Rob and Nick Carter on Connaught Village’s public neon installations: “Accessibility of art is crucial during a pandemic”
The artists Rob and Nick Carter are currently showcasing two fantastic neon art installations in the heart of Connaught Village, and are available for the public to see for free. Launched on the 22nd October 2020, the pieces are at 1 & 3 Porchester Place and 12 Connaught Street. Specifically commissioned by Connaught Village is a new piece built of 11 concentric neon hearts on separate circuits which will light up and change colour throughout the day. The husband and wife artistic duo are keen to keep London bright and illuminated this winter; we spoke to the couple about their latest work, what inspired them and the importance of art during a pandemic.
Tell me about the inspiration for the pieces in Connaught Village.
Our work for the past two decades has been centred on colour, light and form. The mathematical wavelength contained in every colour is the source of inspiration for Wavelength with a spectrum of colours in iconic Rob and Nick Carter style. Our newest piece Love Connaught Village has been commissioned by Connaught Village and the Church Commissioners and was made in direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The work consists of 12 concentric neon hearts on separate circuits, changing colour throughout the day. Rainbows and love hearts have become the iconic symbols associated with these unprecedented times, spreading positivity and showing support for our inimitable NHS. The colour and light of the work are designed to brighten up the viewer’s mood and the environment throughout the winter months.
What’s the process for creating a work like this and how long does it take?
The process began with a site visit to Connaught Village and discussions about possible light installations in the disused shop fronts. We knew that neon would be the perfect medium to fit the brief because of the warm glow it would emit onto the streets. We then worked on digital mock-ups playing around with shapes and colours. Initially we looked at creating an artwork consisting of neon concentric circles with reference to the Spectrum Circles from our Light Paintings series. But as we mentioned the heart shape is synonymous with love and spreading positivity in these most challenging of times so it took that form. Working with Neon Circus the work was fabricated with in just three months to make sure it was ready by the Autumn.
How important is it for art to be accessible during a pandemic and do you think people need art more in times like these?
The accessibility of art is crucial during a pandemic. Art has the ability to unify us and can be a comfort in times of chaos. We have all had to adjust to new behaviours and with galleries and museums closing across the country, new ways of viewing artworks are or paramount importance to uplift and inspire people. We loved the challenge of working in the shopfronts for our work to be seen by the general public some of whom would not normally frequent galleries. It makes it more immediate and relevant somehow in this current climate to be out of the context of a white cube gallery. We have also been blown away by artists’ ability to adapt and their resilience, in particular friends of our working with the Artist Support Pledge on Instagram, created by artist Matthew Burrows MBE.
What’s the message for these works?
The key message for these works is positivity. We are so delighted to be able to share these artworks with our local neighbourhood. The interactive neon allows residents and passersby to create their own light show with rainbows of colours spilling onto the streets of our beloved Connaught Village. They have been very well received which has been so fulfilling. One never knows what the response will be, but we have heard from people saying the work makes them feel happy and uplifted which is exactly what we had hoped to achieve.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
Rob and Nick Carter’s installations will be on public display at Connaught Village until January 2021. For further information visit the Connaught Village website here.