ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Arts and Design»
  • Sculpture, Statues & Carving

Seizure by Roger Hiorns - The Crystal Wallpaper Exhibit

Updated on October 1, 2013

Imagine walking into an abandoned apartment building and through the rundown halls and empty apartment units, until you come upon a unit whose every surface is coated in large, brilliant blue crystals. The walls are entirely coated in crystals, almost as though someone has hit a pocket of bright blue chalcanthite while splitting rocks at a collection site – except these crystals have grown inside of an abandoned and derelict man-made structure.

That is exactly the kind of presentation the London artist Roger Hiorns created when in 2008 when, after encasing the unit in a watertight steel structure to prevent leakage, he pumped approximately 80,000 gallons of copper sulfate into an abandoned London flat through a hole in the ceiling, filling it completely to the top before pumping the fluid back out. The result was that months later when Hiorns returned to his creation, blue crystals of copper sulfate had crystallized all over the floor and walls, and over every surface in the apartment. He dubbed the piece “Seizure,” and opened the exhibit to the public in September of 2008.

The piece of art was truly interactive – one could not view the exhibit without changing it in some way. The exhibit was initially open for two months, and every day hundreds of people would line up outside the abandoned building at 151-189 Harper Rd in London to see Hiorns’ creation. By the end of that time the floor had become more green than blue, because a layer of finely crushed copper sulfate crystals had become the exhibit’s new carpet. This gave the remaining brilliant blue crystals on the wall the effect of a blue, crystallized wallpaper.

When the exhibit opened again in the second half of 2009, the floor was a sea-green but every inch of the walls from floor to ceiling remained adorned in its brilliant blue copper sulfate jewelry. The exhibit was reopened in late July 2009 and remained open until early January of 2010. Attendants issued visitors rubber boots to help them navigate the rooms of the apartment unit more safely and sanitarily. Footprints on the floor collected puddles of blue liquid as the floor continued to deteriorate.


Eventually, the derelict building was condemned and slated for demolition, and plans were made to save Hiorns’ sculpture. In 2010 the organization that had originally commissioned Seizure – Artangel – began trying to figure out a way to move the 31-ton exhibit before its host building’s inevitable destruction.

It was the watertight steel structure encasing the exhibit – originally built to prevent leakage when the flat was filled with copper sulfate – which eventually saved the exhibit and made its removal possible. At an expense of around £40,000, the entire exhibit was moved to Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in February of 2011. Architects were commissioned to build a new structure to house the exhibit, and in the spring of 2013 a new chapter in the exhibit’s life began when it was once again unveiled to the public – this time in a new home.


Throughout all of this, Hiorns was pleased to sit back and watch the attempt to save his piece from the sidelines. Of course, it was his decision to let the exhibit stay where it was, or to donate it to an organization willing to pay for its removal and preservation. Hiorns said about his seizure project that “"It was always about a sense of homelessness or nomadic energy, and of inconclusiveness." He described his artistic role in the creation of the piece was passive – not to create the piece itself, but to provide the opportunity for it to exist. Sticking to this role, he donated the piece to the Arts Council Collection so it could be moved and preserved rather than destroyed along with its condemned host building.

After the successful move, Hiorns explained: "I was more than happy to complicate its future: if you have the opportunity to complicate things, then you should always take it… The object will now have an unknowable future: it will tentatively make its way in the world."


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)