22nd Jul - 22nd Jul
Local artist and sculptor, Jonathan O’Dea has unveiled an impressive two-metre sculpture at The Mall Walthamstow on 22 July 2020 to mark the anniversary of the fire, which swept through the shopping centre a year ago.
At approximately 7.40am on 22 July 2019, a large fire broke out at The Mall. Although there were no fatalities, half of the roof collapsed and the shopping centre sustained extensive damage, which meant that it was unable to reopen until September.
Entitled ‘After the Fire’, the commemorative work of art was crafted from the remains of the blaze and is now displayed near the Town Square entrance of The Mall, near CeX and Sports Direct.
Jonathan, who lives just metres from the shopping centre and witnessed the fire from his back garden, used charred wood from the burnt-out roof to produce the sculpture.
During creation of the poignant sculpture, Jonathan filmed himself over a six-week period, beautifully capturing the key stages of development. The time-lapse video is set against a haunting soundtrack, recorded by folk musicians, Michael Walsh and Liz Hanks.
“It acts as a small window into the creation of art and culture, which often goes unseen by the public,” says Jonathan.
As an artist, Jonathan is well known for his use of recycled building materials. For previous projects, Jonathan gathered materials from the construction of the Olympic Park in East London and the city’s Crossrail Project.
Jonathan explains: “My interest in using recycled materials is connected with my experience of working in the construction industry. The short time I spent working on the Jubilee extension line in the 1990s had a profound impact on me and later shaped my ideas and thinking around art.”
The concept of regeneration – turning something old into something new - resonates throughout Jonathan’s work and this latest project for The Mall, adds to the narrative. It also reflects the culture of his hometown of Walthamstow, which has seen huge changes over the last 15 years. Jonathan reflects on these changes by exploring how regeneration can impact our sense of identity and visual culture.
Jonathan has been producing and exhibiting artwork professionally for over 18 years. He has had 14 solo exhibitions and taken part in more than 20 group exhibitions across Britain, Ireland and China and in 2015 he was accepted as member of the Royal Society of Sculptors. Jonathan’s studio is located in the Borough of Waltham Forest and he was a big supporter of its successful bid to be the first London Borough of Culture in 2019.
“Jonathan is a hugely talented artist and it is wonderful to see something so creative and inspiring come out of the fire. It has been a very difficult year for The Mall Walthamstow, with the devastation of the fire and the impact of Covid-19 but this is a very positive sign that we are moving on and looking ahead to the future,” comments General Manager, Rebecca Bird.
The sculpture will remain on display in the centre and is also available to purchase. Jonathan has generously agreed to donate 50% of his fee to The Mall’s chosen charity, the Retail Trust. Anyone who is interested in purchasing ‘After the Fire’ should contact Jonathan via his website at www.jonathanodea.com.