One Million Queen was unveiled on 29th November 2018.
This unusual sculpture at Hyde Park Corner is based on Marga’s earlier work at the Ventique art gallery in Chelsea. It was meant to be launched in the summer of 2018, the idea being the bright sun would reflect the 1 million crystals used in the work. Alas it didn’t get installed until the end of November.
Despite that delay, there’s plenty enough lights around, including from the traffic, street lamps, and local buildings, to give the sculpture a good bit of glitter. In terms of actual floodlights just two of these, LED powered, are used to illuminate the work.
The artwork isn’t there to commemorate any particular Royal event, its just there to presumably accompany the other artworks that are a feature of the traffic islands this end of Park Lane. Alas Lord Byron who sits in splendid isolation, must be feeling quite miffed because everyone ignores him.
The launch took place on November 29th and it was an almost Royal affair involving a large marquee and red carpet. The event went quite unreported by London’s media however. Some pictures and a video of the launch can be seen at the sculpture’s website.
I noticed the One Million Queen from a passing bus a few days after the sculpture’s launch. Even then this new ‘Queen’ had not been fully completed – the inscription giving the artist’s name and hashtag was not installed for more than a week after the official launch.
Its a nice work, and probably the nearest one can get a commoner’s ‘Queen’ sculpture to the Palace without the need to go through extra hurdles – the site is just over 600 metres from Buckingham Palace.
Although the crystals used are fake, there are 53 real crystals within the sculpture and each represents a commonwealth country. No doubt we’ll soon see some diamond heists occurring in full view of the busy Park Lane traffic!
It seems the council is trying to give these traffic islands some more credence although its a hard task given their location. These parcels of land were once part of Hyde Park itself. Sadly road improvements have separated them from the park and the islands’ status is somewhat undefined.
The other sculptures here, the most enduring being ‘Dunamis’ the one with the elephant balancing act was sited where One Million Queen now stands. Dunamis has been moved to the other side of the traffic island.
On the weekend of the 8/9 December someone stuck ‘Brexit’ in large red lettering on the sculpture, clearly it was done in full view of many passing motorists – none of whom gave a single moment’s pause to think something amiss may have been going on. This is the problem with these traffic islands – no one seems to care about them – except when the homeless set up camps hereabouts and the authorities quickly move them off!
The sculpture’s one major problem is the location itself is quite inaccessible and largely ignored. There’s no pedestrian route to these islands – and there isn’t going to be any either. There was once a subway but its been filled in.
To get there one needs to tackle the dangerous Park Lane traffic. I have seen people come via the ramp from Mayfair underground car park opposite the Hilton Hotel, but its not meant to be a route to or from the Park Lane island. I have not done it myself however I did ask the garage office what would happen if anyone tried to go via the underground garage – they told me its not permitted and anyone would get stopped.
Basically one could walk straight across the several lanes of traffic but more often than not its a very risky crossing, its extremely rare to find any gap in the traffic. (I highlighted this difficulty in the post on Lord Byron.) The only somewhat safe route is by way of the pedestrian crossing at the Dorchester Hotel onto the middle island then walking along the edge of the busy road. Thats not even 100% safe, but as long as one is careful and aware of the traffic about them, for example lorries, wide loads, people driving too close to the kerb, that sort of thing, it should be okay.
The traffic islands in Park Lane are not out of bounds to anyone, there’s a lovely walk down the middle especially in the summer when the beautiful floral displays are present. Its just that getting to these traffic islands isn’t exactly encouraged because of the risks involved. Conversely it does seem a bit perverse to have these interesting art installations at these locations in Park Lane if they cannot be easily accessed…