Piccadilly Circus Water Lilies

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

At the heart of London’s theatre land, Piccadilly Circus is synonymous with bustle, noise and traffic. How would the famous junction appear in a future flooded London, after its iconic façades are re-clad with lotus-like solar panels and the spot is invaded by energy harnessing windmills? After photographing Piccadilly Circus from the elevated vantage point of Lilywhite’s department store, Graves and Madoc-Jones visually enhanced the appearance of Eros. In reality, its architectural environment dwarfs the 19th century sculpture just as its iconic status is hi-jacked by the surrounding digital advertising. By enlarging the scale of the solar panels and manicuring the urban landscape, the artists playfully imagine a dynamic new setting for the winged messenger.
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St Paul’s Monkeys

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

The view from the Stone Gallery at the base of Sir Christopher Wren’s great dome provides a view over a changed world. Tate Modern, the great cultural landmark of London, once linked to St Paul’s Cathedral and City Of London by the Millennium Bridge is now cut off by the flooded river Thames.

Climate change brings with it shifts in eco systems. Some long established species become extinct whilst new and unusual specimens gain a foothold.

The St Paul’s Monkeys are relaxed. They perch on this ancient and venerable building that emerged following the Fire of London, withstanding the blitz and the development of the high rise city around it.

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Whitehall Tornado

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

Trafalgar Square represents iconic London and is a gathering place for tourists and Londoners alike. Every major celebration in the capital takes place in this public space. A warming climate causes more extreme and unpredictable weather. Whitehall Tornado hits at the heart of the establishment and throws the status quo into chaos.

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Hyde Park Palm Oil

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

Self-sufficient London by definition questions the value of power in new contexts. Amid the fronds and leaves of tropical palm trees in Hyde Park Palm Oil, the Mayfair Hilton Hotel looms up, dominating its humid environment in an area which houses an established community of Middle Eastern Londoners. Hailed as the revolutionary eco-fuel, palm oil, the true subject of Hyde Park Palm Oil, confronts us with the realisation that this resource and its increasingly elevated significance to Western oil-based economies, poses a potential threat to the planet.

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Notting Hill Carnival

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

Like a Richard Hamilton photo-collage, Notting Hill Carnival is a visual composite of 20 separate images. A chance discovery of a shot of a young woman applying sun cream (shown at bottom left of the image) catalysed the idea of transforming and uniting London’s carnival audience in blue sunblock. Like the Australian public health advice to ‘Slip Slap Slop’, perhaps a similar Government campaign to protect ourselves from sun damage is not too far in the future?

 

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Glacial Thames

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones

Glacial Thames and Skating at Tower Bridge are inspired by the historical tradition of frost fairs in London that were regularly staged on the frozen surface of the Thames as early as 1684 up to the early 1800’s. Re-considered amid the current debate of the deceleration of the Gulf Stream, which would drastically lower temperatures in London, Glacial Thames counteracts the romance of a frozen Thames by acknowledging that this immense tidal river would in fact become a slushy, filthy slick of ice. Viewed from HMS Belfast, Graves and Madoc-Jones took a series of photographs across the river and digitally stitched them together to link views of the Tower of London, London Bridge and City Hall within a fictional late summer setting. The build-up of packed ice and an incapacitated river militates against the idealized notion of a city magically transformed by a dramatic drop in temperature.

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RIO+20+20

© Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones.

Graves and Madoc-Jones created RIO+20+20 to mark the ‘RIO+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development’ that took place in Rio de Janeiro in July 2012.  It was the first of their new series of ‘Postcards From The Future’ featuring other World Cities.

A huge increase in seaweed production combined with warming ocean temperatures has led to vast blooms of algae, some several kilometres across, forming along the South China Sea coastline. As the algae gets washed ashore it clogs up the beaches at Quingdao and other Chinese resorts, suffocating the water and killing marine life.

Your eyes are drawn to the Brazilian body beautiful depicted on almost every postcard of Rio de Janeiro. The horror of this image is subtle, how can beach life survive next to a dead sea?

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In 2009 Graves and Madoc-Jones were commissioned by Condé Nast to design the cover of the relaunch UK edition ofWired Magazine.

Headlined ‘Your Life in the Future’, this image, based on an aerial shot of London by the British photographer, Jason Hawkes, unfurled a seductive futuristic cityscape dotted with floating cities and flying machines. For over 20 years, Graves and Madoc-Jones have created projections for architectural projects, manipulating images in a craft deliberately honed to ‘make things disappear.’ The search for new forms of imagery related to globalization and climate change presented the opportunity to picture London in the not so distant future.

Looking at the Wired cover it is tempting to read it as a paean to Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, Blade Runner. The image is inspired by early modern architect-inventors, Carlo Mollino (1905–1973) and Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983). Mollino was a true polymath whose designs for racing courses, aircraft hangars and furniture were led by his passion for speed, dynamism and beauty. Massachusetts-born Fuller, in his quest to create improved forms of human habitation in the 1940’s, devised the geodesic structural system, a supremely inventive and influential approach to design.

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