Hofman’s Hippopo Hits the Thames

11 September 2014

There is usually something new to see in London every day but this week there was a new addition on the River Thames unusual even by the standards of the English capital.  There was no need, either, to be particularly eagle-eyed to spot this visitor to one of the world’s most well-known waterways.   While Battersea’s famous power station is usually associated with flying pigs, thanks to the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1977 Animals album, this week it was a 21 meter long floating hippo which caught the attention of those taking a stroll down the river.

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, best known perhaps for the giant rubber duck which has been nonchalantly sailing in to harbors the world over for the last seven years, decided to create something a little different for this year’s Totally Thames Festival.

Image Credit Socarra
Unsurprisingly, the river police arrived to inspect the Hippopo's impact on the waterway.

Image Mike T Photography
Image Credit Nic Gould
Named Hippopo, the enormous floating sculpture, semi-immersed so that it flows with the Thames’ tides, is the artist’s first commission in England.  Weighing in at 28 tonnes, its final destination will be Nine Elms on the South Bank of the river where it will no doubt find a few new friends among the current denizens of the Thames.

Image Credit  Matt from London
Image Credit Nic Gould
Sadly, it is unlikely that Hippopo will find any company among his own species, despite the fact that it was Hofman’s discovery that ‘river horses’ used to live along the river that inspired the creation of the humungous hippo.  They either left or became locally extinct around 125,000 years ago.

Image Credit Mike T
Hippopo will never be alone, for sure, with nine million humans for company.  Yet one cannot help but ponder on his future unbearable loneliness, pining for a mate which will never come lumbering down the banks of the Thames. Perhaps for his next project Hofman might consider the creation of a friend for Hippopo so that he can remain the bright-eyed and happy hippo he so evidently is today.

Image Credit edwc
Image Credit edwc


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