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Made in White City

The Concrete Poetry of Robert Montgomery

Artist, poet and cultural agitator Robert Montgomery has unveiled a new public-facing work outside of Hammersmith Town Hall, musing on the building's history and its identity as a piece of modernist architecture.


If you don't know Robert Montgomery by name, the chances are you'll still be familiar with his work by sight. The Scottish-born, London-based artist is best known for his site-specific installations – works of illumination, both literally through neon sculpture and figuratively through the text those lights are moulded into and made to made to create.

A particular favourite among the Tumblr generation, Montgomery has transcended the confines of his digital fanbase and its intangible aesthetics in making reblog-friendly art in possession of the rare quality of physical presence. And, while the tropes of the digital world permeate his interdisciplinary art – works that melt down such distinct medias as sculpture, poetry and photography, and are defined by an earnestness that owes a great deal to both the now-defunct alt-lit movement and the work of the American conceptualist Jenny Holzer – it is their imminence that sets them apart.

Having displayed his work at seafronts, amongst mountainscapes, and within the reverberating walls of abandoned swimming pools, Montgomery's public art has now found its way to West London. Commissioned by The Lyric Hammersmith and Fulham Council, 'Hammersmith Poem’ explores "modernist and cultural ideals set amidst the iconic brutalism of Hammersmith Town Hall." Beyond its titular ambitions, the work itself was created specifically with the building in mind, and in an interview with The Quietus, Montgomery explains its significance: "To me, modernism is a set of values, not a style. The architecture of Hammersmith Town Hall is so perfectly modernist that it became the natural place to blow up my idea on a larger scale.”

If, as Montgomery says, "The point of art, is to touch the hearts of strangers, without the trouble of ever having to meet them," this public-facing work has the hallmarks of rising to meet that challenge.

Homepage image Robert Montgomery – 'All Palaces' (Docks Art Fair Lyon), Header – 'Hammersmith Poem' (photo via Hammersmith London), Body – 'Hammersmith Poem' (photos via Hammersmith & Fulham)

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