Chris Dorley-Brown / John Frankland 


Launched on 14 August 2008

BOULDER is a dual-site permanent public realm project for two Hackney parks.

Two Hackney green spaces have become permanent homes to two massive pieces of solid granite, each weighing up to 100 tonnes and measuring over four metres high. Boulder (Shoreditch Park) and Boulder (Mabley Green) together form Boulder, an ambitious public realm sculpture project by John Frankland. The launch of this work marks the completion of the second phase of the regeneration of Shoreditch Park and will be a focal point for this year’s Shoreditch Festival.

Jutting out from the urban park landscape, these two rugged monoliths will appear as if they had just landed, but their arrival at their respective park settings has involved a highly co-ordinated taskforce of engineers, designers, planners, risk assessors and project managers.

John Frankland is known for his large-scale and pared-down sculptural installations where the materials used and the architectural or physical space that the work inhabits is carefully integrated, and where considerations around weight and weightlessness are often explored. Boulder continues these preoccupations, yet the physical mass of these rocks belies their essential modesty as sculptural works in parkland settings. His use of granite is a conscious reference to the traditional material for statuary or monuments as favoured by the sculptor or stonemason. But Frankland has elected to leave the rocks as they were found in the quarry, bearing the scars of their manufacture by the explosion that blasted them from the rock face. Frankland’s boulders owe more of a debt to the Duchampian Readymade or the Neolithic standing stone, than to the types of sculpture and statuary that are more commonly experienced within civic parks.

In addition to their presence in the Hackney urban landscape as subtle yet iconic landmark works, Frankland intends that people should engage with the boulders in a direct and physical way through rock climbing, or ‘bouldering’. A keen and expereinced climber himself, Frankland considers physical contact with the rock as a way of energising or activating the work, as well as a way of playfully debunking the notion of those sculptures in park settings, which are often fenced off or prominently labelled as ‘not to be touched’. During the Shoreditch Festival, from August 16th and 24th, climbing competitions and taster sessions have been organised. Afterwards, these sessions will be followed by free climbing classes for local young people into the autumn.

Photographer and filmmaker Chris Dorley-Brown worked with John Frankland to record the epic feat of lifting, transporting and installing the boulders in London. This film also captures the reactions and views of the communities where the boulders will be placed, and how their double function as objects to be climbed has been taken up by both amateur and experienced climbers.  The film was shown at Peer’s gallery on Hoxton Street from Wednesday 3rd September to 11 October 2008.

John Frankland's 'Boulder' is the fourth in a series of public relam projects commissioned and presented in partnership with the Shoreditch Trust, the award-winning regeneration agency. It follows on from Bob and Roberta Smith's SHOP LOCAL project in 2006, the launch of Tania Kovats' Museum of the White Horse in 2007, and Yuko Shiraishi's commission, Canal Wall, for the Regent's Canal near the Kingsland Basin earlier this spring.

BOULDER film by Chris Dorley-Brown

Map of the two Boulders: Interactive route between Shoreditch Trust and Mabley Green
'BOULDER' film: Watch the film by Chris Dorley-Brown on YouTube
Shoreditch Bouldering Blog: Bouldering blog by local climbing enthusiast, Ian Mulvany

John Frankland is represented by:
Matt's Gallery, London

This project has been generously supported by:
This project has received a generous grant from the Deutsche Bank's Art and Regeneration Scheme, and further support from Hackney Council's REAP (Recreation and Environment Action Plan), as well as from Hackney 2012. We are also extremely grateful for sponsorship-in-kind from Aram Resources Ltd at Carnsew Quarry in Cornwall. The film by Chris Dorley-Brown is supported by Arts Council England.

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