British artist James Capper will unveil his new large-scale mobile sculpture MUDSKIPPER as this year’s Powerhouse Commission, an annual commission at Battersea Power Station.

MUDSKIPPERis a fully-mobile sculpture (9.2 metres in length and 12 tons in weight) which has the ability to move across water and land on-shore through the use of two step-type propulsion legs. Inspired by vertebrates, and echoing the brave leaps made by those into a new and unknown world, MUDSKIPPERchallenges and invigorates the definitions of engineering and art and the interconnections between the two. 

MUDSKIPPER’s ability to change its environment, combined with its hydraulic system of land-based locomotion, gives the sculpture a brave and exigent new character on the water. In line with Capper’s practice, the amphibian sculpture explores the dynamic between biological ingenuity, biomechanics and the human.  MUDSKIPPERalso points to a greater journey or mission, one that recalls the eccentric personas of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo or Wes Anderson’s Steve Zissou, confronting the precarity of human existence and our contemporary technological desires. 

Supported by Nine Elms on the South Bank and Royal College of Art, and in conjunction with the 2018 Year of Engineering, StudioRCA will host WALKING SHIP, a special exhibition of James Capper’s work and a visual synopsis of the MUDSKIPPERproject.

Researched, drawn and developed over the course of a decade, the exhibition WALKING SHIP brings together drawings, maquettes and component sculpture to chronicle theconceptual, aesthetic and technical evolution of MUDSKIPPER, departing the artist’s mind and studio, advancing into the world as a fully-realised mobile work. 

Evocative of odysseys such as Jodorowsky’s Dune(2014) or Terry Gilliam’s Lost in La Mancha (2003), the works on display present a distinct iconography and artist’s storyboard of the project, spoken through the gentle and ambiguous voice of Capper’s playful near-futurism.  

The exhibition WALKING SHIP is open to the public at StudioRCA until Monday 22 April, before the fully-realised MUDSKIPPER takes up residency at Battersea Power Station, where it will be moored at the Pier directly in front of the iconic riverside building from mid-May 2019. MUDSKIPPERwill make special performances throughout May and June, when it travels down the River Thames and walks out of the water at certain points of low tide. 

Honor Fishburn, Placemaking Director at Battersea Power Station Development Company, said:“We are delighted to announce James Capper’s  MUDSKIPPERas our 2019 Powerhouse Commission. The Powerhouse Commission is an annual commission honouring our ongoing commitment to support British and international artists by providing them with a unique outdoor platform to show their work.” 

“This work is particularly relevant to the Power Station given its location on the Thames, where once hundreds of workboats would have delivered coal to the building. It will be great to see MUDSKIPPERmoored in front of the Power Station and we hope to make the sculpture a long term fixture on our jetty in due course.”

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “We’re excited to welcome this interesting mix of engineering and art to the riverside at Nine Elms. This area of Wandsworth is undergoing its own evolution from an industrial area into a new town centre, so it is wonderful that we have co-commissioned this transformation of a fishing boat into a walking sculpture. I’m sure it will prove as fascinating to local residents as it will to people visiting Battersea Power Station pier where it will be moored between performances.”

Kirsten Dunne, Senior Strategy Officer, Culture and the Creative Industries, Mayor of London said: “I was so delighted to hear about MUDSKIPPER. James Capper is a hugely innovative and exciting artist and we are very happy to endorse the project.” 


James Capper's mobile public sculpture MUDSKIPPER is the Battersea Power Station Powerhouse Commission for 2019. MUDSKIPPER is co-commissioned in 2019 in partnership with Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms on the South Bank and The Royal Docks; it is produced by Illuminate Productions. Albion Barn acquired the original workboat with James Capper and published the MUDSKIPPER maquette. The project is also supported by Arts Council England, Hannah Barry Gallery, Perkins Engines and Thames Clippers, with additional support from the Science Museum Group. MUDSKIPPER. The mobile public sculpture will engage and integrate with the life of the River Thames, undertaking a series of tests and demonstrations on the River and its foreshores in May and June 2019.

Display and Demonstration Dates

Unfortunately, performance demonstrations of MUDSKIPPER (scheduled for May 25th & 30th and June 9th & 10th) have had to be postponed due to technical issues identified during final testing.

The launch of the artwork and performance demonstrations on the river and foreshore will be rescheduled in due course.

About James Capper

James Capper (b. 1987, London) studied at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. Solo presentations of his work include RIPPER TEETH IN ACTIONat Modern Art Oxford (2011), DIVISIONSat Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2013), SIX STEPat Rio dell’Orso with ALMA ZEVI for the Venice Biennale (2015), PROTOTYPESat CGP London (2016), ATLAS A SPOLETO! / TELESTEP A SPOLETO!, Anna Mahler Association project for the Mahler & LeWitt Studios & Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto, Italy (2016), SCULPTURE &HYDRAULICSat The Edge Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts, University of Bath (2017) and JAMES CAPPERat Bathurst Art Gallery, New South Wales, Australia (2017). The youngest ever artist to be awarded the prestigious Jack Goldhill Prize for Sculpture from the Royal Academy of Arts, London, he has major sculpture projects in 2019 including: AEROCABwith 3-D Foundation in Verbier, Switzerland, Blue Framewith Forth Arts in Sydney, Australia, and MUDSKIPPER, WALKING WORKBOATin London. WAYS TO MAKE MOBILE SCULPTURE, a comprehensive publication of drawings, was published by Albion in 2017, alongside an exhibition of drawings and sculpture at Albion Barn, Little Milton, Oxfordshire.

About Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station is one of central London’s largest, most visionary and eagerly anticipated new town centres. The project development spans 42 acres, including a six-acre public park, a town square, new tube station and 4,239 new homes.The successful regeneration of Battersea Power Station will create 20,000 new jobs, inject £20bn into the UK economy and create a funding mechanism for the first major tube line extension since the Millennium. A new NHS medical facility is also being built and The Battersea Academy of Skills Excellence (BASE), launched 2016, will provide bespoke jobs and training services for those living locally to the area. 

About the Powerhouse Commission

The Battersea Power Station Powerhouse Commission aims to provide international artists with an exceptional opportunity to achieve new levels of ambition by creating unique outdoor platforms from which they can showcase their work. Since its launch in 2017, notable commissions include sculptures by leading British artist Jessie Wine, Malaysian artist Haffendi Anuar and a mural by Brazilian graffiti artist Gustavo Neñao. Battersea Power Station also partnered with Art Night in 2018 and hosted new artwork from British artist Suzanne Treister as well as a number of workshops and smaller scale installations across Circus West Village.

About Nine Elms on the South Bank

Stretching across the two central London boroughs of Lambeth and Wandsworth and strategically positioned on the River Thames opposite Westminster, 20,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs are being created in the Vauxhall and Nine Elms opportunity area. A unique collaboration between world-leading architects, developers, planners and businesses is delivering a successful and innovative mixed-use district which is becoming a magnet for growth.

Already open for business, by 2030 the district will offer over 6.5m sq ft commercial space and high quality locations to accommodate new and existing businesses. With access to London’s highly skilled workforce and a package of transport investment including new two Tube stations, Thames riverboat piers and road improvements, this growing neighbourhood is connected and accessible. Forming a new town centre, half of the 42-acre Battersea Power Station development will consist of shops, restaurants and 3.5m sq ft office space. Apple is moving its London Campus into Battersea Power Station in 2021, further enriching the area’s reputation for tech and design alongside world renowned institutions including the Royal College of Art, Foster + Partners and Vivienne Westwood.

Already home to the new US Embassy, publishers Penguin Random House UK and Dorling Kindersley are moving into Embassy Gardens along with new restaurants, shops and cultural organisations. A new linear park will link Battersea Power Station with the Embassy quarter and up to Vauxhall Cross, creating sustainable walking and cycling routes throughout the area. The strategic vision, including delivery of a £1bn infrastructure package, is being driven forward by the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership.

About The Royal Docks
The Royal Docks has been a global centre for innovation and industry since the 1800s: established as the largest enclosed port in the world, it facilitated the movement of hundreds of thousands of cargoes and passenger ships, spawning settlements such as Canning Town and North Woolwich. As its industry was transformed by the containerisation of cargo, the area fell into decline, resulting in high levels of unemployment and social deprivation. The Royal Docks is now experiencing significant change. It is already an international businesses business destination, a hub for sport and leisure and over the next 20 years will see thousands of new homes, workspaces and jobs being created.

Once London’s gateway to world trade, today the Royal Docks is London’s only Enterprise Zone and one of the UK’s most significant regeneration projects. The Royal Docks lie immediately east of Canary Wharf in the London Borough of Newham, an area of over 500 hectares of land and 18.4km of waterfront.  It is London’s only Enterprise Zone and is managed by the Royal Docks Team, a joint initiative by the Mayor of London and the Mayor of Newham.

About Illuminate Productions

Illuminate Productions develops opportunities for artists to create ground-breaking, high impact art installations and interactive experiences in unusual spaces; to engage and inspire a universal audience. Through participatory/interactive projects they aim to provide culturally engaging activities that educate, challenge perceptions and make a positive impact in community.

The London-based non-profit art organisation, commissions and produces contemporary art in unusual yet accessible environments, with direct public interaction. They offer the public an opportunity to enjoy history in a unique way, as both participants and audience; opening the way fordiscussion and fresh debate about contemporary art and culture, whilst bringing together emerging and established artists, organisations and individuals in experimental partnerships to make site-specific work in challenging contexts. 

They have a track record of staging large-scale art exhibitions and events receiving international acclaim including Merge Festival, an annual arts, music and performance festival drawing on the rich heritage of London's Bankside (since 2011), and DRIFT, a series of strategically placed site-specific artworks in, alongside, and over the river Thames aiming to enrich the cultural outlook of the river. 

About StudioRCA

StudioRCA is an exhibition space located on the Riverlight development in the Nine Elms district. From October 2018 until August 2019, the Royal College of Art and Wandsworth Council will present a programme of co-curated installations in StudioRCA that puts the local neighbourhood and community engagement at its heart, working closely with local organisations and schools to welcome their communities through exhibitions and hands-on workshops. Funded by St James, part of the Berkeley Group, StudioRCA supports the long-term cultural strategy for the Riverlight development, providing one of the area's first new cultural offers within Nine Elms on the South Bank. The partnership was brokered and developed by cultural consultancy Futurecity.