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IRIS - The Messenger

by Mathias Gmachl & Roosa Tulvio

IRIS – The Messenger: Boal Quay offers a sense of wide-open space and fresh air rolling off the river. IRIS captures the air currents that drive this environment in its curvilinear form – the artwork creates a beacon of light and hope, a focal point that sits at a threshold between the urban and the wild. IRIS creates a place to return to and reflect on the challenges and changes we have to face as individuals and communities in order to safeguard these precious natural places. It creates a place for us to have a moment to pause and grieve what is lost, so that messages of hope and action can emerge. The six metre platform, which is illuminated by the lights from the nine metre tall sculpture above, offers a physical space for people to come together. The platform is covered in one-off casted concrete tiles with messages created by the people of King’s Lynn. These messages will explore the themes of fears, hopes and dreams, arranged into new poetry and forms. Like its namesake, the messenger between ancient Greek gods and the humans, IRIS will deliver the messages from the local community, carved onto its platform, to visitors and lift them up metaphorically as they see the sculpture leaping into the open sky.


Mathias Gmachl is an Austrian London based artist, designer and researcher, internationally recognised for the design and fabrication of pioneering experiences and environments that radically rethink our future. He ran a spatial art studio Loop.pH for 15 years that created pieces in various scales and locations, ranging from office walls to festivals. Mathias and the studio’s clients include Historic Royal Palaces, Design Museum, Future Everything.

Roosa Tulvio, a Finnish designer and maker living in London, has worked in the past with Mathias as a designer and art fabricator. Before returning to art, she worked as the head designer for the British sustainable luxury accessory brand Bottletop. Prior to this, as part of her accessories design practice and consulting, Roosa travelled around the world working with unprivileged communities and groups. These include UN refugee camps in Jordan, women’s groups in Nepal and textile workers in Kenya.

Roosa and Mathias share a passion for working in public space. They believe that public places gain value through public art – cultural, social, and economic value. Public art is a part of our public history and our evolving culture. It reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities. Public art humanises the built environment and invigorates public spaces. It provides an intersection between past, present and future, between disciplines, and between ideas. Public art is freely accessible and contributes to public conversations. These ideas started the conversation that evolved into the collaboration that IRIS was born out of.

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