Head Above Water.
Illuminating mental health.
Head Above Water is an interactive, nine-metre high wooden sculpture by British artist Steuart Padwick. The giant head, which is situated at the end of Queen’s Stone jetty in Southbank as part of London’s design junction festival, hopes to stand as a symbol of bravery, compassion and positivity as part of a wider charity campaign to remove the stigma from mental illness.
The challenge to our lighting team was to design, program and help to install a bespoke system that would bring the sculpture to life. Our design not only lights up Head Above Water and the surrounding River Thames with a combination of hundreds of colours, it also allows it to constantly change colour. As part of the project’s ethos of reaching out, our team added a unique level of interactivity to the installation. People can share their emotions and moods with the sculpture via social media (Twitter), with each word triggering a change in colour that represents the feeling. The result is a truly unique lighting installation, and a fascinating temporary addition to London’s riverside.
We also developed the technology and scripting behind the sculpture that means the interactions can be logged anonymously. These will then be collated to show the collective emotional state of the audience over the course of the installation, and for psychologists and mental health professionals to discuss and analyse the information.
A story of collaboration.
Head Above Water initially began as a clay head that Steuart crafted, and developed into the giant wooden sculpture we see today. From conception to final build, Head Above Water has been a story of collaboration: along with our lighting team, other engineers, timber suppliers, consultants, and a host of volunteers, all gave their time and expertise to make the project a reality.
Click here to see how Head above water is challenging mental health stigma.
Click here to see the installation in action.
Head Above Water is a fine emblem of what we all hope for: a healthy, creative, compassionate mind.Kevin McCloud (Designer and TV Presenter)