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Artist Christo's Floating Barrels on a Lake

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The ducks and geese at a lake in London’s Hyde Park have a new neighbor: a floating structure of 7,506 barrels in the colors of red, mauve and blue.

The floating structure, called “The London Mastaba,” is the latest creation of Christo. He is the Bulgarian artist who wrapped Berlin’s historic Reichstag building in silver; let people walk on water with the floating piers in Italy; and decorated New York’s Central Park with colorful cloth gates.

Christo’s latest work rises 20 meters above the surface of the park’s Serpentine Lake. The artwork weighs nearly 600,000 kilograms. The colors were chosen to go with the green grass and gray-blue sky of London.

It was inspired by ancient Mesopotamian benches and Egyptian tombs. “Mastaba” is the Arabic word for bench.

Christo and his late partner, Jeanne-Claude, first dreamed of a floating mastaba in 1967. They planned it for Lake Michigan in the United States. Fifty years later, it has finally arisen in London.

The artist has been planning an even bigger version: a mastaba in the Abu Dhabi desert. It would be made from 410,000 barrels and rise 150 meters to become the largest sculpture in the world.

Like Christo’s other works, “The London Mastaba” is temporary. It will float on the lake until September 23. The sculpture will then be torn down. And all the barrels will be recycled.

Lucia Halpern of Hyde Park watched the work being built over two months. She said her dog Coco was a fan “because it keeps the ducks away and she can go in the water.” But she declared herself “a bit disappointed” by the structure.

“The only thing I find beautiful about it is the reflection in the water,” she said. “Maybe that’s the point. It’s quite pretty when it gets the light and puts these magenta and pink colors on the water.”

I’m Caty Weaver.

A family of swans sit by The Serpentine in front of a sculpture made of oil barrels being constructed by artist Christo, in Hyde Park in London, Monday, June 11, 2018.
A family of swans sit by The Serpentine in front of a sculpture made of oil barrels being constructed by artist Christo, in Hyde Park in London, Monday, June 11, 2018.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on AP news reports. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

mauve - n. a light or medium purple color

pier - n.​ a structure that goes out from a shore into the water, usually used as a place for ships to load and unload people or things, or as a place where people can walk.

decorate - v. to make (something) more attractive usually by putting something on it​

bench - n.​ a long and usually hard seat for two or more people​

tomb - n.​ a building or chamber above or below the ground in which a dead body is kept​

sculpture - n.​ a piece of art that is made by carving or molding clay, stone, metal, etc.​

inspire - v. to give someone an idea about what to do or create

disappointed - adj. displeased because something was not as good as expected

reflect - v. to show the image of (something) on a surface​

quite - adj. to a very noticeable degree or extent​

pretty - adj. pleasant to look at or listen to​

magenta - n. a bright, deep puplish-red color

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