An enormous 21-meter long wooden hippo floated down the Thames as part of Totally Thames, a new month-long festival exploring the cultures and communities of London’s riverside boroughs.
Its creator, the artist Florentjin Hofman, is no stranger to large, cartoonish-looking sculptures: he was also responsible for the giant inflatable ducks that have bobbed along the rivers of countries like France, Brazil, China and the U.S. since 2007. The rubber ducks, however, have been strangely ill-fated (Giant Rubber Duck Vanishes in Chinese Flood): others burst naturally during their travels last year, and one, shown in Belgium in 2009, was stabbed by vandals 42 times. The artist graduated from plastic to wood on this occasion, which should prevent bursting accidents, and he is hopeful this new project will fare better amongst the local communities.
HippopoThames is the first UK commission for the Dutch artist, who got inspired after learning that hippos used to inhabit the Thames in pre-historic times. “I am thrilled and excited to be using the Thames as the location of my first UK commission,” Hofman told the Telegraph. After its initial swim down the River, the sculpture settled at Nine Elms, on the South Bank. Access onto the sculpture is allowed for three hours a day, during the low tide.
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