Seven Dials

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Past Event: aberrant architecture Bring ‘Catchpenny Quackery’ To Neal Street

August 2012

For the 7 Designers for Seven Dials project, aberrant architecture have taken inspiration from Seven Dials’ varied history to create ‘Catchpenny Quackery’ on Neal Street.  

The Seven Dials area was historically a hotspot for the strange practices of “The Quacks of Old London”. These notorious fraudsters pretended to professionally and publicly have skill, knowledge or qualifications that he or she did not actually possess.

Seven Dials’ resident James Catnach was the first producer and promoter of the broadsides, songs and pamphlets which circulated through the streets of eighteenth century London. They cost a penny each, hence the term ‘catchpenny’. Catnach encountered a problem because no one else would touch his coppers in case of infection springing off the metal. His ingenious solution was to boil the pennies in potash and vinegar so that they became bright once more.

With inspiration taken directly from this true story, the new ‘Catchpenny Quackery’ installation on Neal Street in Seven Dials consists of 18 large metal pennies hanging individually within a larger frame. The metallic coins feature unique symbols that advertise the ‘quack’ products and services that used to be offered historically in Seven Dials whilst simultaneously reflecting the surrounding light and movement of the area. A key at ground level will allow passers-by to decipher the symbols and learn more about these strange and extraordinary practices.

Aberrant architecture is a multi-disciplinary studio and think-tank that operates internationally in the fields of architecture, art, design and cultural analysis. The directors of aberrant architecture, David Chambers and Kevin Haley, strive to capture the best of the past and the contemporary in order to shape the future of the designed world.

They have established a reputation for playful, provocative and interactive projects that use architecture and design to introduce new and unexpected ways of experiencing the world.  In 2010 they were architecture residents at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and in the same year co-founded The Gopher Hole, a gallery/venue in London, which through a public exhibition and talks programme provides a platform for critical debate on the arts and society. 

To see aberrant architecture’s unique installation, head to Neal Street from 14th September. To find out more about the design collective, please CLICK HERE

7 Designers for Seven Dials is a collaboration between Seven Dials, Covent Garden’s shopping village and online design magazine, Dezeen showcasing seven leading designers’ work throughout the village in conjunction with London Design Festival. For more information on the project, please CLICK HERE