PEFC-certified talking sculptures impress in London

Two interactive sculptures, made from PEFC-certified Douglas Fir, greeted passers-by during the London Design Festival. Part of a mental health campaign, the figures are a reminder that through communication the weight many of us carry can be lightened.

PEFC-certified talking sculptures impress in London

10 October 2019 Sustainable construction

In a bid to further the conversation about mental health, two interactive sculptures greeted passers-by during the London Design Festival in September.

The 5.5 metre sculptures were made from PEFC-certified Douglas Fir from leading French timber supplier Piveteaubois and supported by France-Douglas – a key association promoting the use of French Douglas Fir.

Multi-award-winning British designer Steuart Padwick once again teamed up with ‘Time to Change’, a mental health campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, to create the sculptures ‘Talk to Me’.

‘Talk to Me’ is a hopeful piece, reminding us that through communication the weight many of us carry can be lightened. Padwick designed the sculptures in PEFC-certified Douglas Fir to convey a warmth and humanity in stark contrast to the solid cuboid blocks that represent the burden on the shoulders of the sculptures. 

“It is fantastic that Steuart Padwick has chosen to use PEFC-certified Douglas Fir. Not only is timber a sympathetic, natural and organic material that creates a sense of well-being, it has been sourced from responsibly-managed forests,” said Alun Watkins, National Secretary of PEFC UK.

The series progressed from the standing figure carrying the burden on its shoulders to resting against it – highlighting that whilst the burden may not be overtly visible, it is often not far away.

Passers-by who approached the interactive giant cuboid timber figures triggered a proximity sensor, and the figures began to voice poignant and uplifting words. These conversations started to crack the burden to release a glowing light.

“Many of us carry issues and burdens that hold us down and hold us back,” says Steuart Padwick. “Even when the burden is not overtly holding them down it is rarely far away. That is why one piece has the burden clearly on the shoulders, and with the other sitting piece, the burden is to one side – perhaps forgotten for a moment but always near.”

Talk to Me was designed and built within 12 weeks with minimal funding. All materials were donated and almost everyone involved in the project worked pro bono. The sculptures were part of this year’s designjunction, a design show within The London Design Festival, and in support of the UK’s mental health campaign Time To Change.

Photo credits: Daniel Shearing


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