The Friendly Army – Pegasus


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The Friendly Army – WWI Commemorative Sculpture Project by Gabor Stark and East Kent Railway Trust, Shepherdswell & Eythorne, Kent, 2014-16

Part of the WWI DMAG Joined Up project, organised by DAD Dover Arts Development Ltd., funded by Kent County Council & Arts Council England

Pegasus, the last sculpture of my World War I commemorative project at East Kent Railway, was installed this week. The now complete Friendly Army consists of six sited sculptures that trace the connections of the East Kent Railway heritage line to the history of WWI. Constructed out of materials that were found on site the sculptures mark the thresholds and crossings between the remaining line and its surrounding landscape. The sculptural pioneers guard and survey the tracks, visually re-establish the former links with the East Kent collieries, and guide visitors and passers-by along a sequence of selected stations and situations.

Pegasus marks the northern end of the remaining EKR line and is placed on the surviving brick abutment of Wigmore Lane Bridge, which once continued to the adjacent Tilmanstone Colliery. The sculpture takes its inspiration from the German airplanes that flew via Shepherdswell to Dover during the last Moonlight Raid on England in May 1918.

“The last moonlight raid on England took place Whit-Sunday night, 19th – 20th May 1918. Gunfire at Dover opened at 10.50 p.m., and continued vigorously until 11.15 p.m. A quarter of an hour later the machine which had been trying to get in flew down the valley from Shepherdswell at quite a low height, and, although fired at, passed under the barrage and dropped four of the heaviest bombs that ever fell on Dover. The first hit the middle of the roadway in Widred Road, Tower Hamlets, doing a great deal of damage to the surrounding property; two more were dropped together opposite Priory Hill Villas, Priory Hill, one falling in the roadway, and the other just inside the Ordnance Department fence. Both did a great deal of damage to the houses, stripping off the tiles, bringing down ceilings, etc. Fortunately, beyond a slight injury to Miss Joad, of 6, Priory Hill Villas, no one was hurt, although the inhabitants of those houses and the ones in Tower Hamlets were a good deal shaken by the terrific concussion of the explosion. The fourth bomb, which did not explode, fell in the Priory Station Yard, near the turntable. This machine, it is believed, was brought down in the sea by our guns. At midnight there was prolonged firing at another enemy machine, apparently one of the giant machines with four or five engines. Ultimately it was hit and brought down in the sea, the body of one of its occupants, a squadron commander, wearing the Order of Merit, the highest German Order, being picked up the next day, and afterwards buried at St. James’s Cemetery. At 12.40 a.m. an enemy machine dropped six bombs at St. Margaret’s, which fell on either side of Sea Street, St. Margaret’s, almost in exactly the same holes as were made in the raid in February. Another half dozen were dropped on the Swingate Aerodrome, without doing any damage. These were the last bombs dropped on England.”

Bavington Jones, O.G.: Dover and the European War, 1914-18. Originally published in the Dover Express, 1919

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Finally Unfinished Ruins – Surreal Estates Of Failed Speculation



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eVolo 2017 Skyscraper Competition

Entry by Gabor Stark, 2017


‘Finally Unfinished Ruins’ inverts the conventional relationship between the physical presence of tall buildings and the financial potency of property developers and their underlying economic systems. Whereas vertical building typologies – the spire, the tower, the skyscraper – normally both stem from, and at the same time represent, cultural, political and ideological regimes and their economic power, this project postulates the inverted logic: What if there was an architectural expression of the absence of capital and resources?

The nine towers depict a paradoxical San Gimignano of folly investment, financial debacle and speculative failure. Each collage is derived from the photograph of an abandoned construction site. The original investment ruins were found in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, but could as well originate from other parts of the world. The situations as found are variations on the theme of the global-banal and modern-mediocre vernacular, ubiquitous mutations of Le Corbusier’s Dom-ino House: Naked skeletons, partially filled with brick walls; concrete floors and roof slabs; unfinished staircases; the bare bones of a house; the half-built nightmare of what was supposed to be a dream family home.

In all montages one element of the existing situation is multiplied, rotated and stacked in order to transcend the conditions of incompleteness, pause and failure into an alternative speculative proposition. The composite constructions exist exclusively as digital images. Freed from the constraints of gravity, materiality and economic common sense, they explore a pataphysical [1] architecture of autonomy in which the picture plane is the only limit. The implausible tectonics and false perspectives that result from repeating and shifting the fragments of the photographic material confirm the status of the towers as pure projections.

This pangeometric [2] photosurrealism affirms the intentional absurdity of the ‘finally unfinished’ [3] structures and locates them in the realms of the speculative arts as well as an alternative architecture of speculation. More reminiscent of Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’ than Sullivan’s ‘proud and soaring thing’ [4], more a Beckettian way of building for Godot than normative architectural practice, the towers present melancholic monuments to ruined investment, to be repeated ad infinitum. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” [5]


[1] As in ‘Phataphysics, the literary trope by the French symbolist writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907)

[2] For Pangeometry see El Lissitzky: “A. and Pangeometry”, 1925

[3] In 1923, Marcel Duchamp famously declared his ‘Large Glass’ as “finally unfinished”

[4] Louis Henry Sullivan: “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered”, 1896

[5] Quoted from Samuel Beckett’s novella “Worstward Ho”, 1983