Project announcement: designjunction presents Head Above Water by Steuart Padwick

Head Above Water by Steuart Padwick, Riverside Walkway, Queen’s Stone jetty (aka Gabriel’s pier)

As part of the annual London Design Festival, designjunction (20 – 23 September), now in its eighth year and located in the cultural hub of London’s South Bank, will present a number of thought provoking outdoor installations on the Riverside Walkway including Head Above Water by Steuart Padwick.

British designer Steuart Padwick will make a dramatic change to the London skyline during designjunction in support of mental health with his project Head Above Water. With its panoramic views of St Paul Cathedral and the iconic city skyline, Head Above Water is a 9 metre high sculpture on Queen’s Stone jetty (aka Gabriel’s pier) on London’s South Bank.

The ‘Head’ is deliberately gender, ethnicity and age neutral and stands as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion, positivity and change, for those who have come through or are still confronting mental health issues, and the people who support them.

Steuart Padwick first sculpted a head in clay and then developed the concept into its current form using precision engineered, renewable and sustainable cross-laminated timber panels, provided by Store Enzo. To realise the structure Steuart Padwick worked with structural engineering expertise, Ramboll. It is a model of sustainable, smart design and build.

Sir Kenneth Grange, British Industrial Designer comments, ‘At last one of the major issues of our times, so often swept under the carpet, gets to be shouted from the rooftops and that cheers me greatly.’

‘Head Above Water is a fine emblem of what we all hope for: a healthy, creative, compassionate mind’, comments Kevin McCloud, Designer, TV Presenter and supporter of Head Above Water.

Also in support of Head Above Water, Helen Pheby, Senior Curator Yorkshire Sculpture Park comments, ‘Head Above Water by Steuart Padwick is a highly engaging work that prompts vital thinking around mental health.’

Head Above Water by Steuart Padwick, Riverside Walkway

At night the Head Above Water will be lit, and people will be able to engage with its changing colours to reflect how they are feeling through a designated Twitter feed – in real time. Dr Sally Marlow Phd, Engagement and Impact Fellow, The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (loPPN) at King’s College London has advised on the changing colours based on the research, study and practice of psychiatry, psychology and related disciplines by the loPPN team. Consulting engineers and lighting design specialists Hoare Lea are the masterminds behind the lighting scheme.

“An extraordinary piece of public art, Head Above Water’s powerful use of colour reminds us that mental health comes in many guises, and can be a story of hope, not despair.” Dr Sally Marlow.

The piece of public art will be supporting the mental health campaign Time to Change, (run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness) who will use this dynamic platform to engage and stimulate the discussion to eradicate mental health-related stigma and discrimination.

Visitors will be encouraged to support the initiative by donating to Time to Change here. 

Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change said: “Located on the bustling South Bank, Head Above Water will be seen by millions, prompting contemplation and encouraging conversations about mental health. Sadly, the topic of mental health problems is often confined to hushed conversations in quiet corners so we’re excited to support this project which proudly brings it into the light.”


Head Above Water in the designjunction Talks Programme

Friday 21 September
17.00 – 17.50
Head Above Water – Design Activism
Speakers: Designer and sculptor Steuart Padwick, Dr Sally Marlow Phd, Engagement and Impact
Fellow, Department of Psychological Medicine, Department of Psychological Medicine, Division
of Academic Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College
London, Juan Ferrari, Senior Associate at Hoare Lea who has a theatre lighting design
background and over 20 years of experience in the lighting design industry.

Head Above Water by Steuart Padwick is a dynamic piece of public art and design engaging
with the public on a new level by using technology and science to great effect.

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