This summer the Houses of Parliament will host a major new contemporary artwork in Westminster Hall. Commissioned and produced by Artangel, 'The Ethics of Dust' is a temporary art installation created by artist, architect and conservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos.
The artwork is a 50 metre long translucent latex cast of the hall’s east wall, containing hundreds of years of surface pollution and dust.
Suspended from Westminster Hall’s 28-metre high hammerbeam roof, the latex sheet contains innumerable particles of dust, soot and dirt gently lifted from the wall during the sensitive cleaning of this UNESCO world heritage site.
Otero-Pailos and Artangel worked in parallel with Parliament's restoration and stone cleaning project for over five years, culminating in Otero-Pailos retrieving the latex used to clean the hall to create The Ethics of Dust.
Otero-Pailos has previously used this same method at other heritage monuments, including the 14 century Doge’s Palace in Venice.
The Ethics of Dust takes its name from writer John Ruskin’s 1866 book The Ethics of The Dust. Ruskin greatly admired Westminster Hall and the Doge’s Palace: both were seats of governments ruling vast naval empires, threatened with demolition and ultimately saved by restorations.
Ruskin argued against cleaning both buildings with the blunt tools available at the time and went on to lay the intellectual foundations for how we conserve buildings today.
The artwork will be on display in Westminster Hall from 29 June until 1 September. Tickets are free and can be booked in advance.
Image: A section of the 50 metre latex cast of the east wall of Westminster Hall is tested in a warehouse in Northampton ahead of being installed at Westminster Hall. An Artangel project. Photo by Nick Chapman.