Designs for 2022's Serpentine Pavilion have been revealed — and it takes its cue from chapels and the kilns of Stoke-on-Trent.
Black Chapel is the name of the latest summer pavilion, which will open in Kensington Gardens this June. The drum-shaped space, largely constructed from wood, is the vision of Chicago artist Theaster Gates and created in cahoots with Adjaye Associates (who've brought to life some eye-opening London projects, including a redesign of the notorious 'Mole Man's house' in Haggerston).
Black Chapel is so-called because it takes inspiration from the 'performative and meditative qualities of a small chapel', and will also host live performances during its time in situ.
Says Gates about his pavilion design: "The name Black Chapel is important because it reflects the invisible parts of my artistic practice. It acknowledges the role that sacred music and the sacred arts have had on my practice, and the collective quality of these emotional and communal initiatives. Black Chapel also suggests that in these times there could be a space where one could rest from the pressures of the day and spend time in quietude."
Black Chapel's form — which features a single oculus in its ceiling to usher in light — also partially mirrors the bottled-shaped kilns of Stoke-on-Trent, traditionally used to craft pottery (hence the area's nickname 'The Potteries'). Gates is known for his experimentation with clay objects, and last year told The Art Newspaper "Clay Made Me."
The Serpentine Gallery has unveiled a summer pavilion most years since 2000, with previous works from the ilk of Frank Gehry and the late Zaha Hadid. In 2004, architectural firm MVRDV's design went unbuilt, following 'time and budgetary constraints'. Designs looked remarkably similar to 2021's ill-fated Marble Arch Mound — also designed by MVRDV.
Black Chapel will be free to visit in its setting by the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens from 10 June-16 October 2022.