq, Duke Street St James’s, for The Crown Estate. Temporary commissions include Rock on Top of Another Rock by Fischli/Weiss for Kensington Gardens, with the Serpentine Gallery.
Kate Davis & David Moore are artists who live and work in London & Edinburgh. Davis is a senior tutor at the Royal College of Art, London and Moore is head of programme at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. As well as distinguished individual careers they have been working collaboratively since 2010 undertaking artist residencies and permanent public commissions. Recent works can be seen at the Dockland Light Railway station, Langdon Park, and at Riverlight Nine Elms, London.
‘As two sculptors who have chosen to work together on public projects such as this our aim is to take the integrity of our studio practice out into public spaces with a sensitivity to the people and the places that become our new audiences. Working under the banner ME/WE, we take an approach that holds onto the values of individual creative expression (ME) whilst seeking to communicate with the communities we are engaged with, working with a collaborative ethos (WE).’
Kate Davis & David Moore
This collage is inspired by Berkeley Square and the famous song A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, a wartime favourite sung by Vera Lynn. The song conjures a romantic nostalgia for a London at a time when true lovers could meet in Mayfair to hear the songbird sing.
The tune, with its soothing and lyrical undulations and its sentiments, has struck an emotional chord with young and old alike for almost 70 years. Twiggy sang a version in an episode of The Nanny and the tune is a recurring theme in Fritz Lang’s film Man Hunt (1941) - even Rod Stewart recorded a version in 2004.
The acrostic poem A Nightingale in Mayfair, 2019 is by Mark Ward. Georgian poet, artist and visionary William Blake used an acrostic letter-string in his iconic Acrostic poems carry a hidden message or text within them and early examples were found at Pompeii. The poem London, from the collection Songs of Innocence and Experience written in 1794. Blake lived nearby at 17 South Molton Street in 1803.
This portrait of Kate Davis taken by David Moore was part of the artists’ inspiration for Circling the Square. The sculpture is an invitation to sit, relax and take in the glorious architectural and landscaped surroundings of Nightingale Corner, to see and experience anew an area that has for some time disregarded the view of the pedestrian.
If you feel inspired please post your selfies up on social media #selfieseatmayfair.
Kate Davis & David Moore would like to thank The Residents Society of Mayfair and St James, Mayfair Neighbourhood Forum Planning Committee, the University Women’s Club and everyone who has assisted and welcomed them in developing this artwork for Mayfair.
Commissioned by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, curated by Modus Operandi, fabricated by The White Wall Company.
We are looking for acrostic poems written by you and take their inspiration from Mayfair: its locality, its communities, architecture, institutions or its rich history.
Visit the sculpture at Nightingale’s Corner and get inspired by the first acrostic poem for the site written by Mark Ward.
All the poems received will be shared here on this website for each other to enjoy and contemplate.
One or more poems will then be selected to be part of the next set of printed collages that will be installed on the sculpture Circling The Square 2020 in March 2020.
Please send your poems to Kate Davis : firstname.lastname@example.org
‘Circling the Square is a photo opportunity. Everyone can now have their picture taken looking out onto Berkeley square as though they were residents.’
Visit the sculpture at Nightingale’s Corner, sit down, relax, and take in the views.
Then post your selfies on social media #selfieseatmayfair
A selection of the selfies will be part of the next set of printed collages that will be installed on the sculpture Circling The Square 2020 in March 2020.
Kate Davis & David Moore