Local artist Martin Richman is the creator of two related artworks (See also One Whirl), both of which use Park infrastructure. Underwhirl extends the length of an underpass beneath the busy A12 road, connecting the Park with Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. Large, vibrant swirls, made from glass beads set into coloured plaster, transform what could have been a dark, uninteresting passageway into a bright, vibrant space. As you move through, the spirals seem to alter your sense of perspective through the patterns that suggest the coiling and release of energy – a suitable visual metaphor for a developing Park and the place that hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.
Richman’s practice explores our perceptions of the spaces we inhabit, and how light can change these. For him, the city is alive with accidental flourishes that sparkle or alarm, which are sometimes like jewels and at other times even irritating. Each swirl in Underwhirl is composed of hundreds of tiny glass beads, painstakingly installed over a vast scale, that glitter and shift as you walk past.
“I can get just as excited about an ugly tower block as a really exquisite space. Often it’s the small everyday things that are more interesting to me.”