Between Tooley Street and the riverfront, look up to see Couple, positioned above and in front of The Hilton at 5A More London Place, sited on the north side of Tooley Street to face towards the historic Shipwrights Arms.
Stephen Balkenhol’s Couple is located high above street level, prompting us to look up. The individual sculptures of a man and a woman are set apart but are clearly a couple. Each carved figure is painted with a simple and economic range of colours to highlight facial features and clothing. The male sculpture is dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, referencing local office workers, and is placed on a tall plinth, while the female figure is a short distance away on the same eye level, positioned on a low roof.
Commissioned by More London Estates (now London Bridge City).
Stephan Balkenhol is a contemporary German artist known for his painted statues of the human form. His totem-like sculptures of everyday people are reminiscent of both folk art and medieval sculpture, and his process advances the longstanding tradition of woodcarving in Germany. He uses a variety of woods, including poplar and Douglas fir, and crafts each work from single blocks using hammers, power saws, and chisels, working with speed and retaining the chisel marks.
Balkenhol has completed many public commissions throughout his career, including Head of a Man / Figure on a Buoy, a 1992 site-specific installation by Blackfriars Bridge, not far from here. A monumental head was placed on an obsolete bridge pillar and downstream a smaller, life-sized figure was attached to a buoy.