On a side street in Kensington can be found a large bronze petal slowly unfurling. It’s a work of art by the Irish sculptor Eilís O’Connell, and was commissioned by Kensington Borough Council and the residents of Kensington Gate, to celebrate the Millennium.

From a distance, it’s not totally sure if this is a stand-alone artwork, or maybe a clever way of concealing a ventilation shaft. Unfurl appears like a flower bud or leaf gently opening to allow you to look within. You need to be small to peer inside or bend down to look up though.

What you see is that it’s pure art, with no hidden function behind it.

The sculpture is composed of a thick bronze sheet around an empty centre, in the shape of an unfolding plant. The exterior surface of the upright conical shape is marked by a ribbed horizontal pattern with a green patina; its inner surface is a smooth black patina.

Unfurl took the Royal Borough’s award for General Environmental Improvement in 2001, with the judges also praising the setting, key features of which are five small ornamental trees, new street furniture and improved lighting.

Star Trek fans might think it looks a bit familiar though.


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