05 April 2019
James Capper Launches New Mobile Sculpture
British artist James Capper will unveil his new large-scale mobile sculpture MUDSKIPPER as
this year’s Powerhouse Commission, an annual commission at Battersea Power Station.
MUDSKIPPER is a fully-mobile sculpture (9.2 metres in length and 12 tons in weight) which
has the ability to move across water and land on-shore through the use of two step-type
propulsion legs. Inspired by the ingenuity of early invertebrates, and echoing the brave leaps
made by those into a new and unknown world, MUDSKIPPER challenges and invigorates the
definitions of engineering and art and the interconnections between the two.
MUDSKIPPER’s ability to change its environment, combined with its hydraulic system of landbased
locomotion, gives the sculpture a brave and exigent new character on the water. In line
with Capper’s practice, the amphibian sculpture explores the dynamic between biological
ingenuity, biomechanics and the human. MUDSKIPPER also points to a greater journey or
mission, one that recalls the eccentric personas of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo or Wes
Anderson’s Steve Zissou, confronting the precarity of human existence and our contemporary
Supported by Nine Elms on the South Bank and in conjunction with the 2018 Year of
Engineering, StudioRCA will host WALKING SHIP, a special exhibition of James Capper’s
work and a visual synopsis of the MUDSKIPPER project.
Researched, drawn and developed over the course of a decade, the exhibition WALKING
SHIP brings together drawings, maquettes and component sculpture to chronicle the
conceptual, aesthetic and technical evolution of MUDSKIPPER, departing the artist’s mind
and studio, advancing into the world as a fully-realised mobile work.
Evocative of odysseys such as Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014) or Terry Gilliam’s Lost in La
Mancha (2003), the works on display present a distinct iconography and artist’s storyboard of
the project, spoken through the gentle and ambiguous voice of Capper’s playful nearfuturism.
The exhibition WALKING SHIP is open to the public at StudioRCA until Monday 22 April,
before the fully-realised MUDSKIPPER takes up residency at Battersea Power Station, where
it will be moored at the Pier directly in front of the iconic riverside building from mid-May 2019.
MUDSKIPPER will make special performances throughout May and June, when it travels
down the River Thames and walks out of the water at certain points of low tide.
Honor Fishburn, Placemaking Director at Battersea Power Station Development
“We are delighted to announce James Capper’s MUDSKIPPER as our 2019
Powerhouse Commission. The Powerhouse Commission is an annual commission honouring
our ongoing commitment to support British and international artists by providing them with a
unique outdoor platform to show their work.”
“This work is particularly relevant to the Power Station given its location on the Thames, where
once hundreds of workboats would have delivered coal to the building. It will be great to see
MUDSKIPPER moored in front of the Power Station and we hope to make the sculpture a long
term fixture on our jetty in due course.”
Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said:
“We’re excited to welcome this interesting mix of engineering and art to the riverside at Nine Elms. This area of
Wandsworth is undergoing its own evolution from an industrial area into a new town centre, so it is
wonderful that we have co-commissioned this transformation of a fishing boat into a walking
sculpture. I’m sure it will prove as fascinating to local residents as it will to people visiting
Battersea Power Station pier where it will be moored between performances.”
Kirsten Dunne, Senior Strategy Officer, Culture and the Creative Industries, Mayor of
“I was so delighted to hear about MUDSKIPPER. James Capper is a hugely
innovative and exciting artist and we are very happy to endorse the project.”
Follow @BatterseaPwrStn to keep up with the latest news and events at Battersea Power
Station and visit batterseapowerstation.co.uk to find out more.
Follow @NineElmsTeam to keep up with events and activities throughout Nine Elms and visit
nineelmslondon.com/arts-and-culture for more information about the WALKING SHIP
exhibition at StudioRCA.