Last September I found myself gazing at the sunset over the London skyline. I was on the roof of Peckham’s multi-storey car park. There’s a multiplex cinema at the front, and the top three floors are home to a summer pop-up bar and sculpture show. The thought struck me that my next diorama project should be a ruin – a post apocalyptic diorama – and why not choose the very building I’m standing on…? My art practice employs architectural model-making to create photographic narratives and the idea of an overgrown but recognisable (at least to the people of Peckham) future ruin appealed. So here is my large-scale diorama of a post-apocalyptic Peckam…
Guest post by Nick Cobb
I photographed the car park inside and out and drew up some basic plans to a 1/60 scale, and then got cracking with building the diorama. Unlike previous models – which are broken up after photographing them – I intended to exhibit this one, so it was constructed in sections to be more easily transported. I scavenged some of the model-making materials myself, like insulation board and polystyrene foam from skips. Foam board is a good construction material for all the car park floors and train set trees and other plant material can be bought easily enough. Despite contemplating the destruction of London and beyond, I’m an optimistic character and planned the inclusion of modelled cherry trees blossoming in springtime. The build took several months to complete and as I worked on the details I found my thoughts drifting to who might live there and how they might cope, if the world as we know it ever were to collapse.
I imagined that survivors of an apocalyptic event had returned to the cities to scavenge and trade. The back end of the multi-storey car park has remained intact and provides a secure site on its roof for an outpost settlement. Corrugated iron has been scavenged for makeshift building material, and the inhabitants have skills enough to construct a windmill, grow food and make charcoal.
The model is finished now, and is a huge eight feet long, four feet wide and two feet tall. I have enjoyed taking a number of photographs of it, but the diorama was built to be exhibited and it will be in Peckham in September.
For more of Nick Cobb’s wonderful dioramas and other art projects, explore his website www.nickcobb.co.uk . All images on this post © Nick Cobb. I’m personally thrilled by the fact that since we made contact with each other, Nick has added to his diorama two survivors stumbling across a copy of The Knowledge amongst the wreckage, seen in the bottom image here.