We are delighted to introduce the latest addition to Westminster’s cityscape: Power over others is weakness disguised as strength. A new artwork by sculptor Nick Hornby has been unveiled in the centre of Orchard Place, a new streetscape in the heart of The Broadway, Westminster SW1.

The sculpture is an impressive feat of engineering: 165 pieces of Corten steel were precisely manipulated by hand and welded together to create the 5m tall, 6.5-tonne sculpture.

Power over others is weakness disguised as strength (2023)
Nick Hornby (b. 1980)

The artwork responds to its surroundings —Westminster, a national seat of power, where sculptures of men on horseback are numerous. But if those statues celebrate power, this sculpture challenges it through two visual quotations. The first references a statue located outside the Palace of Westminster. On that site stands a nineteenth-century celebratory depiction of Richard I, unveiled during a period of Industrialisation and Imperialism. The second is a reference from Laurence Sterne’s experimental novel ‘Tristram Shandy’. In the book, a curling line suddenly interrupts the printed text. It describes a conversational gesture, where the speaker waves his stick in the air to describe the experience of freedom. The line escapes the confines of words and embodies that freedom.

The presence of that line in this sculpture invites us to think about storytelling, history and the fictions that support the figures we turn into statues. If this sculpture repeats the image of Richard I, it is to suggest the fragility of power and its monuments. After all, he is only visible from certain angles. From others, the image collapses: the figure of power is toppled within his own statue.

Nick Hornby comments “I am incredibly proud to be installing this new work in such a prominent location in the heart of Westminster. It has been an extremely exciting project to work on – both for its conceptual and its engineering challenges. My intention with Power over others is weakness disguised as strength is to contribute towards current dialogue and questions raised about the role of monuments in public spaces. From one viewpoint, the sculpture reveals an image of Richard I on horseback. But from all other angles, the image dissolves into an abstract sculpture open to interpretation. I really hope it will enrich the area, engage the public and become a positive contribution to London.”

Commissioned by Northacre, curated by Native Arts.

We invite you to Orchard Place to see Power over others is weakness disguised as strength and to consider your own interpretation of this sculptural fusion of historical references. Its mesmerizing form provokes many questions, both about the fragility and authority of public monuments, and about their interpretation: how do ideas manifest in vast forms of stone or metal, and how do viewers see public sculptures?

@nickhornbyartist | | @northacre_official | @nativeartsadvisory

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