Dezeen Magazine

Sarah Sze globe piece at Peckham Rye station Victorian waiting room

Sarah Sze designs artwork for hidden Victorian waiting room at London train station

New York-based artist Sarah Sze has created a large-scale art installation in a vaulted space above Peckham Rye station that had been boarded up for the last 50 years.

Once a large Victorian waiting room, the space was closed to the public in 1962, with Sze's installation one of the first times it has been used in more than half a century.

Bird murmuration display at Sarah Sze installation
The central piece resembles an open globe

Named Metronome, the artwork comprises an illuminated sphere-shaped piece that hangs at the centre of the installation, surrounded by a scaffolding-like structure of thin steel rods.

Within the metal framework, a series of flickering images are projected onto a collage of torn white paper. Cast from 42 video projectors, the fragmented footage shows various scenes, including a coin trick, a glacier melting, a volcano erupting and a bird murmuration.

Behind the central piece, white wire designed to look like "overgrown branches" surrounds a wooden desk, while revolving projectors loop images around the walls and ceiling of the waiting room.

Sound recordings of trains and a ticking clock are played alongside the moving images.

Artist Sarah Sze and overgrown wire branches at Peckham Rye Waiting Room exhibition
Sarah Sze created the site-specific installation for the waiting room at Peckham Rye Station

The Waiting Room installation builds upon an ongoing series of works that Sze refers to as Timekeepers. This is intended to explore how we experience space and time in the context of today's technology and the centrality of images to our everyday lives.

"We are in the middle of an extreme hurricane where we are learning to speak through images at an exponential pace," the artist said.

Designed by architect Charles Driver, Peckham Rye station in south London was first opened in 1865. In 1922, its waiting room was repurposed as a billiard room before being closed four decades later.

The recent refurbishment of the old waiting room is part of the wider ongoing regeneration of Peckham Rye station and the area surrounding it.

Other art installations that make use of public or closed-off spaces include an exhibition in a derelict São Paulo building and an installation in Melbourne's Flinders Street Station with a focus on its industrial past.

The photography is by Thierry Bal.

Sarah Sze: The Waiting Room takes place from 19 May to 17 September 2023 at The Old Waiting Room, Peckham Rye Station, London, SE15 4RX. For more events, exhibitions and talks in architecture and design visit Dezeen Events Guide.