Compost Mandala: Lewis Cubitt Park Intervention


Site: Lewis Cubitt Park, King's Cross

Compost Mandala was part of a group assignment to stage a series of interventions within the newly constructed "natural" space of Lewis Cubitt Park, within King's Cross. As the park was surrounded by panoramic images of parkland to disguise the construction sites on either side, the group decided to explore the use of reflection and illusion so as to deconstruct or make obvious the artificiality of the space. The works also investigated the use of control over nature seen in the highly maintained landscape of the park. It brought up the question of how nature is effected by gentrification, and whether this is reflective of how it effects people.

A mandala represents cycles, constant change, progress or infinite connections and is used in India to welcome people into the home. Compost Mandala is a Celtic triskele motif, meaning "three legs", which depicts the the holy triad: life-death-rebirth, spirit-mind-body, past-present-future, creation-preservation-destruction. King's Cross is believed to be the site of Boudicca's battle against the Romans, and hence, the symbol references the areas history. It is also a act of welcoming people into the new space, asking them to be comfortable there, and blessing them.

The motif was installed by the artist hand scattering compost onto the grass. For the duration of an hour, the group performed their interventions for an audience. Towards the end of this time, maintenance staff requested that the mandala be removed immediately. The only reason given being "the landscapers won't like it". This active creation and destruction of the work only strengthened its reference to impermanence and change. Mandalas are typically left to be enacted upon by the elements until nature removes them. Tibetan monks spend weeks working on intricate sand mandalas which, once completed, are washed away in a river. This teaches a sacred lesson of "impermanence". The only difference being, in this case, that Compost Mandala was enacted upon by social constructs of order and hierarchy. Nature had been replaced by these constructs.