Hyperaccumulator by Simon Periton

‘Hyperaccumulator’ is a series of permanent public artworks by artist Simon Periton. Forming part of our public art strategy for Osiers Road, within Wandsworth’s wider Riverside Quarter development, these sculptural works seek to help re-establish the area’s historic connection to the river, by drawing inspiration from the rich local natural heritage and drawing this in to a new public square.

Osiers Road, now owned and managed by Peabody, is the final development of Riverside Quarter – a strategic Thames riverside regeneration area just north of Wandsworth town centre. A number of public artworks were commissioned across the wider area, which we felt provided an opportunity to develop a strategy for place-specific pieces, that can extend the public art trail, integrate into the new public realm and involve local communities in the process.

To align with the development’s timeline, our strategy encompassed a large-scale temporary hoarding artwork to brighten and enliven the street scene during construction in 2021-22, followed by a set of permanent public artworks, as a playful reflection of the site’s rich river and natural heritage.

Both elements of the strategy have sought to encourage local footfall passing by and through this new public square on Osiers Road. Alongside our public art outcomes, this will provide a new planted pedestrian route, enhancing the public realm by adding colour and helping to build a sense of identity and a focal area in Riverside Quarter.

Opportunities inspired by the site's rich river and natural heritage

Working with the developer Hollybrook Homes, with the design team and Wandsworth Council, we produced the initial public art vision for the scheme in 2018. Following planning approval and onward sale of the scheme to Peabody, we devised a detailed delivery plan for the public art strategy and worked closely with the council’s cultural team to develop a detailed commissioning process.

We identified an artist longlist and following feedback edited to a shortlist of contemporary artists, some with substantial experience and some who are at an earlier career stage particularly in developing their public practice. Artists were interviewed and selected by a steering group that we coordinated and guided, representing all project partners; the client Hollybrook, development partner Peabody, project landscape architect Fabrik and Wandsworth Council’s cultural team.

As part of our in-depth commissioning process, we developed a detailed artists brief. Alongside project constraints and budget, this set out relevant context about the scheme, the area and heritage influences. These include the site’s strong natural and river connections, which emerged at the forefront of our research, exemplified by Osiers Road itself, which borrows its name from osier withies – strong, flexible willow stems. These willow plants grew in abundance along this stretch of River Thames from the 18th century and were woven locally to create baskets and willow bucks, which were used to capture eels.

For the initial phase of the strategy, we worked closely with Wandsworth Council to connect with a local primary school. Simon collaborated with two Year 5 classes from Brandlehow Primary School to create his large-scale temporary hoarding artwork – his first work of this kind.

Through a series of creative digital workshops during Covid-19, the students explored the local heritage of the Thames and Wandle rivers and were shown how to experiment with hands-on techniques including paper-cutting and weaving. These reference how the willow that grew historically in the area, was cut and woven into baskets, known as bucks, which were used to catch eels.

Hoarding artwork

“We are overjoyed at the end result and absolutely love how much the childrens’ work features. The children loved their time with Simon and really enjoyed completing the research and art activities that he set. We are really pleased that we had the opportunity to work with a professional artist, as projects like this are invaluable to the children.”

Christopher Goymer & Rachel Roberts,
Yr 5 Teachers, Brandlehow Primary School, SW18

Their works – including painting, collage, weaving and poetry – were integrated by Simon into a cohesive collaborative artwork, framed by his cut-out basket weave design. This results in a colourful, heritage inspired design, for residents and passers-by to enjoy during the construction of what is now known as Willow Walk.

Entitled Anguilla Anguilla, the Latin name for European eels, the artwork references the species’ migration between the Sargasso Sea in the US and European rivers during their lifecycle. The artwork reflects the migration of people to and from London, and the importance of the natural environment over time and for our wellbeing today, as emphasised by the Covid-19 pandemic. Passers-by were invited to share their favourite parts of the artwork via social media.

Hoarding artwork detail, inspired by local willow and eel heritage

“Hollybrook is delighted that despite the pandemic, it’s been possible to work very closely with local young people to create such a vibrant artwork for our hoarding.”

Jonathon Broscombe, Development Director
Hollybrook Homes

During 2021, we project managed the development and production of Simon’s permanent public artworks. Now installed at Willow Walk, Osiers Road, Hyperaccumulator brings together a family of weathered corten steel artworks, that continue to remember the historic importance of willow planting to the area and unite the public realm, enhancing the walking route through.

Our ongoing collaboration with Simon, the client, design team and construction contractor, ensured that we were ableto develop a sensitive yet durable design response to the context, while ensuring that the work was approved for planning, fabricated and installed on site to time.

The artworks’ title Hyperaccumulator references willow plants’ ability to absorb and extract high concentrations of contaminants from the surrounding soil and water. This cleansing process is called Phytoremediation and helps to support a healthier ecosystem.

“Hyperaccumulator consists of a set of permanent sculptures carefully positioned along Willow Walk. Its title references the cleansing properties of the willow plants that traditionally grew around the area. The positioning of the individual sculptural elements is planned to encourage and reward pedestrian navigation of the site.”  

Simon Periton, Artist

The first work is a tall, fossilised willow leaf that acts as a welcoming entry to the new public square. This offers a nod to both the history of cutting and weaving baskets from osier withies, and the stories explored by the temporary artwork. Complete with ‘eyes’, The Weaverwatches over the area, and welcomes residents and visitors. The installation is lit up at night, to add a sense of safety and surveillance.

The second artwork – The Bucks – features three linked corten steel tree grilles, set into the landscaping. In reference to the community designed hoarding artwork, the functional, latticedesign emulates an abstract basket weave design, and filters the surface water, allowing the trees to burst through. The weathered tan colour of the Corten brings a warmth and added materiality to the public square that contrasts with the concrete and brick scheme.

“It was rewarding to deliver the varied artworks in collaboration with artist Simon Periton, and keep the project moving during Covid-19. The collaborative nature of the design development with local young people gave them a creative focus during lockdown, and both the permanent and temporary artworks have given an instant uplift to the area.”

Susie Gray, Cultural Associate, Dallas-Pierce-Quintero

The works were launched at a community event in May 2023 at which local residents and families were able to meetwith the artist, find out more about the project, and take part in weaving activities to mark the artworks’ arrival and the site’s heritage. It’s hoped the artworks will be enjoyed by the local community and people passing through the area.

On completion of the scheme, the hoarding artwork panels were relocated to Brandlehow Primary school where they remain on public display. They continue to be enjoyed by the community of the school whose students enjoyed a return visit by Simon Periton to share with them his final pieces, building their understanding of professional arts practice and the role of public art in the public realm.


Osiers Road, Wandsworth, London
Hollybrook Homes in association with Peabody & Wandsworth Council
Photography: Katie Morrison & Heather Sibly
Courtesy of the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London

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