Marvin Gaye Chetwynd Unveils Soft-play Sculpture At Leisure Centre

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, the Turner Prize nominated artist, has unveiled her latest project, ‘The Idol’, an artistic children’s leisure installation which is a key feature of Barking’s new £14m sports centre, was unveiled today Thursday (March 19). “I am hugely excited to be working on the soft-play commission,” Marvin said. “I am more excited about this project that I have been about anything since having a baby.”

Her two-storey climbing frame is in the form of a robot-like figure and is inspired by the Dagenham Idol, a Neolithic figure discovered in Dagenham in 1922 and one of the oldest representations of the human form to be found in Europe.

But Marvin’s idol is more than a representation of the human body – it also features chambers, ramps and levels to explore. It was commissioned by Create, which encourages artistic projects in the borough, partnered with the council.

Create’s director Hadrian Garrard said the piece was a valuable new resource for Barking families. “We are excited to be working with Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, an artist we’ve long admired,” he said. “Create exists to explore the ways artists can contribute to the lives of people in cities.”

Council leader Darren Rodwell praised Create and the installation. “Barking and Dagenham is London’s growth opportunity and we are working hard to transform Barking into east London’s cultural hub,” he said. “The work that Create is doing in our borough is helping us respect and celebrate our past.”

Marvin Gaye Chetwynd makes paintings, carnivalesque performances and sculptural installations utilising handmade costumes and sets. Chetwynd confuses the boundary between performer and spectator, creating an atmosphere of joyful improvisation.

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