It feels like everyone's world has been turned upside-down over the past couple of years. But — being a pioneer in all things — our city has long had a penchant for the inverted.
Below are some of our favourite topsy-turvy sights in this multidimensional city.
1. The World Turned Upside Down, London School of Economics
Artist Mark Wallinger has made quite an impression on London. His was the first artwork to grace Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth. Millions see his handiwork every day across the tube network, where almost every tube station carries one of his labyrinth designs. His most-Instagrammed work, though, is surely The World Turned Upside Down, on the LSE campus (see top image and above). It comprises a globe turned on its head, but with the place name labels correctly oriented. This ingenious yet seemingly innocuous work drew controversy when students protested the status of Taiwan on the globe, which had been shown as a sovereign nation.
2. The upside-down house, Blackfriars Road
It pays to look up in London. Thousands of people must have walked past this facade without giving it a second thought. But once you do, it immediately becomes clear that something is amiss. The doors are at the top, the support arches are at the wrong end of the windows, the drainpipe drains upwards and even the For Sale sign is about-face.
The subtle piece of architectural art, known as Under the weather but over the moon, was the work of Alex Chinneck. It stood near Blackfriars Bridge for just two years before demolition. Chinneck has form with peculiar street interventions. In 2015, he installed an upside-down car on the South Bank. He's also given us ruptured columns, tangled post boxes, and a facade cracked open in Fulham. And then we have this...
3. The overturned pylon of North Greenwich
Alex Chinneck's most famous work may well be this inverted pylon in Greenwich. Known as A Bullet From A Shooting Star, it forms part of The Line art trail through North Greenwich and along the River Lea. We discovered more about this electrifying sculpture in another article.
4. Bethnal Green memorial
And now to a more sobering structure. Anyone using the south-east entrance to Bethnal Green tube station cannot help but notice this unique memorial — a set of brown steps cantilevered out over the subway. The inverted stairway recalls the horrific tragedy that unfolded here in 1943, when 173 people lost their lives during a crush to get into the station, then in use as an air-raid shelter. It remains one of the worst disasters in London's history, but was only marked with a simple plaque until this 'Stairway to Heaven' was unveiled in 2017.
5. A random assortment of further upside-down stuff
Once you start looking for the inverted, you find it everywhere. Here are a few further examples.
All images by the author.