make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend


'The Hop' by Jyll Bradley at the Hayward Gallery is about time, memory and light

The site-specific installation The Hop, a new commission by Jyll Bradley at the Hayward Gallery, reimagines the cultural history of the 20th century London.

by Dilpreet BhullarPublished on : Sep 05, 2022

The Hayward Gallery, part of the Southbank Centre, is known for persistently presenting works by experimental and innovative artists. To continue its programme of displaying illuminated outdoor installations, and having free access to public art, the art gallery announced a series of newly commissioned artworks from award-winning visual artists Anthea Hamilton, Jyll Bradley and Monira Al Qadiri. Ralph Rugoff, Director at the Hayward Gallery, in the press note states, "All of these outdoor commissions are part of our on-going effort to make the most of the Southbank Centre’s outstanding site by presenting a free cultural playground where visitors can engage with an inspiring range of accessible public installations by leading international and British artists. Anyone simply walking across the site can encounter and experience playful works of art that spur the imagination and prompt us to see the world in fresh ways.”

Immersive Installation The Hop at Hayward Gallery, Jyll Bradley | Hayward Gallery - The Hop | STIRworld
Immersive installation The Hop at Hayward Gallery Image: Thierry Bal

The brutalist building of The Hayward was designed by a group of young architects, including Dennis Crompton, Warren Chalk and Ron Herron and is named after Sir Isaac Hayward, a former leader of the London County Council. This is also the site of the post-WWII The Festival of Britain where colourful pavilions were built to bring culture and hope for the future to people who lived through the times of war. Enlightening the audience on the forgotten chapter of cultural history, the site-specific art sculpture The Hop is a new commission by Bradley that was inspired by the stories of thousands of families who travelled from London, England every year to bring in the hop harvest in the fields of Kent. 

Play of light and shadow, The Hop at Hayward Gallery, Jyll Bradley | Hayward Gallery - The Hop | STIRworld
Play of light and shadow, The Hop at Hayward Gallery Image: Thierry Bal

The Hop, an open pavilion, is a response to the history of the place. The Hayward Gallery is also one of the finest examples of brutalist architecture in the UK. Bradley sees the brutalist architecture of The Hayward as a contemporary relative of ancient stone structures like Stonehenge - a gathering place of people and ideas. In an interview with STIR, the sculpture artist explains, “The Hop juxtaposes an ancient plant growing structure - a hop garden - with a truly urban building. Yet because of the local history of 'hopping' they are strangely related. The Hop casts geometric colours onto the concrete Hayward - there is something eternal about transitory coloured light cast onto stone - I am thinking of stone-made European cathedrals and their stained glass.” 

Closer View of The Hop at Hayward Gallery, Jyll Bradley | Hayward Gallery - The Hop | STIRworld
Closer view of The Hop at Hayward Gallery Image: Thierry Bal

Standing at almost four metres in height, the installation - made of metal, wood and coloured plexiglass - reflects the geometric design of a Kentish hop garden. The vines were arranged in a manner to let the crop have maximum exposure to the sunlight for healthy growth. The pairing of organic and industrial materials in the contemporary art practice of Bradley underlines the coexistence of many selves together. It is the childhood spent in the Kentish countryside and adulthood experienced in Bermondsey in the case of Bradley. “I worked at the gallery as a young artist and I live down the road! I am also from Kent, the rural region of hops,” discloses Bradley, “so when I heard about the summer exodus of local Londoners to Kent for hop-picking, I had an instant idea to create a hop garden at the Hayward.” 

Installation The Hop reimagines the cultural history of the 20th century London, Jyll Bradley | Hayward Gallery - The Hop | STIRworld
Installation The Hop reimagines the cultural history of the 20th century London Image: Thierry Bal

The elements which have remained constant in the long art practice of Bradley - immersive installations, films, drawings and sculptures - are colour and light. From the photographic light-box installations produced earlier in her career as an artist to the current-day fluorescent Plexiglas installations – the elements create a play of light and shadow to reorient the trained eye of the viewers. The novel perspective gives wings to the imagination to see hitherto unnoticed surroundings. 

Outdoor Installation, The Hop at Hayward Gallery, Jyll Bradley | Hayward Gallery - The Hop | STIRworld
Outdoor installation, The Hop at Hayward Gallery Image: Thierry Bal

By citing the example of the installation The Hop, a series of bright public canopies alongside the Hayward Gallery, Bradley expounds on the conspicuous presence of colour to recompose the visual perception of the spaces, “The use of colour in my works serves to reveal the potential of the structure itself. My sculptures derive from 'growth structures', the structures humans create in order to grow plants. In the case of The Hop the work is based on ancient structures created for growing hops, an ingredient of beer. Growth structures are always designed to maximise the amount of light that a plant receives from the sun. So my use of coloured Plexiglas - and the way it reacts to the sun and casts myriad colours - reveals just how extraordinary this human ingenuity is.” 

Jyll Bradley’s Portrait | Hayward Gallery - The Hop | STIRworld
Artist Jyll Bradley Image: Charlie Hopkinson

The everyday hustle fails us to realise the interdependency between self, place and community. The immersive experience is of paramount significance for Bradley. The site-specific installations nudge the audience to exchange ideas and experience the unseen. “But before then is the entry point for visitors to the artwork. I am very interested in the idea of 'radical hospitality' - how do I invite people literally and metaphorically into my artworks in the first place? In the public realm this is very important,” declares Bradley. The generative installations by Bradley have not limited to anchor an immersive experience, but prompt the audience to evoke an emotional and spiritual sensitivity as well. 

The in-situ installation works of Bradley involve close engagement with the site to create new spaces and invite people in. “One of the things I most enjoy is that people use my sculptures as spaces to create their work - be that fashion shows or music videos or even getting married. Or just for quiet contemplation,” mentions the artists. Yet, it would be of interest to have the audience explore the 'story' behind the work: even if the sculptural installations are abstracted they carry a sliver of history, for instance, the hop garden geometry of The Hop.    

Jyll Bradley’s The Hop at Hayward Gallery Video: Courtesy of Southbank Centre

The installation The Hop by Jyll Bradley is on view at The Hayward Gallery, London until October 2, 2022.

What do you think?

About Author


see more articles

make your fridays matter

This site uses cookies to offer you an improved and personalised experience. If you continue to browse, we will assume your consent for the same.