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Artwork at Paddington

‘A Cloud Index’ by Spencer Finch, 2016

American artist Spencer Finch’s man-made sky in the 120-metre long roof canopy at the new Paddington station, directly above Eastbourne Terrace and Departures Road, has been created using original pastel drawings of 32 different types of clouds, which would never naturally appear together, each hand-drawn by the artist. The canopy progresses from the chunkiest cumulo nimbus through to the lightest of whispy cirrus and, when viewed from below appears to change according to the light, the direction of the sun and the time of day.

TFL Image Paddington Elizabeth line station from the urban realm 2022

These drawings were enlarged and digitally printed in white ceramic frit across 180 glass panels.  Finch's cloudscape is longer than a football field and has the dual purpose of reducing solar glare into the station.

A Cloud Index - In situ

“I like that it is very big but that it also has a light touch. The artwork is totally integrated into the station and into the purpose of the glazing of the canopy, as there would have had to have been some sort of diffusing pattern or it would have been too bright. So it ended up serving the dual purpose of creating an artwork and also reducing the glare."
- Spencer Finch

Inspiration for the artwork came from 19th century English romantic landscape painting from the likes of John Constable, who recorded clouds at different times of the day and year, a process Constable termed 'Skying'. 

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“The artwork exists both as an artificial cloudscape and as a homage to the British obsession with categorizing and systematizing the most fugitive of natural phenomena. Since Luke Howard first created a nomenclature for clouds in 1803, the efforts to comprehend and quantify clouds have been both beautiful and quixotic, and clouds always seem to stay one step ahead of human understanding.”
- Spencer Finch


Sponsor: Heathrow Airport & the City of London Corporation

Gallery partner: Lisson Gallery