UK Mental Health Stigma Challenged by Powerful Short Film of 9-metre ‘Head Above Water’ Interactive Sculpture Inbox x ben x

Launching on World Mental Health Day, British Designer, Steuart Padwick is standing by to outline and explain this poignant, evocative short film

Steuart would detail how this important video piece helps us all on the 10th Oct and what ‘Head Above Water’ means for all of us in the UK (the video link is very much yours to use).

The gigantic interactive, 9-metre ‘head’, designed by Steuart challenges attitudes and stimulates perception and understanding around mental health.
Hi-res versions of Daniel Shearing’s images below are here (Jpegs can be sent) (photo credit images by Daniel Shearing/Ramboll/Stora Enso), while these are wider the credit for these is Luke Walker, Getty Images.
UK Mental Health Stigma Challenged by Powerful Short Film of 9-metre ‘Head Above Water’ Interactive Sculpture
Showing across UK independent cinemas: The ‘Head above Water’ film is shot by Soho House Films, The ‘Head above Water’ sculpture, designed by Steuart Padwick.
#HeadAboveWaterLondon @hawLDN

Launching on World Mental Health Day on the 10thOctober, Head Above Water is a powerful and compelling, short film supporting mental health awareness.
From the 10th, this poignant, evocative filmwill be shown in independent cinemas across the UK, as well as previewing on-line:
“We are all diverse … and neuro-diverse. So often mental health and well-being is not discussed, and this piece brings the conversation from margins to mainstream. Congratulations to Steuart and his collaborators.” Rama Gheerawo, Director of The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the RCA Reader in Inclusive Design.

Head Above Water features in a soon to be released podcast chaired by Rama Gheerawo called Design Activism, which discusses how a piece of public art can bring about change by engaging and stimulating much needed conversations.

As part of the London Design Festival (15 – 23 Sept), British designer Steuart Padwick made a dramatic change to the London skyline in support of mental health.
Head Above Water was a 9 metre high, interactive sculpture on London’s South Bank with panoramic views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the iconic city skyline. Taking the form of a giant wooden head elevated above the Thames.

The ‘Head’ is deliberately gender, ethnicity and age neutral and stands as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion, positivity and change, for those who have come through or are still confronting mental health issues, and the people who support them.

At night Head Above Water was lit, and people were able to engage with its changing colours to reflect how they are feeling through a designated Twitter feed – in real time. Dr Sally Marlow Phd, Engagement and Impact Fellow, The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (loPPN) at King’s College London has advised on the changing coloursto reflect different emotions.Consulting engineers Hoare Lea are the specialists behind the lighting scheme.

Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change said: “Located on the bustling South Bank, Head Above Water will be seen by millions, prompting contemplation and encouraging conversations about mental health. Sadly, mental health problems are often confined to hushed conversations in quiet corners so we’re excited to support this project which proudly brings it into the light.”

“Head Above Water is a fine emblem of what we all hope for: a healthy, creative, compassionate mind”, comments Kevin McCloud, Designer, TV Presenter.
“Head Above Water by Steuart Padwick is a highly engaging work that prompts vital thinking around mental health – congratulations to all involved,” Helen Pheby PhD, Senior Curator Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
For website and social feeds

Notes to editors

British designer, Steuart Padwick, Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change and other key organisations and spokespeople involved, are available for interview.
· Press contact: For interviews and to obtain hi-res images, please contact [email protected]
· Fast facts: Head Above Water had just 15 weeks from concept to completion. It took 10 tons of laminated timber to produce the 9-metre high sculpture, has 3000 screws and 48m of LED lighting. Over 30 companies and 100 people collaborated on this project – utilising 1 dock, 1 barge crane and 1 large flatbed truck. The build will take four-five working days and has had everything from a comprehensive structural survey of Gabriel’s Pier to licenses from Lambeth Council and the Port of London Authority.
· Head Above Water is in the process of being rebuilt at The Northfleet Transhipment Facility, where it will be encouraged to just be and become a symbol of regeneration and positivity.
· The ‘Head’ is a model of sustainable, smart design and build and sourced from PEFC certified Forests. It is made using Stora Enso precision engineered, cross-laminated timber panels, and to resolve the structure Steuart Padwick worked with structural engineering experts, Ramboll.

Additional supporting quotes

The British designer/sculptor, Steuart Padwick said, “Head Above Water is a symbol of hope. It needed to be big, powerful and prominent… a beacon of humanity caring for others. This is not my head or about my battles. This is for those who have or have had mental health issues…. I want anybody and everybody to relate to it….to open a door perhaps ….”

Dr Sally Marlow PhD , Fellow at The Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, said, “This is an extraordinary piece of public art, Head Above Water’s powerful use of colour reminds us that mental health comes in many guises, and can be a story of hope, not despair.”

“At 9 meters high, the Head Above Water sculpture is a powerful and imposing addition to the London skyline. At a time when life has never been more urgent and fast paced, it prompts us all to reflect on our feelings and be more understanding towards the mental health struggles of others,” Nicholas Pinnock (film, television and theatre actor and Mind Ambassador).

“At last one of the major issues of our times, so often swept under the carpet, gets to be shouted from the rooftops and that cheers me greatly.” Sir Kenneth Grange, British Industrial Designer.

“A bracing, bold intervention into the city’s skyline. A clarion call to remember our humanity from the banks of the most beautiful city on earth,” Simon Stephens (Playwright)

“…excellent Head on the Thames project, very good and interesting… Best wishes Terence.” Sir Terence Conran, Designer and Restauranteur.”
“The symbolism could not be more powerful to highlight the issues of mental health.” Keith Brymer-Jones, TV presenter and Master Potter.
“Mental health needs to be at the centre of our national conversation and this optimistic, dignified sculpture will be heard loud and clear.” Tom Goodman-Hill, Actor.
“Good luck with the brilliantly ambitious ‘Head Above Water’ project. It’s so striking and thought-provoking.” Paul Whitehouse, Actor, Comedian and Writer.
“…in this ever changing, fast moving and more and more ruthless modern world, which of us could say his or her mental health or wellbeing might not be challenged.” Niamh Cusack, Actor.
“Ramboll are really excited to be involved in such a thought provoking and visually appealing piece of art. It speaks right to our values and draws on our years of experience in timber engineering, digital design and historic structures…” Alan Dowdall, Associate Ramboll.

“Head above water is a powerful presence on the London skyline that engages the city with the mental health conversation through the use of coloured light linked to emotions. An artistic platform to discuss and participate on such a vital subject…” Juan Ferrari, Senior Associate, Hoare Lea.

“An inspirational piece of work that can ruminate with so many to help recognise the importance for ‘checking in’ on friends, family and work colleagues – we all have a role to play in promoting and maintaining good mental health – what greater symbol could London ask for?” Russell Stilwell, MD RSE Building Services.
About Steuart Padwick
British Designer Steuart Padwick is known for his warm, witty and sculptural designs. He is a designer of furniture, lighting and products for domestic and contract spaces with the aim of producing pieces that both fit the needs of people’s lives and enhance their modern environments. Steuart collaborates with many international retailers and manufacturers . His designs have been supplied to corporate offices such as Twitter as well as hotel and restaurant projects.

He also produces one off commissions – recently nursery furniture for Princess Charlotte and Prince George. Steuart was the first designer to work with in 2010 and is still their best-selling designer. Steuart Padwick trained at Parnham College and the Royal College of Art.

About Time to Change

Time to Change is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems. Our voice is stronger and louder thanks to funding by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Our campaign is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and thousands more organisations have joined us to make change happen. For more information go to

Mate In Mind

Mates in Mind aims to raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and improve positive mental wellbeing in the UK construction industry.
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