Outside the A&E department of University College Hospital in the Euston Road, yet walked straight past by many people, stands a large polished pebble-shaped sculpture called Monolith & Shadow by John Aiken.
The artwork was purchased by the NHS trust & the King’s Fund for £70,000 in 2005. ‘The brief was to reflect the history and heritage of the various hospitals that have come together to create the new UCLH. The granite sculpture casts a shadow across the main entrance steps, where the names of the hospitals are engraved.’
According to the Hertfordshire Geological Society “The boulder is a conglomerate containing well rounded metamorphic and some igneous clasts ranging from pebbles to boulders in a fine crystalline matrix. There are a huge variety of clasts including schists, gneiss, mylonites, jasper, granites and serpentinites. These clasts indicate a continental collision and orogeny followed by erosion and fluvial rounding before deposition in a braided river or bar. It must then have been buried compacted with possible secondary metamorphism creating the crystalline matrix, before its final erosion. This means a history which predates the Andes and possibly starts with the Rodina continent of 1.2 billion years ago.” (but you knew that!).
John Aiken was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He completed his undergraduate and graduate studies in London at Chelsea School of Art and subsequently was awarded the Rome Scholarship in Sculpture at the British School at Rome. He was appointed to his current position as Chair Professor of Fine Arts and Director of the Academy of Visual Arts, HKBU and previously he held the Slade Chair of Fine Art and was Director of the UCL Slade School of Fine Art in London.