In the coming weeks, artist Lucy Sparrow is making mini versions of London’s iconic buildings out of felt. As part of our new Ministructures series, in which we interview Londoners with a connection to the big buildings of the capital, we chat to Victoria Henry, 32, Digital campaigner for oceans at Greenpeace and climber of The Shard and introduce her to our Mini-Shard.
What was it like climbing the Shard?
‘We had laughs on the way up. Most of the team aren’t from London, and because I’m from Canada we were testing eachother on what landmarks we could see. I was like, “I think that’s St Paul’s?” It was embarrassing. We were singing, too – “Ain’t no mountain high enough.”’
Weren’t you scared you might fall off?
‘Our friends down at the bottom were crying with worry, but we were fine. We were training for two months, and all of us are experienced climbers. It helped that we were connected – we were tweeting and receiving messages from people. Workmen inside the Shard were giving us the thumbs up and showing us coverage of the climb on the screens of their phones. London was behind us!’
Why did you do it?
‘We were protesting about Shell’s drilling in the Arctic, and wanted a place where they’d be able to see us from their window of their HQ. And it helps that the Shard’s the biggest and most iconic building in London.’
You must feel pretty attached to it now.
‘I am. When I see the Shard on the horizon, I see a monument to what people can achieve together – joy, success and happiness. My gran, who’s really old, was following the climb but didn’t really understand it – she thought I was protesting against the building because I thought it was ugly. But I love the Shard – I think it’s beautiful.’
‘I covet it greatly.’
What do you do when you’re not hanging off the side of buildings?
‘I go to Mile End Climbing Wall three times a week – it’s great. And I love the water. The two days after the climb were the best ever. I went to Hampstead Heath ladies bathing pond, and all the worry, stress and dreams about falling just melted away. What else do I do? I cycle a lot. I also do ballet in Shoreditch. I’m terrible. I’m not even joking. Absolutely terrible. My teacher is like, “What’s your problem?”’
What do you love most about London?
‘It’s the people that keep you here. And there’s always so much on, so much to do. I moved here five years ago because I wanted to have an adventure, and that’s what I got.’
Interview: Flo Wales Bonner