A Tear in the Wall


Ripping a phone book in half is a classic strongman routine, but one U.K. artist is going a notch further, "tearing" a wall of bricks in two for the sake of art.

Alex Chinneck is the mind behind the 10-ton, 4,000-brick permanent installation, which gives the illusion of a page ripping in two.

The installation, titled "Six Pins and a Half Dozen Needles," is situated in Assembly London, which will house offices, restaurants and retail. Prior to the redevelopment of the complex, a publisher occupied the space for two decades, a fact that served as the inspiration for Chinneck’s work.

The sculpture is placed 65 feet high, giving the appearance that the building’s red brick is splitting in two. According to Dezeen, Chinneck spent months scanning torn sheets of paper in order to design the split digitally.

"I try to introduce sculptural interventions in unexpected contexts, heightening a sense of discovery when you encounter them," Chinneck told Dezeen. "With this in mind, the archetypal nature of the building's upper elevation makes it a perfect platform for surprise.

"The work looks to energize the architecture by reconfiguring and reinvigorating what was already materially present, albeit seemingly," Chinneck added.

The designer also noted that he strove to make the piece visually harmonious with the space it occupies, rather than letting it become contextually overpowering.

Six Pins and a Half Dozen Needles

The two halves of the 40-foot tall torn-page sculpture appear as if they are leaning away from one another, ready to fall. To add a cartoonish element to the sculpture, the designer said he layered the bricks two deep, which lends an exaggerated depth to the work.

To keep the sculpture steady and standing, the installation was mounted on a steel framework that was both bolted and welded to the building. The actual page tear, noted Dezeen, is comprised of hundreds of unique water- and hand-cut bricks, along with 1,000 separate stainless steel components.

Overall, installation of the piece took 18 hours, with each segment lifted over the roofs of neighboring buildings—some of which exceeded 240 feet.

In order to make this page-tearing dream a reality, Chinneck worked with a team for over 14 months, collaborating with structural engineers, steel fabricators, brick makers and other industry professionals, along with his customary art team.

Publishing the Page

The artist named the piece to reflect what it takes to stitch up a tear—pins and needles. Chinneck noted that he divorced two things that are inherently linked by placing the theoretical pins and needles on opposing sides of the installation.

"I use well-known expressions because I think people feel an immediate acquaintance with them,” he told Dezeen. Surrealism is the warping of the world around us and both my work and my titles look to distort familiarity with a measured portion of fantasy."

The artist is most known for his temporary installations that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction, which includes an upside-down pylon and a slumping house facade.

The work was commissioned by AXA Investment Mangers—Real Assets.


Tagged categories: Artists; Brick; Building facades; Color + Design; Construction; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Renovation

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.