Artists and residents come together to create an ‘Illusionarium’ of sculptures to brighten up January

Level 3 of The Mercury Shopping Centre will soon be transformed into a dazzling sculpture trail, built and designed by Havering artists, residents and the Mercury Shopping Centre Team. 

Moving from a green ‘pod’ to a ‘cloud’, Illusionariumwill be opening up ‘private areas’ of the shopping centre as well as creating unique spaces for members of the public to experience. The theme of the trail ‘Journey’ expects to create a fun introduction to contemporary art for residents of Romford. 

Led by local arts Organisation ‘The NO Collective’, the ‘Illusionarium project’ has been designed and built by artists in collaboration with Havering College Students and The Mercury Mall centre team. This is one of a series of events and happenings that have been produced through ‘Havering Changing’ which is offering residentsopportunities to get more involved in creative projects through the Arts Council’s ‘Creative People and Places’fund. 

The Cloud, an installation built by ‘Bluerskies creatives’ and Havering College students is on level 4 of the centre. A space that has been unoccupied for 20 years, the cloud seeks to make an ultra -tangible environment for people to talk and connect in the colder months. 

It is the most dreamy installation out of the five, and despite the indicative name, you are still dazed by the experience when you first enter” says Natalie Bays, co-founder of The NO Collective.

The team have really worked hard on creating a specific atmosphere on level 4 and there is a huge success in how comfortable yet questioning you are of the space when inside”. 

Other installations include ‘Pop-Go’ which is a poignant light tunnel installation designed by artists through inspiration of Pop artist Peter Blake and built by and Martin Holland, The Mercury’s Maintenance Manager.The centre team have also helped with installation of all of the other artworks. 

Spencer Hawken, Centre Manager have been at the forefront of the project:

I have always been inspired by the free winter events in Central London. They are such a fantastic way for families to keep some seasonal spirit after Christmas celebrations and have an affordable day out together. I have wanted to bring something like this to Romford for years, and finally, we have all of the partnerships, skilland local interest we need to do so. I hope this is something we can host for years to come!” 

The ‘Illusionarium’ however, is still not complete. The Mercury are asking families to come to the centre on Saturday 11th January between 11am – 3pm to a family ‘make-day’ where residents can help to build the final installation – a ‘Constellation of Romford’ star-scape which will then be displayed for the duration of the sculpture trail. 

All activities as part of the Illusionarium project will be free to join in. You can also post your journey on social media by uploading images of yourself on social media and tagging #illusionarium2020. 

Illusionarium: Open every day from 4th January – 31stJanuary 2020*

Illusionarium Make-day:

Saturday 11th January, Daniel’s View Gallery, Level 3, 11am – 3pm

*Due to the nature of installation and upkeep, ‘The Cloud’ will be open at specific times throughout the month, please check for full list of opening times.

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