by Cass Art

Just a minute’s walk from the train station in Peckham, south east London, there's a car park that ditched dusty cars for art installations, orchestras and a straw auditorium. The rooftop spaces of this funhouse of a building are home to the infamous Franks Cafe and Bold Tendencies, a unique non-profit organisation that for over a decade has brought a rich mix of culture to the public, commissioning site-specific sculpture, architecture and orchestral opera.

This year we’ve had the opportunity to support the commission of what probably is the most colourful installation to overlook the London skyline, created by Argentinian artist in residence Irina Kirchuk. Her collection of sculptures is an immersive environment made out of discarded materials, locally sourced in SE15, rebuilt and repainted into a new life as “Cloudburst”.

We caught up with Irina to find out more about her experience as an artist in residence in London, as well as the process behind Cloudburst.

Hi Irina! Thank you for chatting with us. Why don't you tell the readers of the Cass Art blog a bit about yourself?

Hi Cass Art! I’m Argentinian, I was born in 1983 in Buenos Aires, which is where I live and where I studied Visual Arts with a specialisation in sculpture at UNA (Universidad Nacional de Arte).


Your installation is titled Cloudburst. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind it?

I had many ideas for the title, but “Cloudburst” was my favourite for several reasons. On one hand, it relates to the spectacular view of the London skyline from the rooftop of Bold Tendencies. The height of the building allows you to observe the changes in weather from really up close! On the other, cloudbursts as a weather phenomenon aren’t very typical of English weather, but they are very common in South America – they are very heavy rainfalls, as heavy as they are short. Something that falls from the sky with immense force, in a specific place and in great quantity. I thought that this installation, which is composed of a large number of sculptures, could be like a rainfall that burst from the sky, onto the rooftop. Lastly, I was fascinated by the juxtaposition of a word associated with greyness and dullness, to a work comprised of many colourful parts, like a radiant cloudburst.


Photo Credit: Peter Landers

Irina Kirchuk, Cloudburst, 2018, Bold Tendencies Commission, photo credit Peter Landers Photography

Cloudburst is made out of found objects that you upcycled and turned into art. Do you have any fun stories about these found objects? What’s the most bizarre one?

Well…it was really fun finding all the objects, because together with my helpers Ralph and Niall, we went to all sorts of places. A really fun instance is when we found discarded extractor fans from the McDonald’s in Peckham. I really liked their shape because as enormous as they were, they still had a specialist, technical look to them, and geometrically speaking that’s the kind of shape I like to work with to make sculptures. Cleaning them was a hard task, as there was several years’ worth of kitchen grease that had built up in the fans. We ended up using a scraper, and the grease came off in chunks. It was so bizarre we couldn’t help but laugh through the process.


You have been working with Montana spray paints for 15 years now – that’s one strong love story! What makes it your prime choice for your artwork?

I always say that working with Montana paints is working with a master painter, because the quality of the paint itself and the way the can delivers it makes it so the work surface is always impeccable. I also love the wide variety of colours, because I love using every possible colour in my sculptures, and Montana has them. This gives me complete freedom in the creative process.

 Irina Kirchuk at work in Bold Tendencies, Peckham


You mentioned your work is very much influenced by its surroundings. How has the amazing Peckham rooftop location affected your work on Cloudburst?

It’s the first time in my career that I had the possibility to create an outdoor installation, so it was a very challenging experience, but also a learning opportunity. The location was a key aspect of the creation of this installation: the original idea was to work with rubbish from the local area to generate a sort of surrealist city skyline. I didn’t want to create an artwork that I could make anywhere else, I wanted to work with the most striking thing about the rooftop location – the view of London.

What’s next for you?

My next residence will be in the Argentinian city of Córdoba, in August. I’m also going to run some workshops in Lille (France), and I’m also working on a solo exhibition in Bologna, Italy. I’ve also been invited to work on the Hermés shop windows in Buenos Aires!

 Photo Credit Peter Landers

Irina Kirchuk, Cloudburst, 2018, Bold Tendencies Commission, photo credit Peter Landers Photography

Thanks Irina, it was fun to get an insider view to your creative process!

You can experience Cloudburst, as well as a multitude of other installations, at Bold Tendencies until 22nd September 2018. Going to visit? Show us your snaps of the artwork with the hashtag #cassart, and tag Bold Tendencies at @boldtendencies.


Feeling inspired?

  • See more of Irina’s work on her website.
  • Find out more about Bold Tendencies Community Interest Company (founded 2007), a non-profit organisation enabling an annual world-class arts and cultural programme and civic space open to the public – commissioning site-specific sculpture, architecture, orchestral music and opera.
  • Take a look at the Montana spray paint range, Irina’s favourite medium.

Lead image: Irina Kirchuk, Cloudburst, 2018, Bold Tendencies Commission, photo credit Peter Landers Photography

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