On the 6th floor roof terrace of LSE’s Centre Building you will find the Legacy Terrace Garden. Its centrepiece is Chorus of Ripples, an art installation in memory of Dr Mayling Birney.
LSE’s Legacy Terrace Garden honours and celebrates the individuals who have helped to build on LSE’s founding legacy. To create the art installation Chorus of Ripples, the focal point of the roof garden, the LSE project team worked in partnership with Arts Thread, an online launchpad for art and design students and graduates worldwide. Placing young and emerging talent at the heart of the project felt right as an institution supporting the next generation of students. A competition was initiated by Arts Thread to encourage submissions from their global community of designers, with the aim to deliver an art installation that would achieve the following criteria:
- Be durable and long lasting due to being exposed to the elements.
- Engaging and dynamic to form the focal point of a roof garden terrace space.
- Legacy benefactor names could be added over time.
- Sensitively pay tribute to Dr Mayling Birney.
The winning competition entry came from two Chinese female designers, He Yang and Wu Sixin. The artists were inspired by London’s rainfall. Chorus of Ripples was generously funded by the Birney Family Foundation, in memory of their loved one Dr Mayling Birney (1972-2017), who was an alumna and established faculty member in the Department of International Development at LSE.
A single raindrop may seem insignificant, but when many come together, they can create a rainstorm. Similarly, every thought we have is unique and the collision and contest of thoughts measure progress and change the world. The garden features a pool to represent this idea with shards surrounding it to symbolise raindrops. – He Yang
Standing on the central pathway, the multiple mirrored surfaces give each visitor a unique viewpoint/perspective. The same is true in how we would bring our unique perspectives in understanding, interpreting and questioning thoughts and ideas; this is key to human progress and is at the heart of why LSE exists.
Another important aspect of the artwork extends to the plum blossom etchings on the central walkway.
We designed this plum blossom road, just like how Dr Mayling paved the way for the future generations. Her name also means plum forest in Chinese. – Wu Sixin
The largest shard which stands at three metres high has inscribed the names of individual legacy benefactors. Each represents legacy gifts and in-memoriam gifts of £25,000 or more, realised since August 2020. The year 2020 marks the next 125-year chapter in LSE’s history. LSE’s legacy benefactors who make a gift of any size, are also included in the Book of Remembrance displayed in the Shaw Library housed on the 6th floor, Old Building.
Since the completion of the installation in Spring 2023, the artwork has transformed a once underused roof terrace space into a bright and welcoming space for relaxation.
Watch: the story behind Chorus of Ripples
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Arts Thread is the leading digital platform for emerging artists and designers, representing over 400,000 students in more than 130 countries from over 980 design schools.