If you were taking a stroll along London’s South Bank last weekend, you most likely spotted something: a giant wooden head mounted on the end of Queens Stone Jetty, standing between
15 & 20 meters above the water depending on the tide. Don’t be alarmed, we’re not facing invasion from giants. From 15 September to 23 September London’s south bank will feature a huge interactive head designed by British Designer Steuart Padwick, as part of the London Design Festival and designjunction. Head Above Water is an installation designed to get us talking about mental health.

“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)
The sculpture has been created in support of the Time to Change campaign , and is intended as a symbol of the hope and bravery of those going through mental health issues and those who support them. It’s deliberately free of any gender, ethnicity, and age, as mental illness can happen to anyone. Standing at nine metres tall and sitting on Queen’s Stone Jetty (also known as Gabriel’s Pier), the head will light up with different colours responding to a Twitter feed, where people can share how they’re feeling in real time.

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.” 
Mental health is something that as an industry we are all becoming more aware of. Within Unusual we are taking a pro-active stance towards helping anyone and everyone who works in our team with what is often regarded as a hidden illness. Lizzie Richmond, our Operations Manager has attended a 2 day Mental Health First Aid Course run by St John's Ambulance, designed to gain the necessary skills to have a non judgmental conversation, recognise the signs and symptoms of common workplace mental health issues and effectively guide a person towards the right support. And in December, she's off to a summit entitled "Embedding Mental Health Best Practises in the Workplace", which will incorporate resilience, stress management and first aid.
So when we were approached and asked to be a part of this project, we were absolutely delighted.
We're more used to rigging and suspending installations like this, but on this occasion, we were asked by production manager Gary White if we would construct it. Robin Elias headed A team of five Unusual riggers with more than 187 years of rigging experience between them have been hard at work in King George V lock, pre-assembling the head into 4 sections using 3000, 300mm long screws (*disclaimer – in all our years working as riggers we've never inserted a screw or knocked in a nail – but shhh – don't tell anyone!)
Once assembled we lifted the pieces onto a barge complete with an on board crane. We then met the barge at Queen stone jetty, craning on the four sections each weighing around 2500 kgs. The last two lifts were completed at 0430 at high tide - it will hopefully generate lots of conversations about mental health.
Steuart Padwick – the designer/ sculptor said: “Scratch the surface and so many people have issues they have not yet dealt with. Head above water is there as a symbol of hope – to open a door perhaps…” We are incredibly proud to be associated with this project and it has been an honour to work as part of a team where everyone is so supportive of this important cause. 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 ….”

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