WHAT IS THAT? THAT MY FRIEND IS THE CHRISTO LONDON MASTABA

London’s Serpentine pedalo peddlers, swans and swimmers have a new companion this summer, the Christo London Mastaba.  It is huge.

Christo London Mastaba Serpentine Hyde Park

WHO IS CHRISTO?

Christo is the man who wrapped the Reichstag.  Together with his late wife Jean-Claude, he has created monumental and largely temporary works of art since 1961.  Christo was born in Bulgaria and grew up under communism, aged 21 he defected.  Growing up in a country where government control was very strict left him with a desire for his art not to be controlled in any way, this means that all his projects are self funded.  No taxpayers’ or sponsors’ money has gone into the construction of the London Mastaba: it has all come from Christo’s pocket.

Christo unveils London Mastaba

CHRISTO LONDON MASTABA – FACTS AND FIGURES

How many barrels? There are 7,506 barrels stacked horizontally on a floating platform.  It is forty metres wide, thirty metres deep and twenty metres high.  It weighs 650 tonnes and is held in place by 32 six tonne anchors. The Mastaba takes up 1% of the lake surface and changes with the light. I was lucky on the day that I visited to have weather that changed from dark and threatening to bright and sunny. At the moment that Christo stepped forward a shaft of sunlight broke through.

Close up London Mastaba

HOW LONG WILL THE LONDON MASTABA FLOAT ON THE SERPENTINE?

You have until 9 September 2018 to go Hyde Park and see this massive piece of sculpture for yourself.  Just how you view it is up to you.  You could stroll around the entire perimeter of the Serpentine, as I did.  It took me quite a long time because almost every other step I had to stop and take another photo.  Stop for a cup of coffee or a spot of lunch at the Lido Bar and Cafe which gives an excellent view of the Christo London Mastaba.  Pack your swimming costume and you could swim just metres away from the cliff faces of the London Mastaba.  Or you take to the water, pedals are available to hire enabling you to circumnavigate the Mastaba, this is what I shall be doing in a couple of weeks time with friends from Twins Club.  If pedalling is too much effort there is a Solar Shuttle that makes its way from the Diana, Princess of Wales fountain to the northern shore of the lake.

London Mastaba Serpentine Hyde Park

WHAT IS A MASTABA?

Good question, there are two answers.  First of all it is a stone bench found outside Mesopotamian houses.  Then the Egyptians took the word and the shape and used it for early burial tomb.  Translated from Ancient Egyptian it means House for Eternity or Eternal House.  So an early type of pyramid.  The London Mastaba is a trapezoid shape, as are all mastabas, the flat walls rear up at 90° to the water and sloping sides at 60°.  Should you want to know more about how Christo and Jean-Claude evolved their idea for the Mastaba there is a free exhibition on at the Serpentine Gallery.

Serpentine Lido Swimmer near Christo London Mastaba

Bloomberg have funded an app that you can download onto your phone that will guide you round all the arty things to see in Hyde Park this summer.  There are plans to construct an even larger Mastaba in Abu Dhabi, made from golden barrels at eight times larger it would be the largest sculpture in the world.  Christo says that he doesn’t mind what people think of his massive sculpture.

“Every interpretation is legitimate. Critical or positive. It makes you think”

What do you think?  Do you feel the need to head to Hyde Park or do you think that the Serpentine is best left to swans and swimmers?

HOW TO SEE THE LONDON MASTABA

  • No tickets are needed, the park is open daily from 5am until midnight.
  • Serpentine Gallery, open daily 10am – 6pm, free
  • Nearest tube stations Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate and South Kensington.
  • Pedalos are available to hire 10am – 7pm every day. £12 adult or £5 child  or £29 family per hour
  • Lido Café and Bar, open daily 8am – 9pm

London has many enticing exhibitions on this summer, check out my guide to  Best London Exhibitions Summer 2018.

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Christo London Mastaba

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36 Comments

  1. June 24, 2018 / 12:12 am

    That is quite a structure and certainly one you can’t fail to miss. I love the different colours and pedalos sounds a great way to look up close.

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 24, 2018 / 12:19 am

      We have a date booked for a circumnavigation followed by a swim!

  2. June 24, 2018 / 6:51 am

    Fascinating. At first sight, it reminded me of RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire. That’s an enormous structure. I’m amazed it had to be so deep and required such huge anchors. If I find myself in Hyde Park I will certainly be calling in because it looks stunning. #mysundayphoto

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 24, 2018 / 8:19 am

      So much to photograph in Hyde Park this summer!

  3. June 24, 2018 / 8:16 am

    I had no idea what a mastaba is so I’ve learnt something new and I love that you can get up close to it. I’ll look out for he AD one. I bet that one will be huge!

  4. June 24, 2018 / 8:45 am

    Looks like a fascinating piece. I’d like to see that. And I also love that it’s self funded and available to everyone. #mysundayphoto

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 24, 2018 / 8:56 am

      It will certainly take me to the park more often than usual this summer

  5. June 24, 2018 / 8:48 am

    What an incredible sight, I might have to try and visit this in the summer

    Have a good Sunday and thank you for linking up to #MySundayPhoto

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2018 / 5:27 pm

      Look forward to seeing your photos!

  6. June 24, 2018 / 12:52 pm

    Hi Catherine, I had no idea what a mastaba was before reading this. I love the fact the sculpture was funded by Christo himself and I can’t imagine how long it took to put together using that many barrels. In your top photo it looks rather like a square of chocolate floating in the Serpentine, don’t you think. #MySundayPhoto

    xx

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 24, 2018 / 12:54 pm

      It does, a Turkish Delight flavoured one!

  7. June 24, 2018 / 12:55 pm

    Fascinating. Back in the 1980’s, Christo came to Miami and wrapped all the little islands off of the Intracoastal in hot pink. I thoroughly enjoyed riding all the causeways to see the art before it was taken away.

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 24, 2018 / 1:01 pm

      I’ve seen the pictures of the islands, how lucky to have seen them for your self

  8. June 24, 2018 / 1:58 pm

    Wow now that is just huge! Such an imposing structure and thought provoking sculpture. Thanks for explaining it’s origins.

  9. June 26, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    Goodness! I hadn’t realised how huge it was

  10. June 26, 2018 / 6:04 pm

    I love the way it changes colour – and I definitely agree that art should make you think. It’s tempting to take a wander to the park and see it (not sure I fancy a dip in the Serpentine!) Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 26, 2018 / 6:08 pm

      I have made a date for circumnavigation and a dip in Serpentine… will let you know how it goes!

  11. June 27, 2018 / 2:58 pm

    I do love the rise of public art to try and entice people into museums. In the US, they are cutting art education programs from the schools at an alarming rate, so I do appreciate when artists are willing to create things for the public space. I think I would download the app and create a tour of Hyde Park. I always feel like I’ve missed things on previous trips! #Citytripping

    • Catherine
      Author
      June 27, 2018 / 5:26 pm

      Mike Bloomberg spoke about the economic benefit to cities of great public art at the unveiling, hopefully people in charge of purse strings will listen to him.

  12. June 28, 2018 / 4:07 am

    I love this and would absolutely want to see it multiple ways! So fun, and I’m so glad you’re sharing as I won’t be there to see it myself. #citytripping

  13. June 28, 2018 / 11:03 am

    I’m always amazed by the things people come up with. This looks particularly impressive.

  14. July 2, 2018 / 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the tip, I’m going for a look this week! I’ve always been fascinated by Christo – I loved the wrapped buildings and the fence tho I’ve never seen them in real life. So now’s a chance.

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 2, 2018 / 4:55 pm

      Same here, I remember seeing the Reichstag wrapping on the news and really really wanting to see it.

  15. July 2, 2018 / 4:58 pm

    It’s a blot on the London landscape, but a fabulous one. May we get many more of these to come!

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 2, 2018 / 5:01 pm

      Would that all blots were so colourful and temporary!

  16. July 5, 2018 / 1:41 pm

    it’s huge! #farawayfiles

  17. July 6, 2018 / 7:36 am

    Great work. Accessible to all, available to view in so many different ways, interpret it in your own way, and self-funded. And if you don’t happen to like it, then it will be gone soon and it didn’t cost you a penny!
    #farawayfiles

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 6, 2018 / 7:40 am

      I find that a large part of its fascination is that it will be gone by Christmas

  18. July 6, 2018 / 11:08 pm

    Can’t wait to go and see it! For once this year we are so late checking Serpentine galleries summer exhibition and I’ve been itching – guess too many bday, friends and weddings! #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 6, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      Lots of the summer left……

  19. July 8, 2018 / 3:53 am

    I love Christo!!! His work is brilliant. He’s done some amazing pieces in New York, and how I would love to see the Mastaba in London. Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

  20. July 10, 2018 / 3:05 pm

    This structure has certainly divided london! My husband hates it, I quite like it! #culturedkids

    • Catherine
      Author
      July 12, 2018 / 4:23 pm

      Love it or hate it, it will be gone by the autumn!

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