Lonely Planet Writer

7000 colourful barrels floating on a London lake are brightening up Instagram feeds

For a limited time this summer, visitors to London have the chance to get a glimpse of an impressive large-scale installation by world famous artist Christo, as the piece has just gone on display in Hyde Park. Called The London Mastaba, the piece has been created from 7506 colourful, horizontally stacked barrels, and floats on the Serpentine Lake.

The London Mastaba floating on the Serpentine Lake.
The London Mastaba floating on the Serpentine Lake. Image by Wolfgang Volz

On display until 23 September, the piece is Christo’s first major public, outdoor work in the United Kingdom. The temporary sculpture coincides with an exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries on Christo and his late wife Jeanne-Claude’s work, which includes sculptures, drawings, collages and photographs spanning more than 60 years. The exhibition and the installation both focus on the history of Christo and Jeanne-Claude using barrels in their work and includes information about The Mastaba, a 150-metre tall permanent project set for Abu Dhabi that has been in development since 1977.  

The installation was created using over 7000 barrels.

“I’m delighted that this major new work by Christo has a home in the capital this summer. I encourage Londoners and visitors to come down and enjoy world-class art for free in the gorgeous surroundings of Hyde Park. It shows once again that London is open to people, ideas and creativity,” said Justine Simons, OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries.

The piece has been designed to create a type of abstract painting in the water with its reflection. Image by Wolfgang Volz

The installation has been designed with vibrant colours that will transform with the changes in the light, with the reflection on the lake acting as a type of abstract painting. The construction of Christo’s temporary sculpture began on 3 April, and saw a team of engineers assisting with the task installing the floating platform, made from interlocking high-density polyethylene cubes held in place by 32 six-tonne anchors.

The London skyline with the installation visible. Image by Wolfgang Volz

“As a free museum, the Serpentine is also a fitting place to celebrate two of the greatest public artists of our time. Public art draws people together, starts conversations and attracts visitors who support local businesses and generate revenue for cities,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Serpentine Galleries Chair.

Both The London Mastaba and exhibition are free to the public, and no tickets or reservations are required.

More information is available at the official Serpentine Galleries website.