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Mark Leckey's M53 Motorway Bridge at Tate Britain

Date:  September 2019

Requirements:

  • Exhibition works
  • Creation of M53 Motorway Bridge
  • Close coordination with the artist Mark Leckey and the exhibition's curator to create the artwork
  • Coordination of trade specialists
  • Interior design and decorating
  • AV installations

Tate Britain required competent and skilled contractors to create Mark Leckey's ambitious exhibition "O' Magic Power of Bleakness". The principal challenge was to create precisely the M53 Motorway Bridge so that the gallery visitor would feel as if they were in the underpass as they experienced the installation.

The project included the additional challenge of building a slope as part of the underpass, and ensuring that all av equipment had minimum impact on the exhibit.

What did MC Designers do?

Given the complexity of the exhibition MC Designers the initial meeting with Mark Leckey and the curator took place almost a year prior to the start date of the exhibiton. Following this initial meeting 3D drawings were created so that both Mark Leckey and Tate Britain could see how the build would work, the space that it created, and the experience that visitors would have as they moved around it. Ensuring that the pre-build proposals met the artist's and curator's expectations was key to facilitating a project build in under 3 weeks.

Architectural engineers provided drawings to facilitate the build of the bridge and photographs of the M53 bridge from all angles were taken to ensure that the underpass mirrored as accurately as possible the actual area.

Throughout the project, the team from MC Designers completed the:

  • Removal of 100m linear walls to create space for exhibiton (12 galleries combined),
  • Provision of suspended steel ceiling to make bridge sub grid,
  • Installation of a concealed monolithic metal frame suspended ceiling system,
  • Hanging of plasterboard to create shuttered concrete appearance,
  • Infill of spaces between ceiling plasterboard with the exception of one section where a 70° angle boxed section was created for an LED light unit to sit in.
  • Installation of speakers in ceiling, sprayed to blend with ceiling, and soundproofed so sound does not transmit to other galleries,
  • Construction of the wood and steel frame of the underpass' ramp to include AV area,
  • Fixing of canvas and perspex screen,
  • Creation of ramp incuding painiting of plasterboard prior to installation, and then fixing of boards in place,
  • Engineering 45° ramp to facilitate safe erection of ramp panels,
  • Erection of 3 columns of bridge to incorporate AV, including wires and projectors,
  • Erection within columns and ceiling of 3 AV Projectors,
  • Co-ordinated works with with the scenic painter who painted the bridge to create replicate M53 underpass,
  • Hanging of posters to give dishevelled look,
  • Co-ordination of all works with art handlers,
  • Restoration of galleries to original state.

Results

The Tate Britain benefitted from a completed exhibition that looked authentic and combined sound and vision in line with Mark Leckey's design.

Mark Leckey was moved to tears on seeing the finished exhibit and said "it's just how I remember it".