9m-tall interactive sculpture challenges mental health stigma

Head Above Water installation unveiled as part of the London Design Festival

Head Above Water aims to get people talking about mental health

British designer, Steuart Padwick, has made a dramatic change to the London skyline to raise awareness of mental health problems.

As part of the London Design Festival, currently running in the capital; his 9m-high sculpture, Head Above Water, can be seen towering over London’s South Bank.

Set against panoramic views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the iconic city skyline; the installation takes the form of a giant wooden head elevated above the River Thames.

It is deliberately gender, ethnicity and age neutral and stands as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion, positivity and change for those who have come through, or are still confronting, mental health issues, and the people who support them.

It has been designed to support the Time to Change, campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

At night it will be lit and people will be able to engage with its changing colours to reflect how they are feeling through a designated Twitter feed, in real-time.

Dr Sally Marlow, engagement and impact fellow at The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London, advised on the changing colours to reflect different narratives and concepts used to describe emotions.

Consulting engineers, Hoare Lea, provided the lighting scheme.

At night, colour-changing lights relfect how people are feeling at different times

Padwick said, “Head Above Water is a symbol of hope.

“It needed to be big, powerful and prominent… a beacon of humanity caring for others.

“This is not my head or about my battles. This is for those who have or have had mental health issues.

“I want anybody and everybody to relate to it….to open a door perhaps.”

Jo Loughran, director of Time to Change, added: “Located on the bustling South Bank, Head Above Waterwill be seen by millions, prompting contemplation and encouraging conversations about mental health.

“Sadly, mental health problems are often confined to hushed conversations in quiet corners so we’re excited to support this project which proudly brings it into the light.”

Companies