Morag Myerscough's 'Atoll' paints Broadgate in London with her signature palette

The British artist creates a colourful intervention with the biophilic installation at 1 Finsbury Avenue Square, drawing inspiration from how colour and nature help improve well-being.

by Shraddha Nair Published on : Feb 19, 2020

Have you ever heard of the biophilia hypothesis? The term ‘biophilia’ was perhaps first used by German-born American psychoanalyst Erich Fromm is his book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973). The phrase essentially meant the passionate love of life and of all that is alive’. The term was later popularised by Edward O. Wilson in his work Biophilia (1984). Here he proposed that this love the humans have for nature is an innate tendency. He went even further so as to say that this tendency to focus on affiliation with other life forms is, in fact, a genetic bias. This idea is what we know today as the biophilia hypothesis. Moved immensely by this thought, British artist Morag Myerscough created a series of permanent installations commissioned by British Land for Broadgate.

Atoll is a permanent work for a new public space at 1 Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate | Atoll | Morag Myerscough | STIRworld
Atoll is a permanent work for a new public space at 1 Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate Image Credit: Courtesy of Gareth Gardner

Broadgate is a 32-acre neighbourhood space in London, filled with a rich mix of corporate and retail spaces. Broadgate has always been committed to fostering art and culture, making public installations an inherent and essential characteristic of the space. Myerscough is no stranger to creating large format public installations and is known across the world for her geometric visual vocabulary and her love for colour. She is a strong believer in the potential energy that colour can transfer to people. She believes that colour improves well-being and uses it abundantly in her works. Her signature colour palette of bright neon colours brings alive Broadgate’s inaugural building Finsbury Avenue Square. Myerscough’s installations span the group of Finsbury Avenue Square, the centrepiece of which is the biophilic installation Atoll. It is a 7.5 metre tall architectural intervention, which is not only a cafe space but also houses a mini garden. The structure is semi-open, which allows for people on higher floors to enjoy the lush foliage within it.

Myerscough says, “My fascination with how the Victorians made public parks for city workers to get fresh air at weekends (as a child I lived very close to Finsbury Park) has inspired me to bring the park to the workplace at 1FA”. The installation continues across the atrium with hand-painted walls and rotating trim-wall advertising boards.

The colourful centerpiece is a biophilic installation that houses a café | Atoll | Morag Myerscough |STIRworld
The colourful centerpiece is a biophilic installation that houses a café Image Credit: Courtesy of Gareth Gardner

Myerscough creates a bold and playful energy with her artistic interventions but what makes the work truly special is her careful attention to detail. She not only spent months developing the graphics for the space, using a medley of Victorian motifs and 3-D optical patterns, but also stressed on her material choices using bespoke ceramic tiling and marine ply. Her vibrant touch comes in stark contrast to the existing building, which is symmetrically built and painted black with dark bronze anodised cladding. The installation brings in a wave of positivity but also activates the entire ground floor area, infusing it with striking visuals and allowing for engagement between visitors and the space itself.

The brightly hued café is topped with plants, and six neon suns overhead signify ‘joy and energy’ | Atoll | Morag Myerscough| STIRworld
The brightly hued café is topped with plants, and six neon suns overhead signify ‘joy and energy’ Image Credit: Courtesy of Gareth Gardner

Myerscough collaborated with several designers to build this beautiful intervention, in the hope to add a hint of nature and life into an otherwise grey corporate environment. The furniture designs were a result of her work with designer Luke Morgan, the tiles were co-crafted by The Surface Design Studio and Polar Bear Live under her artistic guidance, and the planting was by Oasis Interior Landscaping.

Atoll uses Morag Myerscough’s signature colours and optical patterns | Atoll | Morag Myerscough| STIRworld
Atoll uses Morag Myerscough’s signature colours and optical patterns Image Credit: Courtesy of Gareth Gardner

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About Author

Shraddha Nair

Shraddha Nair

Nair is a writer and curator based in Bengaluru, India. Her curatorial practice is a method by which she negotiates with and navigates the complexities of human behaviour, an interest which flows into her writing as well. She believes that art and collective experience hold immense capacity in the cultivation and development of action and emotion.

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