Back to All Events

Alex Chinneck - A pound of flesh for 50p (The Melting House)

  • Alex Chinneck 40 Southwark St London, SE1 9HP United Kingdom (map)

Date: 26th September – 23rd November 

Time: 24 hours 

Location: 40 Southwark Street, SE1 9HP

Artist talk: Date and location TBC

Time lapse video by Chris Tubbs and Rachel Barber. Music by Sonjay Prabhakar

A short video on how the house has been melting. Courtesy of Angie Dixon(Illuminate Productions) for MERGE 2014.

Image by Angie Dixon - Illuminate Productions

Watch this video of behind the scenes part 2 for A Pound of flesh for 50p- Courtesy of Angie Dixon (Illuminate Productions) for MERGE 2014.

Image by Angie Dixon - Illuminate Productions

 A pound of flesh for 50p, photos by Angie Dixon and Tommo.

'A pound of flesh for 50p' is a life size building made from wax that will melt to the ground during the festival. This project is part of Bankside Transformed and celebrates the history of an old candle making factory which was based in Bankside a couple of centuries ago.

Built from 8,000 wax bricks Chinneck will construct a full-sized two-storey house that melts over 30 days. The installation will mirror the scale, design and scenery of an archetypal property before the bricks begin to drip and the building starts to warp, leaving just the roof on the floor in a pile of melted wax.

Photo by Angie Dixon - Illuminate Productions

The house will be melted manually with handheld heating apparatus commonly used in roofing applications. This method provides control over the artwork’s appearance, duration and changing figure, inspired by the classic process of sculpting material to shape form in a contemporary and unique way. The bricks will be cast in paraffin wax in beds of terracotta sand. This method makes each unique but collectively they mimic the colour, coarse surface and irregularity of a real wall. For the last twelve months the artist has collaborated with chemists, wax manufacturers and engineers to develop visually convincing wax bricks that transform in the most sculpturally effective way. 

With surrealism and spectacle the experience delivers an illusion of architectural scale that transforms each day.



Behind the scenes- A pound of flesh for 50p, parts 1-3 video by Angie Dixon.

Short video by Tommo

Alex's Miner on the Moon video is by Tommo.

Last chance to see - Miner on the Moon by Alex Chinneck

For MERGE Festival in 2013 Chinneck built an upside down building to international acclaim. The large-scale site-specific work on a building due for demolition on Blackfriars Road had its façade turned upside down with a design that considered and celebrated the history and life of the building.  

Built in 1780, the site was originally used as livery stables, housing horses and carriages for hire. The access through the site was also used to ferry live cattle and goods from the courtyard to trade along the Thames. The building itself was used as a residential unit for families and workers. In 1880 the ground floor shop unit changed use and was listed in the local Post Office as a Pawn Broker, while the passageway to the side was used to gain access to the Tress and Co site. 

The artwork is due to be demolished at the end of this year’s festival to make way for a new high rise development. Join us to create a narrative for its final days.

London-based artist Chinneck takes sculpturally complex routes to arrive at playful visual moments. Exploring the space between art, theatre and architecture he is inspired by the landscapes of London’s industrial peripheries. He reworks their powerful aesthetics and aims to find new and ambitious applications for everyday construction materials. The unrefined materials of basic construction are given a second life. Removed from their utilitarian context they are reshaped and enlivened with new purpose and appearance. Stones, metals and woods are manipulated beyond their apparent capacity to transcend their material nature and often move with illusory effect.

Chinneck has a history of making large scale public works to great acclaim, including From the Knees of My Nose to the Belly of My Toes, in Margate and Miner on the Moon, Blackfriars, London in 2013 and Telling the truth through false teeth in Hackney, London.

Earlier Event: 18 September
Peter William Holden - Dance Machines
Later Event: 19 September
Ruth Ewan - Bread Ahead