Artist Alex Chinneck surprised Londoners this morning with the debut of his newest project, Take My Lightning but Don’t Steal My Thunder, at the east end of the Covet Garden Square. Look like there’s something wrong with the picture above      That’s because Chinneck’s monumental installation creates the mind-bending illusion of damages from a hypothetical lightening bolt. Forty feet in length, the sculpture “levitates” ten feet above ground, allowing the public to wander between and beneath its pillars to marvel at its craftsmanship and playful magic.    

alex-chinneck-covent-garden-market-building-london-designboom-08 alex-chinneck-covent-garden-market-building-london-designboom-02 alex-chinneck-covent-garden-market-building-london-designboom-04 alex-chinneck-covent-garden-market-building-london-designboom-06 alex-chinneck-covent-garden-market-building-london-designboom-10 alex-chinneck-covent-garden-market-building-london-designboom-11 alex-chinneck-covent-garden-market-building-london-designboom-09Chinneck is only one of a handful of contemporary artists who have made the Covent Garden Garden their place for site-specific installation. Past artists and designers include Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Banksy, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and Martha Fiennes. A street performer-populated public space in London that sits adjacent to an opera house, the Covent Garden inspired Chinneck to embrace the “performance culture” in his structure and to create something that would appeal to a broad demographic.            

Take My Lightning but Don’t Steal My Thunder pays homage to the Covent Garden Square’s late Georgian aesthetic by seamlessly integrating with the surrounding architecture. In an interview with DesignBoom, Chinneck states that, due to the ambition and scale of his projects, he often takes the role of a project manager. For Take My Lightening but Don’t Steal My Thunder, Chinneck collaborated with over one hundred people in various disciplines, including planning consultants, structural engineers, architectural consultants, steelworkers, carpenters, painters, and 3d modelers over an eight month period. For the building’s facade, Chinneck worked on a 1:1 ratio, and digitally carved polystyrene glued to twin wool. He created the floating illusion by hiding a four-ton counterweight that attaches to the top of the structure.

Chinneck is currently working on a house of wax bricks, designed to melt over the course of 30 days. The artist’s past works include Under the Weather but Over the Moon, an upside-down building, From the Knees of My Nose To the Belly of My Toes, a sagging brownstone, concrete rugs, and broken glass artworks. Working with the realm of illusion, Chinneck continues to please and shock his audiences through public art projects that bring a lighthearted surrealism to street life and city structures.

Visit Chinneck’s website for more of his physics-defying architectural experiments.